Where do story ideas come from?
I get asked an awful lot where I get my story ideas from. The short answer is that I get them from all over (but everyone says stuff like that!). So I wanted to do a quick post to take you through just where the various ideas that are in THE BUTTERMAN actually came from.
So here we go! These are all of the various bits and pieces that added up to become the final story:
- Let’s start with the most basic part (and the overall idea of the story): the Butterman himself. Well this one came out of a funny discussion with a friend rom work who wanted to go check out this store near our office that sold shea butter. I jokingly said that I didn’t want to go because I was scared that they had this shea butter golem somewhere in the store and her response was, “Dude, that sounds like one of your comics. You need to do that some day!” Now this was several years ago, so I’ve been sitting on the idea for a while and just haven’t had the chance to actually use it. But when I was wrapping up the second issue of ANDREW JACKSON IN SPACE, and got to thinking that I should do a quick OTV short story before I started my “next big project”, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to use this idea. So THE BUTTERMAN was born.
- Being an On the Verge short story, I wanted it to pick up on some of the other OTV shorts that I’ve done over the years, specifically:
– I’ve been wanting to do another short with Lucas telling Edward about old cases, and
– I wanted an “open ended” ending, kind of like what happened in SHADOWS.
So both of those kind of fed into the overall structure of story that I created.
- I gave myself about 6 weeks to really get the story completed. I didn’t want to come up with something that was going to take me forever to finish off and delay my next project much more than a month-and-a-half. So realistically, that meant that I could do 10-15 pages and based on all the stories that I’ve done, 12 pages seemed like a nice round number. Then I decided to do a title page… so I was up to 13 pages.
- Unlike with TALL TALES & VISITATIONS, I wanted to make sure that a cover was included in the final story. So that made everything a perfect 14 “pages” to complete.
- I wanted to do a bit of an unconventional story. I typically try to find good ways to explain the “weird science” or whatnot that’s happening in the story. But I wanted to do something different and basically “cut” the story into two parts by inserting this explanation into the middle of things.
- I wanted some humour in the story. Whenever Eddy’s involved I think this is easier to do but hopefully you chuckle a bit as you read the story.
- I wanted a couple of different locations/environments to draw (there’s actually three in the final story: outside the shop, inside the shop and the bar).
- I realized about halfway through working on THE ARROW OF TIME, that the OTV has a whole lot of white characters in it. Now this wasn’t done on purpose but I really didn’t think about ethnicity when I was creating the story and the characters. Now that I was doing a new story, I wanted to have characters that weren’t the typical white characters that seem to dominate comic books. (Plus, my next project has a bunch of characters that aren’t white, so this is good practise ahead of that)
- All of the art was going to be black & white. Not that I’m never going to do colour work again, but as I’ve mentioned many times in the past, I’m focusing less on colour right now.
- Because the story is black & white, my thought was that it should be pretty moody with lots of black and shadows.
- Even though the art is only black & white, I really wanted to throw every different technique I’ve got at it. So I used a variety of different drawing techniques, tools, ink wash, halftone, splatter and some digital effects to really try to make the art sing.
- I wanted to really play and experiment with the page layouts. Since THE ARROW OF TIME is completed, I was free of the restrictions that I’d placed on layouts for that story. So I spent a couple of weeks really pouring over different comics artists work and seeing what I could do differently and then applied that learning.
- Again, since THE ARROW OF TIME is done, I want to keep developing my drawing and my overall “style”. I’ve started to do a lot more rendering in my drawing and the artwork really needed to give me the opportunity to push this further.
- I really wanted to have a massive 2-page spread. I did my first 2-page spread at “full comic size” for the second issue of AJiS and I wanted to really take that to the next level and do something massive.
- The story needed to have some good action (and less talking) to draw.
And that’s kind of the whole list. Now I didn’t sit down and write all of these out and then start writing. But as I started writing and really putting ideas down on paper, I started to layer in more and more ideas as I went. Then once I got to the stage of designing characters or doing layouts, other ideas got dumped in. All in all, it really is bit of a process and TA-DA! A finished story.
Source: On the Verge