Dragonrage – How I Found An Artist To Draw It and a David Finch Cover

Dave Philpott has what he described as 'A Half-Ass Indiegogo Pitch.' He writes; This is about a cool, sexy new comic called Dragonrage. There is a butt-load of talented people working on it, and we're about to launch an Indiegogo campaign for it. But first, I want to tell you why it was never, ever going to happen.

I have a theory there are more lead singers and comic book writers than there are musicians and artists because everyone thinks he or she can sing or write, whereas you can smell a rotten guitarist or penciller a mile away.

Anyway, I used to be a lead singer. And I write comic books. Nice to meet you.

Dragonrage - And How I Found An Artist To Draw It.
Dragonrage image.

I had my first comic book story published in 1990. I was fresh out of high school when I answered an ad looking for writing submissions to Allied Comics, an upstart company based out of Utica, New York. All of that sounded super impressive, so I fired off a writing package and was offered two jobs right out of the gate. Easy peasy.

The first story was a short called "Flies," and it was part of a horror anthology called Tales from the Balcony. The second was a pilot for a title called Planet Force. I'm telling you all of this because I never received a copy of either, and the company folded after publishing their first few comics, so if you have a copy, please get in touch with me. I'm tired of telling that story without a book to show people.

I never published another story after that.

Over the years, I tried to get more work. I sent off submission packages to just about every company out there. (The closest I came was a piece in MAD that I will go to the grave telling you were stolen from me.) I had to face a hard fact: I needed an artist like a lead singer needs a band.

(Here's something no one will tell you: everybody hates reading scripts. I'll prove it to you. Think about how long you would spend looking at comic art online. Think about how many books on artwork you've read or browsed through. Now think about how long you would read comic book scripts online. Think about how many books you've read with just scripts. No contest, right? People hate reading scripts so much; they won't even proofread their own. It's a fact.)

So, I needed an artist to help get my stories looked at and possibly published. Turns out, finding an artist is a lot harder than finding a band to jam with.

After many false starts and barks up the wrong tree, in 2005, I found a guy named Jimmy Reyes on Digital Webbing. You might know his work; he has a YouTube channel where he posts tutorials, and he has inked artists like David Finch. Back then, he had some work published through Antarctic Press. He was looking for a writer to help him with a project, and long story short, I ended up working with him. We developed a story, he did character designs, and I plotted a six-issue arc and scripted the first issue.

Then it all fell apart. Jimmy and I lost touch, and I gave up on comics. Look, Jimmy was going through a rough patch at the time, so cut him some slack.

Me, I turned so hard on comics that I quit reading them. I was spending as much as fifty dollars a week on books, and I just stopped cold turkey. I was broken-hearted, but not as much as the owner of the comic store I frequented.

Now, at this point, you may be thinking, "What the hell does this have to do with an Indiegogo campaign?" Well, I'm getting to that.

See, it turns out Jimmy Reyes had been putting together inking tutorials on YouTube for the past few years, and one day the algorithm gods suggested one of his videos to me. I dropped him a message, and he responded. He had been looking for me for years, he said. He had some ideas, and he had tried to work with other writers, but he just couldn't find what he was looking for. Would I be interested in looking at his ideas?

Dragonrage - And How I Found An Artist To Draw It.
Dragonrage image.

And here we are. As I write this, Jimmy and I have a project called Dragonrage that is building a ton of momentum. I have several stories plotted, and the first two scripts are written. Jimmy has most of the artwork for issue one completed, and you will never guess who is doing the cover for our first story… David Frickin', Finch. And we have colors by Andrew Dalhouse. The only way it could get any better is if Grant Morrison emailed me to co-plot the next arc, and Tom Orzechowski offered to letter it.

Dragonrage - And How I Found An Artist To Draw It.
Dragonrage image.

A year ago, comics were the last thing on my mind. Now I'm part of a company called Page One Comics with a YouTube channel and an Indiegogo prelaunch page. We have a community of people contributing fan art, which you can check out in our digital preview.

The story is about a young woman named Nuri, who grew up an orphan in the kingdom of Black Cliff. One day, not long ago, she found she could turn into a dragon. No big deal, right? Except, one, everyone thinks all the dragons are dead and gone, and two, who the hell can turn into a dragon? The kingdom promptly tries to weaponize her, but two things are becoming apparent. All the dragons may not be dead after all, and it's never safe nor wise to assume you can control a young lady, let alone one who can turn into a dragon.

Dragonrage - And How I Found An Artist To Draw It.
Dragonrage image.

So, that's my story about why Dragonrage was never going to happen. I was going to get into all the business about why you shouldn't give up on your dreams, but the hell with that. You make up your own mind about where your dreams are going.

Right now, mine are going where they always should have been.



About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

twitter   facebook square   instagram   globe