I know it's been a while since my last update, but I've been a busy bee, not to mention a lot of neat stuff happening for me the past few months. I'd like to run through a few of them before I get to the news that is the purpose of this update!
I started a new job at Aftershock Games in April, and it's been very, very cool. I've worked in the gaming industry since 2004, and this has been one of the best companies I've ever worked for, if not the best! Then an interesting thing happened, and Aftershock got acquired by FOX. So now, I'm a FOX employee, and that's been a lot of fun too! I got to go on the studio lot, meet some cool people, and got to see War for the Planet of the Apes a few days before its theatrical release! I can't say anything about the projects we're working on at FOX Next games, but there's some great stuff in the future.
During all of this transition and shenanigans, I've been working on completing the two bonus issues of The Gamma Gals Volume 1 trade paperback. I am pleased to announced that as of today, July 16th, 2017, I have completed my work on The Gamma Gals Volume 1! Issues 5 and 6 are complete, and the book is on track to be released August 30th, 2017 through Fanbase Press. That's only 7 weeks away! I'd like to take this opportunity to chat about the production of The Gamma Gals, which has been quite the multi-year undertaking for me!
Working on this book has been one of the top experiences of my life. I started on The Gamma Gals way back in 2013, when the three gamma-irradiated teenagers were nothing but a few conversations with my wife and some loose ideas in my head. Over the course of 2013, I went through iteration after iteration of the concept and characters. Refining them, figuring out who they were, what they wanted, what their powers were, what the world of Brightstone City was going to be like, potential antagonists and plotlines I'd like to pursue, etc, etc. I finally settled on a primary cast of three superheroines: Harriet Henderson, a.k.a. Flux, Kira Walton, a.k.a. Powerhouse, and Sue Kwan, a.k.a. Tempest.
I knew I wanted the girls to be geeky, funny, resourceful, powerful, and diverse. But I didn't want to just go down a checklist and slot diversity in there just for the hell of it. The girls, while entirely fictional, were certainly inspired by many women in my life, from family, to dear friends. Some of their quirks and idiosyncrasies, were drawn from people I know and am inspired by. The decision to make them normal teenage girls, and not fashion models occurred very early in the creation process as well. The girls aren't designed to titillate straight teenage boys. Motivated by many uncomfortable experiences sitting on the bus or train and flipping the page of my favorite book to see one of the women drawn in comically over the top and sensual poses, scantily clad, dripping with innuendo, and having to field the weird and judgmental looks from my fellow commuters, is why I made it a goal/mission statement to never draw the Gamma Gals in those exaggerated, titillating poses. I mean, they're teenagers, for Pete's sake! This was also the period when I nailed down what powers I wanted The Gamma Gals to possess. I didn't worry about originality, as nearly every super power under the sun has been tackled by superhero comics for over 75 years. Instead, I tried to create powers that would compliment not just the team, but the personalities and character traits of the girls as well. And of course wanting to draw cool stuff with said powers. And so Harriet Henderson became the shapeshifter Flux, Kira Walton gained superstrength, speed, and agility, as Powerhouse, and Sue Kwan became the elementalist Tempest.
2014 was the year that I began creating drafts for what would become the "Zero G" story arc of The Gamma Gals. This storyline would play out over 4 issues, and feature the rise of Zero G, a new superhero making his debut and elbowing in on The Gamma Gal's lunch. Iteration after iteration, rewrite after rewrite, I toiled away on the scripts to those four issues, noodling the plot, introducing the supporting cast of characters, and squeezing in character sketches and other drawings as I got closer to completing the scripts and moving into production of the first issue. Scenes were re-arranged, rewritten, or cut out all together during this process. It was a lot of fun, but also incredibly scary.
It was intimidating and daunting. Despite having been an artist for decades, I had never actually completed a full color, 22 page comic before. Oh, I had plenty of half finished pages from ideas that seemed exciting at the time, but the dulled edges started to show after a few years went by, and a lot of maturing happened. After falling in love with the concept of badass superheroines who love role playing games and comic books, I threw the gauntlet down to myself and challenged myself to prove that I could complete a 22 page comic. After the scripts had been completed and edited, it was time for production of the very first issue of The Gamma Gals to begin. This was in late 2014, but due to some real life situations that occurred, I had to take a few months away from drawing Issue #1.
I returned to producing pages for Issue #1 in early 2015. By this point, two years had already passed since the inception of The Gamma Gals as a concept. I spent the next three months working on this issue, from additional script edits, to pencils, to inks, to colors, then lettering. I must say that completing Issue #1 of The Gamma Gals was one of the most fulfilling moments of my life. I had taken up that gauntlet I tossed down at myself, picked it up like the Mighty Thor, and chucked it right back at my doubt, lack of self esteem, and fear, and conquered it. It was a tremendous boost to my confidence, and I felt like I could finally say I was real comic book artist, and not just a dude with a port-folio of half finished ideas. Don't get me wrong, The Gamma Gals is far from perfect, but that was never my mantra. "Finished, not perfect." It was more important to me to just finish something, than to spend months/years on making sure that every panel and page were flawless. As an artist, the amazing work of the present will almost always have you feeling "I thought that was amazing?!" a year later. So my intent with the Gamma Gals Issue #1 was to just complete the best issue I could produce, to the best of my abilities in that moment.
I initially wasn't planning on releasing The Gamma Gals. I was going to keep it as a little something just for me. Something I could look at with pride of a job well done. However, I was so proud of Issue #1, so pleased with how the characters, world, and plot were shaping up, that I decided to self publish the Issue on Amazon Kindle, Comixology (before Amazon bought it!), and through Kablam, who specializes in creating physical, made to order comic books for indie creators such as myself. With Issue #1 complete, and my confidence at an all time high, I set my sights on creating Issue #2.
Over the course of 2015, and through to April 2016, I completed Issues #2, #3, and #4 of The Gamma Gals. Issue #4 marked the conclusion of the Zero G arc, and what was, at the time, the end of Volume 1 of The Gamma Gals. I had planned on doing only the four issue mini-series, and packaging that as a 92 page graphic novel. After completing Issue #4, however, I just wasn't done with Harriet, Kira, and Sue! There was so much more I wanted to explore, and so many more character moments and plot points I wanted to address.
By this point, I had already been introduced to Barbra and Bryant Dillon of Fanbase Press through our mutual friend, Vito Lapiccola. Bryant and Barbra had amazingly decided to bring me and The Gamma Gals under their wing, and produce a physical graphic novel, as well as digitally re-releasing the first four issues under the Fanbase Press banner. I can't even begin to describe how elated and grateful I was to have this opportunity to have a publisher release my work! I often still can't believe it! I decided to fully produce two additional issues to be included as bonus issues for the trade paperback. Barbra and Bryant also served as editors for the re-releases of Issues #1-4, and the bonus issues 5 and 6. I completed Issue #5 of The Gamma Gals in late 2016, and completed Issue #6 of The Gamma Gals in mid 2017.
And now here we are! At the end of the long road at last! Volume 1 is complete, and will be ready to hold in your hands August 30th, 2017! What a ride this has been, but so, so worth it. I've posted some handy links below! Don't be afraid to stop by and say hello!
The Gamma Gals Volume 1 Trade Paperback:fanboycomics.ecrater.com/p/261…
The Gamma Gals on comixology:www.comixology.com/The-Gamma-G…
The Gamma Gals on Twitter: twitter.com/TheGammaGals
Me on Twitter:twitter.com/StefanoTerry