The Long Road To Henchmen Inc.

Tim Simmons writes for Bleeding Cool:

Henchmen_COVER

ARTICLE:

If you're an aspiring comic creator, there's a good chance you've been to my site, The Comic Book Script Archive– hell, if you're a fan of Bleeding Cool, I know you've been there to pick up Rich's script for Watchmensch, right? (http://www.comicbookscriptarchive.com/archive/uncategorized/watchmensch-by-rich-johnston/)

The Archive was started back in 2007, just as I was getting started on the "aspiring" phase of my writing career. I had a story about Henchmen I'd wanted to write since 2005– and in my head, it made sense that if I studied a bunch of professional scripts, I'd be a published comic writer in, what? A year?

…cut to seven years later.

Sure, I did stuff in between, I was on DC's Zuda site, I wrote four issues of a webcomic, and freelanced as an entertainment blogger, but it was a long road to my little story about the fellas who rock the domino masks and pork-pie hats.

I think one of the big hangups of "dream projects" is knowing when you're ready. Back in 2005, I was nowhere near ready to tackle Henchmen Inc. I can show you the notes– a rambling collection of cool scenes and funny (mileage variable) jokes, and a plot that barely held the whole thing together. And there were no real characters, to boot. So y'know, there was no real story.

I never gave up on it. Every few years, I'd take what I learned and reapply it to outlines, notes, etc. And by early 2012, I started to feel like it was getting there– the only problem was, while I'd buffed up on mechanical skills, I didn't know what the story was about.

That's when my wife told me she wanted to show me something:

Twins_US

Do you see that AAA and BBB in the picture? Yeah, it took me a minute to figure out what that meant too.

Holy Shit. Twins.

I didn't realize it at the moment (in fact, I was probably busy taking a shot of whiskey to calm my nerves) but there, somewhere in the back of my head, I suddenly knew exactly what Henchmen Inc was about:

Meet Michael Finch, a two-time loser and expectant father, who's discovering that going legit is tough with a life long rap sheet. Luckily for Finch, there's an outfit in town handing out gigs to goons– health benefits included! It's exactly what he needs, but Finch is about to discover there is much more to being a Henchman than taking punches from a cape…

Sure, it's about lowlife jerks, and superheroes, villains, and maybe has a fart joke in it, but what it was really about was everything that I felt in that moment: Holy Shit. I'm going to be a dad? I'm not qualified to do this! I don't have my shit together! I gotta get my shit together!

HENCHMEN ART 1

So, I had roughly nine months to get this thing done. I mean, I figured I'd be kinda busy with two newborns. So, writing commenced, and I went out to an artist I'd had my eye on for a bit: Jim McMunn, who had the exact fun/playful style, plus the storytelling chops that Henchmen Inc needed. As it happened, the pitch really connected with Jim, as quite serendipitously, he was about to become a father as well.
HENCHMEN ART 2

In retrospect, here's a hot tip: If you're a father-to-be, it probably isn't an ideal time to try to launch a comic book. Needless to say, there were some…delays.

But all that time spent building cribs, painting rooms, and researching strollers, actually worked out in our favor. Since I had time, and I wanted this story to be as good as it possibly could be, I signed up for Andy Schmidt's Comics Experience and ran the script through the workshop. There, I got stellar notes from Jeff Parker, Alejandro Arbona (Valiant Comics/Casanova editor), and Nicole Boose (Iron Man Extremis/Millarworld editor). Their positive feedback kept me motivated on the book during those long days/weeks between movement– and even after my, and Jim's, children arrived and we were still cranking away, I would look over their notes and think: These are pros who have made some of my favorite books, and they're saying this doesn't suck. We need to keep at it.

HENCHMEN ART 3

So we powered through. Through the sleep deprived 2am feedings, the colic screaming fests (colic, a word I didn't know existed until that second month…I hate that word now) and the teething…my god, the teething

Jim and I knew we had a story that was personal, and exciting, fun, and funny…Thankfully, my pal, D.J. Kirkbride (of Amelia Cole, which I can't highly recommend enough) agreed, and championed us to Chris Roberson and Allison Baker at Monkeybrain.

I can't speak highly enough of Chris and Allison, who were totally cool with our initial delays. My day-job was a client-driven world where waiting for months on creative material would have called for a flaying. Or at the very least, an email with the subject line: "Where's my fucking shit, you fucking slacking loser!"
But Monkeybrain was totally supportive and didn't pressure us in the least, giving us the freedom to spend time with our families and fine-tune our comic.

…And so at last, this Wednesday (6/18) HENCHMEN INC, a little seed of a comic book idea that began in 2005, finally enters the world! I couldn't be prouder of the book, and although it was a long road, with an unforeseen layover in Baby-Town, it simply wouldn't have been the same story without the exact path it took.

If you've made it this far into this article, I can only hope you're willing to check out our labor of love. It'd mean a lot to two newish dads, who love making comics! Henchmen Inc is available for pre-order on Comixology, for 99 cents. It will release on 6/18.

https://www.comixology.com/Henchmen-Inc-1/digital-comic/110075

Now, if you'll excuse me, I do have some diapers to change!

PS: Although we're really proud of our book, our proudest achievements are these little buggers:

JIM AND SON

AMELIA AND MADDIE

Henchmen Inc on Twitter: @Henchcomic

Henchmen Inc on Tumblr: www.henchmencomic.tumblr.com

Enjoyed this? Please share on social media!

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.
Comments will load 8 seconds after page. Click here to load them now.