Hi, it's been a while since I've written one of these. So I just posted all of the first issue of a story called "Lorant Markus." Who is Lorant? Where did he come from? And what's in store for the future? I'll be answering all those questions here.
Let's start from the beginning. The earliest drawings of Lorant date back to 2011. I posted a drawing of him for a character-a-day I did back in November of that year: Lorant Markus, CAD 29. Now you might remember another character named Nova who I posted the previous day. What happened do her? Weren't they co-stars or something? Originally, Lorant and Nova were going to be the main characters of an adventure comic strip. It was going to poke fun at old video game tropes (because that's NEVER been done before) while hearkening back to the golden age of newspaper strips like Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse. I even wanted to, every so often, do a big color page like what would be printed on Sundays. When I started planing the strip, I struggled with the story. You see in the Mickey Mouse Strips, they would tell a joke and advance the story in four panels. Turns out that's REALLY hard! I could either advance the story or tell a joke, but not both, at least not in a coherent way. And none of the gags I came up with were that funny, anyway. So I scrapped the idea and put the characters on the back burner. I might have a use for them later, I thought.
It turns out really liked my design for Lorant. No surprise there, he was clearly the stronger of the two designs. He was interested in doing something with the character. He didn't have time to draw much, but he could write. I actually wasn't ready to do a collaboration like that yet, but thought about. In the meantime I developed some other stories, one of which was Killing Shadow, and another was a robot-themed sci-fi adventure. I decided to take Nova and use her as a foil to the main character in that story. She even got a nice new redesign, a shame I never posted it on my tumblr or anything. I had this idea to do a throw back to genre comics of the '50s, I wanted to put a few short 5-10 page stories in a single volume. The problem was the stories ended up getting too long. Killing Shadow's length was fine, it would've been the center piece, anyway, but the robot story simply could not be confined to so few pages. Also, I decided to take Nova out of that story as well (poor gal!), as the tone ended up changing.
I then went through some pretty nasty writer's block. I just couldn't come up with a good follow-up to Killing Shadow no matter how hard I tried. So I decided to take up on his offer and let him try to write something with Lorant. I took what was going to be the basic plot of the original strip and outlined it for him: Monster hunter journeys to a far-off land to slay Darcula-esque vampire; have it feel like our favorite games from the 16bit era and golden age cartoons. I already had a rough design of the Vampire villain and of course the main character. And write he did. A lot. We could get together and toss ideas back and forth, I would give feedback, ask for cuts, or changes in tone. He even made this neat little outline with the new characters he wrote into the story. It had some really nice descriptions that left room for all sorts of fun interpretations. I had a blast working on the character designs, probably the most fun I've had designing characters. The wizard character, Geralt, ended up being our favorite.
[I should note, he named all the characters, except Lorant. I now know there's a REALLY POPULAR FANTASY NOVEL AND VIDEO GAME CHARACTER NAMED GERALT, but neither he or I read fantasy novels or play triple-A brown and gray video games. It's a coincidence, I guess. Look Geralt is just a name. An Irish given name. You can't trademark that!]
Once the script was finally completed, he handed it off to me to start plotting the pages. The script wasn't written like a typical comic script, there was no "page1, panel 3, balloon 2" nonsense with every little detail for the artwork listed so the art-monkey has no room for imagination whatsoever. It was just descriptive paragraphs and dialogue, kind of like mix between a short story and a screenplay. I did what I thought would work best on the page. I changed pretty much all the action scenes and even rewrote a lot of the dialogue. I eventually started work on the comic itself, and it was a real struggle. I never really drew any action stuff before, so every page was a learning experience. Not only that but I really wanted to push myself further and not settle for "good enough" poses like I usually did. Looking back, at some of the early pages especially, it doesn't really show, but I honestly put a lot into it and was even proud of some it at the time.
There was a problem, however. The story was 51 pages long. Fifty. One. Pages. It took me forever to even finish one page at the rate I was going. I got burnt out. I rarely posted here. I thought working on something else would just distract me from Lorant and I wanted to power through and finish it. I could already see history repeating. I drew a comic called Confined Spirits when I still was in university. I call it my "student film" because, like a lot of student films, it was long, overambitious, meandering, amateurish, and ultimately unfinished. Was Lorant doomed to suffer the same fate? I wanted to have SOMETHING to show for all my hard work, but I need to step back, make changes, and work on something else. It just happened that I was just finishing up the Chimera-Gryph fight, when I thought, "Maybe I should cut it off here... it's standard comic length right now. Maybe I can make it two volumes?" I ran it by and he was fine with it. It wasn't and easy decision to make, and I waited way to long before saying anything, as always.
This, of course, is not a perfect outcome, but it is for the best. When I did that, my artistic drive came back full force. I colored the pages in a fraction of the time it took me to pencil and ink them. I was able to finally take a step back, get some air, and access what I had done. I went through and make some serious changes to the second half of the story. I added some more characters, cut out unnecessary scenes, and most importantly, added some much needed backstory and world building. The good news is I'm just about ready to start working on it. It's still light on plot and character development, but that sort of thing will come naturally as the series progresses. I think we have somewhere around 2 or 3 more story arcs planned. They won't all be two parts. In fact, the next one following "Wrath of... Part 2", which I'm solely writing, will probably be around 20 pages. It's still not very far in development, though.
Lorant isn't the only thing we're working on together. Remember that robot story I mentioned? will write that along with another story featuring... wait for it... Nova! Yeah, Nova is going to be the star of her own space traveling super team (think Gatchaman or Super Sentai). Who knows when those will see the light of day, but I do plan on making (and posting!) concept art for both, as well as another idea I've been kicking around for a bit.
And there you have it. The story of Lorant Markus in full. That was a lot of text, I won't blame you if you ignore this. It's probably riddled with typos and bad grammar. But if you are still reading this, and you read "Lorant Markus and the Wrath of Count Blight Part 1": Thank You. And I mean it. I also would like to know what you thought of it. Constructive criticism is always welcome here. Aaaaand if it's not too much to ask, could you share it? Tweet it @ your Facebook friends or whatever you kids do these days. Anything would probably help.