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JUNKYARD ANGELS: In The Beginning

JUNKYARD ANGELS
ROBOTS, ZOMBIES, & A BROKEN HEART, EVERYTHING A GROWING BOY NEEDS
After the mysterious suicide of his boyfriend, a disabled teen with a prosthetic arm is thrown out of the world he loved by a synthetic virus that has begun corrupting and destroying all the people around him. Jason must now battle through a technological Armageddon as he searches for the answers to stop the spread of the virus, save what’s left of the world, and maybe even rescue the boy he loves.

Preview: Chapter 14

 

 

In The Beginning

Sometimes ideas come out fully formed, but some come out a bit at a time forcing the writer out on a maddening scavenger hunt through themes and disparate subject matters in search of a story…
In these cases, you have to build them piece by piece from the scattered pieces as you gather them. Sometimes you have to make stuff up to fill holes, for example adding elements that you find around the house, as needed:  A memory here, some dirty laundry there, tuck in a newspaper clipping or two and bundle it all in an emotional scar for good measure.  Sometimes this scavenger hunt takes years to complete, and during that time the writer stumbles around groping blindly without knowing the rules and only vaguely aware of some hazily defined goal.  Junkyard Angels kind of happened like that.

The core idea for Junkyard Angels started as an offhand thought as a movie I wished someone would make so that I could watch. I’d just finished watching TETSUO THE IRONMAN, an experimental almost non-narrative film about a man who discovers that he is turning into a machine. The film is more of a montage of images, sight gags and sounds than a story. But as soon as it was over, I thought to myself “Wow!  It would be cool if someone told this story with an actual story arc, and characters that the audience was meant to care about!”, sort of like Cronenberg’s FLY, but with robots.
I played with some variations on this idea for a long time with out much progress.  A few years later, I read an article about a rare form of Lyme disease called Morgellons.  One of the more bizarre symptoms was the growth of glowing polyester like fibers. For a long time, doctors had no idea what it was or how to treat it.  The article linked to another, which linked to another, and I eventually ended up reading a forum by people afflicted with this disease.   As people shared their stories, speculations and theories, I noticed a loud minority which was convinced that Morgellons was actually a synthetic virus created as a form of biological warfare and accidentally loosed on the population.

 

There was also a distraught mother, who explained how she’d actually be accused of “Munchausen’s Proxy” by her physician when her infant continued to develop symptoms.

Munchausen by proxy syndrome (MBPS) is a relatively uncommon condition that involves the exaggeration or fabrication of illnesses or symptoms by a primary caretaker.

Again I thought, “Wow, that would make a fantastic story!”  And again I wasn’t able to accomplish much of anything. Whatever was out there that could make the idea cohesive and gripping remained elusive. I continued to dabble with it occasionally re-working ideas and swapping out characters and plot points. But for some reason it never really occurred to me that these were all attempts at the same story.
Later, I was asked to contribute to an anthology comic about “Visions of the Future”.  I threw together a six page vignette about a troubled teen agonizing over the thought of “coming out” to his parents and, finally when he can’t take it any longer, he kills himself.

But his death reveals that he was actually a robot.  The gag being that somehow a biomechanical being would be the next minority subject to prejudice and fear.  I was even able to convince Zach Enea draw it.  But when the Anthology project was cancelled, the mini story was shelved, and nearly forgotten for yet another year.
In 2009, I produced some short humorous comics for, DoorQ , people seemed to enjoy the strips but my heart wasn’t in it.  I was still searching for the idea that I could really get excited about.  In the spring of 2010 Jody asked me to put the shelved short story up.  I was hesitant at first.  I felt it was incomplete, and lacked meaning with out the context of the anthology.  Furthermore, I thought that the world that the story presented was horrifyingly pessimistic and obsolete. Certainly Teen suicide wasn’t a continuing crisis among the gay community. We’d grown past that.  Public acceptance of the LGBTQ population has never been better.  Glee told me, so it must be true.
He encouraged me and finally I finally allowed him to put it up.  Reaction to the strip was mostly enthusiastic with more than a few calls for “what happens next?”  Shortly after the comic posted, the news started reporting an alarming string of  Teen Suicides linked to bullying and homophobia.  I was shocked, and sickened.   Actually to be completely honest, I felt a little bit guilty at first.  But maybe the story was relevant and even topical.

So I took another look at the story, and started to really ask- What does happen next? And finally it clicked.  The story wasn’t about Bobby; of course not he’s already dead.  The story is in fact about the survivors, and specifically, the boyfriend.
With this new perspective, the pieces of the story started to fit together like they’d never done before. Characters that had popped up in earlier versions only to fizzle out returned in new and exciting ways. The mother with the sick baby was back, the Hypochondriac returned (albeit as a completely new character), and it all revolved around a boy, racing against the clock on a quest to solve the mystery behind his boyfriend’s death while his world transformed into something horrifying.
Since then it’s been a constant whirlwind of creation, revision, and more revision. I really couldn’t have gotten this far without the work of my partner and artist Zach Enea.  His visual sensibilities and tireless output has been raising the story to a new level since the beginning.
One of the great benefits of working with my artists is that my ideas are constantly being revised and embellished. And each time the images and story grow richer than they were when I came up with them.  Zach’s pencil work is constantly forcing me to reanalyze the pacing and dialog. What are the characters really saying to each other? What is being communicated visually without words?  Once this is complete Andrew Whelan’s colors add nuance and tone to our work that brings yet another layer to the experience.

-PKE
Follow along with us here as new chapters are posted, as well as updates from our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Junkyard Angels Cover Page

Junkyard Angels Forward

Junkyard Angels: How To Write a Comic Part 1

 

1 Comment

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  1. marrta says
    August 13, 2011, 6:33 am

    Congratulation!

    Reply

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