I will be the first person to say that I may not know what I’m doing. As I am writing the story for A little Off the Top I am learning new things about who the characters are, about the world they live in, and just how goddam crazy I want to make that world. All of this will hopefully lead me to find different ways to make the story that much better and that much more enjoyable for the people who read it, and hopefully for the artist who brings my insane ramblings to life (talking to you, Jazz).
I’m not going to lie; the idea for this comic came very early on a Saturday morning with a combination of too little sleep and too much caffeine. The man who would eventually become the artist for the series, Jazz, another artist for the company, Matt, and myself were huddled around a table, trying to suck down as much coffee and sugar as we could simply to keep ourselves from face planting onto our breakfast. At some point, I’m not sure when, the topic turned to the anime series Kill la Kill. We had all enjoyed that one, and were discussing just how insane the series was. How crazy the action was, how ludicrous the plot turned out to be, how over the top the characters were, and of course, how self-aware the show was. We all wanted to do something like that!
And then there came the fateful phrase, “Wouldn’t it be crazy if…” I can’t remember which one of us uttered those words or who it was that continued with the idea of people with magical hair that would fight for them. But it didn’t matter at that point. We were off and running on a creative adventure in our caffeine induced haze. We spent most of the time eating or walking around the block just pitching character ideas and plot points, and we were having a blast doing it. Then one of us stopped, again can’t remember who, and said “You think we should write all this down?” After the ensuing mad scramble for our phones the idea was firmly entrenched in our minds.
However, after that initial high came all the doubts. I was still relatively new to this whole writing comic’s thing. Somehow, I’d managed to get myself into what would become a long running, weekly series. How would I keep that pace? How would I keep all the story points straight? Would the characters even work? All these questions and more were spiralling through my head. That’s not to say that it was all bad. The initial conversations with Jazz about how the series would play out were a lot of fun, and a much needed confidence boost. Once we had the general idea of who the characters were, and how the world worked down, it was time to actually start writing.
This is where a few other issues came in to play. The most prominent being that I all of a sudden had much more time and space to play with as far as story telling went. I didn’t have a set page limit to tell the story. As far as I knew this was going to go on indefinitely, that meant that I could expand on certain things, like the action sequences. Now, up until this point I had never written an extended action scene, so I had little idea how to actually do it. I had ideas for how I wanted that initial scene to go, sure, but I didn’t really know how to do so in a way that was both fully fleshed out, but brief enough to allow me to move on to other elements of the story. This was the first big struggle of writing an ongoing web comic to me. The idea that I certainly had time and space to flesh out my ideas, but keeping them contained enough that they didn’t bog down the story was new to me.
Now the next problem is how long do I spend developing the characters and their stories before I move onto the next bit of action the series has to offer? Too little and no one will be invested in the characters, too much and the readers may grow bored. I am learning how to walk that fine line. I am also learning how long to spend on a certain story arc. There are many cool ideas that I want to get to in the series, the problem is that I have to set them up properly first, and I am an impatient man. I will have to try to find the right balance for all these things.
One of the things that Jazz and I say whenever we meet to discuss the story is, “there is no such thing as too crazy.” The entire point of this comic was to do something so crazy that you couldn’t help but chuckle while reading it. To go so far over the top of what was rational that it would hook you and not let you go. I think we’re on the path to doing that. I hope you stay with us because you haven’t seen anything yet!