From the Author: Epiphany and BeyondPosted: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 I began fleshing out Westward in January of 2009 for almost biological reasons. I realized that I was suddenly closer to 30 years old than 20, and although my great motivating desire has always been to tell stories, I'd never actually gotten around to doing it. Ten years of creative fits and starts were sitting in dust-gathering sketchbooks and discarded first-drafts. As I became increasing distressed about this realization, my good wife took care in convincing me that it would actually be okay to get up early every morning and spend some time on creative pursuits rather than launching right into work. With her encouragement, I began to believe that maybe it would be possible to tell a stories rather than simply thinking of them.
So the question became: What kind of story? And how would I tell it?
It was a long and difficult process making the initial decisions that finally led me to settle on a daily comic strip. The worst part was the panic attack I had when I realized that a daily format was a better idea than the weekly. It would mean a huge level of commitment—literally one strip every day—to pull off. But I'm glad I did; daily strips are easier to consume and easier to follow, and the frantic pace of creation means that I don't have time to be a perfectionist, which is important.
Another big thing was that I needed to tell a story that I would enjoy continuing to tell for a long time. I settled on Westward after months of conceptualization because it seemed to have the greatest overall potential as a story that could unfold slowly over time and remain compelling. A large cast of interesting characters living in a setting that is rich and complex, but doesn't require an undue amount of initial explanation. In terms of story, it has all the elements that I personally find compelling: Complicated people that change over time; situations that are always more than they seem to be; intrigue, disillusionment, adventure, and a healthy dose of drama based on good old human weakness. The setting is also a hodge-podge of stuff that I like: It's Star Trek tossed in a blender with healthy dollops of classic sci-fi, pulp adventure, serial drama, and supernatural horror.
So it's 1.5 years and 130 strips later (actually 185 strips, since I completed Episode One at the end of March), and I'm incredibly glad that I've taken this on. As I've told this story so far, it's continued to develop in my mind in exciting and surprising ways, and I can't wait to show you what comes next. The art has progressed from barely presentable to somewhat competent. And most importantly, the small group of readers that has gravitated to Westward so far are some of the most intelligent, interesting, and talented people I've ever talked to; if the quality of a work can be judged by quality of the people who like it, I can't help but be flattered.
Episode One: Epiphany Was designed to be a sort of primer on what to expect from Westward. It opened up a dozen mysteries and only began to solve a fraction of them. Each situation is an incomplete glimpse of a larger picture. Each character you've met is, in some way or another, not what he or she seems to be...but on the other hand, the characters are exactly what you'd expect them to be: Namely, human. At it's core, Epiphany was a story of failure, and of how humans deal with it. We deny, we learn, we grow, and we question the meaning of it all. That seemed like a good place to start.
The next episode, which I'm calling "Weight of Ages," is about time and the finality of choice. It's about the butterfly effect that takes place every day, when a seemingly obvious decision changes us in ways we can never expect. It's also about finding love and losing it, and about uncovering truths about people and situations that, despite being uncovered, refuse to make sense. And I might venture to hope that it will all be wrapped up in a good dose of suspense and adventure. I'm positively chomping at the bit to share it with you. Care to venture on?