The weeklong look at the comics I currently have in development continues tonight with a look inside Stray, my original graphic novel with artist Mat Nixon. This story is one of the simplest and most linear stories I have ever written and yet the storytelling in the graphic novel is one of the most ambitious and bold moves that I’ve made in my relatively short career. More information about the comic can be found after the jump!
My wife and I are both big supports of rescue shelters that help find homes for animals that have been abandoned or lost. Our dog Lebowski (the world’s laziest Jack Russell terrier) was a shelter dog and our experience with him has made us huge supporters of the cause. That being said, my wife has a habit of trying to pick up stray animals anywhere that they can be found (lost in neighborhoods, on the side of the highway, etc) to take to the local animal shelter. Not long after she picked up a dog that was lost on a country highway, we had a long conversation about how we’ll never know the dog’s back story and how it got to that point when she found him. Inspiration hit me immediately, and along came Stray.
Stray follows the story of Ash, an alley cat that cannot seem to catch a break. After the loss of his mother and the falling out with his brothers, he tries to make it on his own and faces a wide variety of trials and triumphs over the course of the graphic novel. I don’t want to give anything away, but the first few people that read the full outline were move to tears by the story. If that isn’t a sign that the story needs to be told, I don’t know what is.
Joining me on the project is artist Mat Nixon. Mat’s clean line work and bold approach to storytelling made him an ideal candidate for co-creator on this project. His work is highly expressive and full of energy, which allows him to bring Ash and his adventures to life in a charming and approachable way. This is especially important as Stray is a completely silent graphic novel.
Yep, you read that correctly. Stray is completely silent. There is not a single bit of dialogue or sound effect in the entire 100+ pages of story. You can see now why I was so picky about the artist for this project and why I was so happy to bring Mat on board as the artist and co-creator. Thanks to Mat’s great storytelling and our strong working relationship, the comic can be told entirely without words, making it perfect for readers young and old and accessible to readers no matter what their comfort level is with comics.
Obviously the writing processes for this is unlike anything I’ve ever done before. Normally I am known for writing highly detailed scripts but without any dialogue, this approach would not be effective or efficient for this particular project. Instead, Mat is working from a detailed outlined and plot summary that I put together, which tells him exactly what needs to appear on each page. I then took it even further and provided him with thumbnail layouts for the page that show him exactly what I’d like to see on each page. He then interprets my intentions and produces his mind-blowingly awesome art.
Much like Oren Takes Flight, this original graphic novel has not yet been pitched to publishers, but will be sent out in the coming months. The feedback we have received thus far from both fans and fellow creators has been extremely positive, which makes me believe that there is a very bright future from this bold and unusual comic!