So, last month, it was my turn to head up the writing chores for the comic. It was a lot of fun, but it also had a few challenges. I figured it’s be fun to give you a little bit of insight, or a “behind the curtains” look at what my process was.

First and foremost, I found it difficult to express in writing the visual gags I had in mind. I settle pretty early on a theme (the four of us go to a heavy metal festival), which I thought had potential for fun and was also timely as Heavy MTL was in town. Yet, putting the ideas down on paper was getting me nowhere, and the punchlines weren’t coming together.

So I decided just to make comics. I had all the files from the “classic” comics. I popped open my photo editor, loaded them up, and just started tapping away.

This first one came pretty naturally. These characters are, after all, based on ourselves, and as such, I took a shot at myself for being the only one to freely admit that I listened to Nu-Metal. And that Sophie hates the stuff.

Now, I’m not really concerned with nailing the expressions here, but rather I’m just trying to make sure the visual gags are clear. I had all the faith in Soph that when it came time to draw these up, she’d hit it out of the park.

This was my second strip, as I wrote it. All the comics go through an evaluation/jam session where we hammer out any rough edges. Keith (rightly) pointed out that I was using the same gag again as in the first strip, and while funny, it wasn’t gonna be as strong when used one after the other like this.

Soph suggested this punchline, which worked much better. I dropped in in to make sure, and it was funnier. Also,we inadvertently referred to Jon as a transvestite again.  I didn’t mean too, it just sort of happened. I was honestly just trying to make a funny comment on “what is metal, really?”, and hair metal was fucking huge.

Everyone wanted to know why Keith was in a dress. I was just trying to say “Keith, covered in blood” with that panel, and Carrie was the automatic choice in my mind to get that across. It was a poor choice, because my brain doesn’t work like everyone else, and I had to explain that no, Gwar didn’t turn Keith into a lady, a bloody lady.

The next point of discussion was whether or not Gwar was too obscure a reference to use. I knew of Gwar, I’ll admit, mostly from their cameo appearance in the sort-of-hit movie “Empire Records”, and that was good enough for me. I defended this point at the writer’s meeting, and ultimately, it stayed in. I think it worked pretty well.
The fourth strip, I hit the wall. I didn’t really know where to go, so we sort of hashed it out all together. I don’t know who came up with the premise of the ride home, but it was a hit, and so we just ran with it. I know I wrote the lines for the second panel, though. I thought the dry blood in ears was gross-funny.
In the final version of the comic, I also gave Sophie a sunburn, which was a joke I saw in real life as I was walking around downtown during the real Heavy MTL, and saw all these long haired, black tees and boots metal fans sun-burnt to hell because they a) aren’t out in the sunlight all that often, and applying coppertone sunscreen is not very metal at all. That’s basically how it went down. No one else has used this model in our group, but like I said, I have a strange and sometimes ornery brain. The end product was awesome, so I’m pretty happy with the process to get there.
For the record, my favorite metal album is Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning”.