Changes Coming Soon

Johnny and I have been discussing changes to the way we approach this comic. Once we have settled on something, y’all will be the first to know! Actually, Johnny and I will know first, but you will be second! In the meantime, enjoy some sketch art of Fitzsimmons (the guy we saw popping out of the trees on the July 11th post)!

The Origins of REDemption Part 11

When we closed last week’s part of the history, I had the first print issue of REDemption in my hands, courtesy of an artist named Chuck. (At this point in time, the story was known by the longer name The Redemption Project.) Unfortunately it was the only issue he would ever draw.

Looking back, I don’t think his departure was a bad thing…not that he was a bad artist or a jerk, but for other reasons. I’m not going to get into all of that here, other than to mention what I have said previously: he thought I should rearrange the story, which would have screwed up my vision.

Now that I think about it, he didn’t say this to me until AFTER he had resigned. So maybe it was just a friendly suggestion in the form of parting words. Who knows? He hasn’t worked on it since that issue, so I guess the importance of his intent is long gone.

This left me floating in limbo. I could not afford some of the rates that people were asking, but I knew it was asking a lot to expect people to draw all of this for free. I tried shopping around via message boards and Craigslist ads again. Eventually someone responded: a young woman whose name I have forgotten, so I will just call her Christine.

At first, Christine told me she was willing to work for a rate of $10 per page. This stunned me, and I asked how she could possibly get away with that. She said it was because she still lived at home and had no bills. I said, “Well, that works!”

I sent her a couple character biographies, and she sent me back samples that were amazing. Then I gave her the script for Part One. Again, incredible results. Finally I said, “Okay, if you are ready to come on board, then I will send you the outline of the entire comic.” She said okay.

And that was where it took a dive.

She wrote me back with a critique of the story, saying how this and that tangent had nothing to do with the main thrust of the plot (meaning the search for a cure to the zombie virus). I can’t remember every change she suggested for the story, but I do remember her closing the email by saying, “In the end, these are only just suggestions. It is your story, and I will draw it like you want.”

I wrote back, saying, “Yes, the story stands as is.” I may have even offered a brief explanation of how the comic was “Dungeons and Dragons meets a Romero movie,” and then explained how D&D campaigns are LOADED with side adventures that have nothing to do with the main story.

Well, she proved her previous statement (“I’ll draw it like you want”) was insincere because once I set that boundary of her being the artist and me being the writer, she never contacted me again. This bummed me out because of the quality of her work, but if the alternative was to compromise my vision, then it’s better we didn’t wind up working together.

A handful of other artists came and went. Some were such blips on the radar that they aren’t even worth mentioning by name. Let’s just say it was a tough search and leave it at that, mmm-kay?

At one point, I got so fed up with the search that I decided it was time for me to take on the artistic duties myself. After all, I was the one who drew that 24-page origin story “Of Forces Beyond” back in high school. Why not?

I asked around for the best books that might help someone learn how to draw. Chuck recommended a trio of books from DC Comics. There were also a handful of books recommended by Jason Brubaker, who is infamous in the webcomic world.

I bought all these up…and then I never got around to opening ANY of them. Life was just too hectic at the time. The freelance writing work was coming in at a fast pace, and those assignments had deadlines so I could not push them aside. Plus my day job did not pay very well, so I had to keep doing overtime. There was a brief point in time where I just gave up on it.

Actually, no…scratch that. I never gave up. However, I had to accept the fact that there were other things in my life that required more attention.

Sometimes we have to put our dreams to sleep, because even they need to rest.

