Jesse James Higgins writes for Bleeding Cool:
A box of comics arrived at my door Tuesday, October 22nd. The comics were a day early. The box that protected them was much smaller than the one I’d imagined. Much, much smaller. My mind was two things as I signed the delivery man’s signature pad: 1) fatlistic… “Oh no,” my brain taunted me. “Not all of the comics got shipped. There won’t be enough for the comic con booth,” and 2) strangely nostalgic… it was as if my history was being stirred and sifted inside and around me, the waking womb kind of place where you can feel things in the air that were never more than ephemeral in the first place. It was as if memories, feelings and memories of feelings were standing guard as I made distracted small talk with awesomely energetic Roy, the FedEx delivery man (FedEx was seriously on their game!).
The twenty page Issue 1 of “The Tasting” had come home, expedited to me by printNINJA to set my nerdyplace aflutter. I thought about the woman named Stessa inside the pages of The Tasting that has stolen so much of my attention from Jemima, my amazing and supportive wife. Stessa is a young woman who gets kidnapped and refashioned into a vampire by an obsessive scientist. She escapes the lab but all hell breaks loose because she can’t escape who she was and what she has become. The scientist wants her back. There’s even a weird love story… Then one memory burst vividly in front of me as I told Roy goodbye and took the courier box inside my house. I was five and I’d cooked up what must have been the most amazing story ever because I’d forgone cartoons, animal planet, and snake hunting to sit at my parents coffee table with pen, paper, pencil crayons, chocolate milk, and stapler. I wrote the story. Then I drew the pictures and all the pictures sucked. I remember looking at those pictures and being sick with frustration and confusion… I also remember a deformed horse that wasn’t supposed to look deformed on one of the pages. I hated what I saw! I knew what I wanted my characters to look like and they weren’t even close! I threw the book in the garbage.
Since then I’ve wandered through a hyper-cliched underachieving, want-to-be writer existence. I dreamed of authorly success but a small pile of rejection letters from publishers never offered that footing. And now I’m married to a beautiful wife, still underachieving (my wife and I are so far away from home ownership and other things young married people are ‘supposed’ to strive for that it’s actually funny – we drive through new subdivisions and giggle because we can’t afford the front door on most of the houses…) and making comic books. But a book with beautiful pictures came home twenty-three years after I garbaged my first effort! And then I celebrated the weird and wonderful way “The Tasting” had come to life.
Scott Dewey – the artist in our two person delta force called Red Rage Comics – and I met at a group home where we both worked with a brain injured man who’s five delights in life were chain smoking, punching microwaves, hating Ford trucks, calling Scott and I “badgers” and generally despising everything. Scott and I had barely met in passing, but on another Tuesday (that’s the day Scott and I worked together) Scott brought his sketchbook to work. I had finished an experimental sci-fi novel the night before. A lightbulb went off in my head when I saw his sketches and I told him bluntly, “We’re going to make comics.” Then I spent three weeks trying to convince him of the fact that we were destined to make comics together! I guess years of narcissistic failure breeds shamelessness, or something! And now, months later, we have a dozen stories to tell and we’re trying to Kickstart our way to enough time and resource to make one of them reality in its fullness…
And now I realize that I am totally shameless! I”m Kickstarting “The Tasting” because I need help to turn Stessa’s story into a 60+ page beautiful horror/sci-fi graphic novel with a bloodbeating heart and because it’s fun to pour yourself into your dreams… So, to the Bleeding Cool community, I offer the following fun stuff:
1) If you help us reach our $3,000 goal this weekend, I will include a two page mini-comic in the back of The Tasting. The mini-comic will be dedicate to Bleeding Cool and its fans on its first page. The subject of the mini-comic will be based on the best Bleeding Cool fan story suggestion; for instance, a story suggestion could be: “a comic book fan, a hideously deformed Bulgarian werewolf, and a chicken walk into a bar/blood bank. Create.” The Bleeding Cool fan who’s suggestion we use will then be given the option to send us a photo and be featured as a character in the story that ensues! Be as creative as possible!
2) If you help us reach our $3,000 goal this weekend I will video tape myself dancing furiously to a Miley Cyrus song (I just lied – I already did this…). But I’ll post the video to our Red Rage Comics youtube page in dedication to Bleeding Cool!
3) If you blow our minds and get us to our $5,000 art section stretch goal, we’ll extend the Bleeding Cool mini-comic to 4 pages!
4)$10,000!?! wut! $10,000! Scott and I will don wigs and read you love poems! Shameless? Sure! Heartfelt? Of course! Sexy? Yes. Undeniably yes!
Regardless of what happens with Kickstarter, what I’ll always remember from Tuesday, October 22nd is the incredible smell that touched my face when I cut open my box of comic books. It smelled like Heaven. It took me deep into every sense of failure and every moment of determination to keep trying, and I breathed it in until I couldn’t smell it anymore. Daunting was a word that came to mind for some reason. It’s just really strange to hold your own creation in your hands… That moment of touch was like being bowled over by an overwhelming sense of vulnerability. It’s as if the desires of my heart were suddenly laid bare before people who may or may not care. Or more to the point, it’s like an about-to-be parent hoping their baby isn’t the one people pretend is cute!
We printed the first 20 pages of “The Tasting” for our local comic con (Lethbridge Comic Con) on November 1st and I got to touch the gargantuan piece of my heart held inside that small delivery box. 100 comics isn’t much in reality. It really isn’t. But the day I opened that box was more monumental for me than I could have imagined… Thanks for reading my blurb and thanks for your help!