Join me next week for Part 12. I cannot say for sure that will be the last installment, because I thought we’d be done by THIS point! However, there is one thing I know for sure: it will be a fun-filled, passionate read!

~~~~~Steve

 

 

GUEST SUBMISSIONS: The Movie!

Hopefully this video will better explain what kind of submissions we want. We are NOT expecting you to create something brand new for our site. (After all, you’re already busy creating stuff for your own portfolio!) Watch and learn…and submit!

redemptioncomic2016@gmail.com

The Origins of REDemption Part 9

This has to be the slowest Thursday ever. As proof that it has knocked me for a loop, I am only just getting around to writing this blog post! Well, they always say “better late than never.” Now I am going to prove if “they” are right or not, my dear readers!

When we last visited the history of the comic, I had just whipped up an approach and outline to Part 4 of the story. (REMINDER: I modeled their search for the Immune Child after Captain Willard’s pursuit of Colonel Kurtz in APOCALYPSE NOW.)

However, there wasn’t enough time in my day to let me type up Part 3 while also writing Part 4. I had to choose, so I decided to focus on typing up the mammoth of Part 3, which (in handwritten form) had filled up FOUR 3-subject notebooks.

Needless to say, this was going to take some time. I didn’t want to lose touch with Part 4 completely, so I would take a couple minutes every day to just pore over the outline, making sure it was as tight as I could get it.

Somewhere along the way, I was talking with an old friend from high school about the comic via Facebook. I told her how the protagonists needed to go beyond the quarantine wall to look for a functional lab. She told me about the National Institute of Health (known as NIH going forward) and said that any research into searching for a zombie virus antidote would be bound to happen there.

I’d never heard of NIH before, so I looked it up. (Got to love Google!) While I was not able to get pictures of the interiors of the buildings, I DID manage to find a map of the entire grounds, with each building labeled. This got the old creative juices flowing.

At first I got hung up on the fact that I did not know what these buildings were set up like on the inside. Then one day I decided, “If people can suspend their disbelief and invest in a story with zombies and what not, then they can also accept the fact that I am going to manipulate the interior of every single NIH building.”

So that was what I did. I came up with a plan for how the team could invade the NIH, and I wrote up an outline for Part 5 with that as my starting point.

Needless to say, there is a LOT going on in Part 5. The team has to safely make it all the way east to the NIH. Not only is the Federal government still after them, but they also have to worry about other survivor groups. We are also introduced at long last to a full-blown view of the Unexpected Enemy. Last but not least, I created another major HUMAN antagonist in the form of an insane Army leader named General Phillips. Imagine if Thunderbolt Ross from THE INCREDIBLE HULK comics was completely insane, and you have General Phillips.

There were also some neat little twists that I threw in with FBI Agent Bill Davidson. I don’t want to say too much about what happens with him or we will wander into a spoiler mine field. Needless to say, he is not your typical one-dimensional, stone cold, humorless Agent Hotchner (Thomas Gibson’s character from CRIMINAL MINDS).

Eventually I finished typing up Part 3, and I dove right into writing Part 4. By this point the outline was incredibly well-crafted, so it was just a matter of taking each bullet point and fleshing it out into a full-blown story. Some bullet points took longer than others to bring to fruition, but in the end I think every last one of them was expanded to the necessary length.

My previous pattern had been to write a section out by hand and then type it up. However, that was only because I found myself temporarily stumped with how the action should flow in Parts 2, 3, and 4. I did not have that problem moving from Part 4 to Part 5; both outlines were written one after the other. Therefore I decided to move forward with writing the last segment of the tale. As always, the story flowed out of me almost faster than I could write it down; it’s like the words were all just sitting there in my brain, waiting to be discovered. Whenever a story writes itself, I take that as a good sign.

Now you may have noticed that, all while I am talking about the process of me writing it, I have done very little talking about any artists stepping up to draw it. In fact, the only artist I have mentioned is my former coworker Clarence.

For those of you who may be wondering what was happening on the visual side, fear not! I will address this in next week’s post because guess what? Just because I am closing in on the end of the writing process doesn’t mean the history is done being told!

 

~~~Steve

Now Accepting Guest Comics!

Hey everybody,

Due to good old life changes, it might take longer than one week to post a new episode of our webcomic REDemption. Therefore, I would like to open it up to guest comics. Got a one-shot deal that doesn’t fit anywhere else? Send it to us.

Please note: REDemption is a dark, post-apocalyptic, zombie type thing…so lighthearted Family Circus type stuff might not be the best fit!

If anyone is interested, please  email us directly:

redemptioncomic2016@gmail.com

Brief Intermission

Our main man Johnny has been a little under the weather, so we have to pause in our regular posting schedule. However, to fill the gap I wanted to share some promo artwork. Here is a vision of the soon to be main protagonist of the story, our very own butt kicking, zombie killing Molly Burroughs.

Writing News: Another Short Story (“Murder on a Bus”) and My Own Amazon Author Page

Anyone involved in zombie stories got quite a shock yesterday when the news came through that George Romero had died. I didn’t even know he had cancer. Then, all of a sudden, he’s gone. We will have a tribute to him here soon, but for now I want to celebrate two more of our accomplishments.

First up is yet another short story, published on Writer to Writers. It’s called “Murder on a Bus,” and it is filed under “horror/mystery.” Check it out:

“Murder on a Bus” (short story)

And just as big of an announcement, if not more so, is that I have launched my own Author Page on Amazon. At the moment it features only one poetry collection and a book about martial arts, but soon that will change. Not only will it feature more poetry, but it will also have several short stories.

Steve Grogan’s Amazon Author Page

The Origins of REDemption Part 2

Originally I did not think I was going to continue this topic with this week’s post, but then I figured, “Meh, why not?” I already have the train started on this particular track. Might as well get it to its destination, right? 🙂

So when we left off, I had gotten as far as my senior year of high school when I drew a 24-page comic book called “Of Forces Beyond,” about a group of 4 US soldiers in Vietnam who discover some of their enemies aren’t quite human. One of the soldiers dies, but then revives and attacks them. Eventually they find out about the zombie virus. They figure out how to kill them, but they don’t know what to do if they are infected.

In my opinion, that is where the story got interesting because here you are in the middle of a story that is part horror, part war…but now you also have part MYSTERY, because the soldiers need to investigate and figure out what to do.

So I drew that comic, and after that I lost interest in drawing. I can’t explain why. Guess it was just a phase I went through. I continued to write other kinds of stories in other formats (novels, screen and stage plays, short stories). Any time I saw a new Romero film or some other post-apocalyptic tale that rocked my world (28 DAYS LATER), I would always think, “Man, I’d love to write a zombie story, but I have no idea where to go with it!”

I think most people will agree: as far as foes go, zombies themselves are kind of boring. They don’t talk, so they don’t have personalities like Hannibal Lecter or Dracula. Also, they are slow as hell. These two facts stumped me for years. Decades, in fact.

Then in 2010 I started seeing commercials on AMC for a new TV show (based on a comic book) called THE WALKING DEAD. Frank Darabont was the main developer of the show. I’d heard Frank’s name for years. I was a huge fan of his work on films like A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3, THE BLOB remake, and of course THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. (Side note: By the way, that movie had no impact on what I called MY tale!)

I watched the commercial to see what it was going to be about, and it looked like pretty standard zombie fare. Still, there was a lot of buzz and excitement. Plus what can I say? I am a sucker for anything zombie; I have no taste, so I will watch it all just to see if I am pleasantly surprised.

October 31, 2010 came. I tuned in to the show. The opening scene where Rick Grimes is shot and in the hospital, only to wake up and find the zombie virus has ravaged the world, reminded me of 28 DAYS LATER. I wonder which came first: that scene in the comics, or 28 DAYS LATER’s version. Was it considered an homage to the movie? Or was the movie an homage to the opening of the comics? I have never taken the time to research the release dates on that.

Anyway, the action was your usual zombie stuff. The way to kill them was also typical. And yet the show drew me in. Why? Because of Lincoln Grimes. Because of Morgan Jones. Because of Shane Walsh. And of course, because of the amazing jobs the actors did portraying them. I don’t think it registered with me then, but I realize now that what draws people repeatedly to zombies stories are the HUMAN CHARACTERS IN THEM, and how they react and interact once the zombies have decimated civilization.

Once the episode was over, I posted a comment on Facebook that said, “Just watched WALKING DEAD and loved it. I have always wanted to write a zombie story myself, but I never have because I don’t know where to go with it. Seems like it’s all been done.”

Minutes later, a friend of mine named Nick replied. He said he’d always had similar ambitions. I moved the conversation to private messages, asking him if he could draw it since I already had the writing covered. To my dismay he said, “No, I can’t draw.” Still, I was excited about the idea of creating something as a writing team.

I moved the conversation from Facebook messenger to telephone. Nick and I discussed our ideas, with me going into detail about “Of Forces Beyond” and using that as a starting point, and him telling me how he’d had this idea of the virus being quarantined with a wall that ran up and down the entire West Coast. (PLEASE NOTE: This discussion was had in November 2010…six years before Trump started talking about his Mexico wall. How about that for visionary?!?!)

I hammered out some more ideas with Nick, like writing the story in 3 parts (since I am a huge trilogies fan). At that point, I don’t think I developed the “immune child” idea, although I know I mentioned it to him not long after that.

We talked for a little while longer, and then I had to get to bed. However, I promised him that I would start working on an outline ASAP.

And I did. 🙂

STAY TUNED FOR PART 3 NEXT WEEK!

 

~~~~~Steve G.

 

The Origins of REDemption Part 1

As you can tell by the title, this is going to be in multiple parts. I have been torn between whether I should go into the background in blog form or via our Official REDemption YouTube Channel, but I guess it should be here. After all, it can get quite lengthy. No one wants to sit at their computer and watch a “talking head” for that long!

At any rate, the story begins back in 1993-1994. I took English AP with a wonderful teacher named Linda Fowler. (For every year of school, my English teachers were always my favorite…except for junior year, when the curriculum was British literature. I can’t explain why, but back then I just didn’t enjoy that period.) The class wasn’t strictly English work: we also mixed in some learning about various schools of art, like Surrealism.

This was my first exposure to a man named Max Ernst, whose art had a profound impact on me. I found him to be more talented than the granddaddy of Surrealist painting, Salvador Dali. To some that might be sacrilege; to me, it’s simply a matter of personal preference. While I did enjoy Dali’s work, Ernst’s hit me on an emotional level.

At that point in my life, my artistic expression had been limited strictly to writing. I used to draw when I was younger (elementary school age), but as I got older, I abandoned that. The only time I drew in middle school was when I was in art class. When I got to high school and I did not have to take art, I stopped drawing completely.

Max Ernst’s work inspired me to give drawing another shot. I set about composing many bizarre, surreal images using regular and colored pencils. In fact, the other day I was cleaning out a desk at home and found several of them. (I think some pictures are in order!)

So you may wonder, “How did Max Ernst inspire you to write a zombie comic?” Well, I’m getting there.

After a brief explosion of Surreal creativity, the fire died down a little for me. I wanted to keep drawing, but I didn’t feel any inspiration to create anything whacky or nightmarish anymore. Then I thought, “Why not draw something that actually tells a coherent story?”

This wasn’t that farfetched of an idea for me. I believe it was in 8th or 9th grade when, after reading Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, I really wanted to draw a comic book. So I came up with a character who was a blatant rip-off of Batman and drew several “issues.” (I bet I have these embarrassing things lurking around somewhere too!)

As an interesting aside, I wanted to mention that here we stumble upon something else that has been a key feature of every form of artistic expression in which I have engaged: when I first start out, I always rip off whoever inspired me to get into it in the first place. With writing, my initial novel attempts ripped off Stephen King. (There was a vampire story a little too similar to ‘SALEM’S LOT, and another story about cyclical evil in a small town that was very close to IT.) In music, I wrote a lot of overly complex, meandering songs that completely aped the Smashing Pumpkins.

Anyhow, I don’t remember where the idea came from, but I decided to compose a “mini-trilogy” comic, which I called “Of Forces Beyond.” The name implies that the story might feature some kind of Lovecraftian monster from beyond our dimension, but it doesn’t, so I can’t explain the name. It sounded good, so I stuck with it.

The story concerned a group of four American soldiers in Vietnam. In the opening they get into a firefight, which they win. Upon examining the corpses of the enemy, they realize these soldiers have injuries that are much older than the wounds they just earned in the shootout…FATAL injuries. In other words, they just had a battle with men who should have already been dead.

Some time later, they are ambushed again, and one member of the group gets killed. However, shortly after this second fight is over, their killed comrade RISES UP FROM THE GROUND and attacks them. They shoot him…stab him…bludgeon him…but he keeps coming at them, until one member of the group puts a bullet through his head, and he drops like a stone. (Any good horror fan will recognize a Romero inspiration there: “Kill the brain, and you kill the ghoul.”) From this point on, the surviving soldiers become obsessed with discovering just what the hell is happening.

I drew the comic in 3 “acts” or parts. Each one was 8 pages long. Looking back on it, I didn’t do too bad. I’m no Johnny Carruba, but I did pretty good just the same. *wink*

Well, that’s enough history for now. Please, go back to the main page and enjoy the show!

 

~~~~~Steve G.