Scum of the Earth

So let’s take some time to talk about my graphic novel Scum of the Earth.

Or I guess I’ll talk and you’ll listen…or I’ll type and you’ll read, this isn’t very interactive.

Scum of the Earth came about in a couple of ways. The first was a random post on Facebook about a tagline for a comic I developed waaaay back in high school called the Corpse Corps. You see how clever I am? Playing on the fact that most people don’t know that ‘corps’ is pronounced ‘core’. Corpse Corps. It was a bunch of undead zombie-ish characters (and this was at least 10-15 years before the current zombie craze hit). The idea never developed beyond an initial drawing of a bunch of zombified, rotting characters and the tag line “Life’s a bitch, but death is a bastard.”

So one day, at random, that tag line came back into my head and I posted it on Facebook. Just because. And then something happened.

I’ve talked about my buddy Rolf Lejdegård before. He’s a friggin’ walking comic book idea machine. The guy has more comic ideas before breakfast than most people have in their lives. I suspect ancient rituals involving the killing of goats and massive amounts of coffee are involved…

But anyway, I put the tag line up and promptly forgot about it. It was just a thing to post, you know?  So I post it…and in comes Rolf with the world’s biggest literary hand grenade…and he hands me this:

“Meet Laura Bitch and True Bastard – two bourbon toasted gunslingers caught between hardcore scores and soul depraved rehab! Dirty, violent and simple, or so it seems…but who is the alien hitman and why is he after the mysterious markings on the insides of Laura’s heart?”

Yeah, I know, right? He totally blew up my idea (which, to be honest, wasn’t much of an idea) and replaced it with the genius idea of a modern day Bonnie and Clyde kind of story. I immediately knew I had to write this. I had to.

So I did. I developed the story over a day or two (everything was burning a big fat hole in my brain, I couldn’t rest), and started scripting. I decided early on to make this a graphic novella of fifty pages or so. And I wrote those fifty pages in one intense six-hour writing session. I came out of it with a pounding headache and I wanted to puke, but I had the story done. Fifty pages. I did my second pass a couple days later, fixed a few things, and then just like that, it was done.

The second thing that happened with this is that I started looking for an artist, and got a message on Facebook from an artist named Rob Croonenborghs. Rob has previously illustrated the 215 Ink book “Jesus Hates Zombies: A Jurassic Kinda Life”, and he actually told me he was a fan and had me at the top of his list of writers to work with. I don’t think I’ve ever been at the top of anyone’s list for anything! I presented the idea to him, and he took it and ran.

And fucking ran. He started sending me sketches, character designs, and thumbs for the first batch of pages. As a 50-page book, he broke it down into 10-page chunks to work on. I was stunned when I saw the first pages start to come together. Rob has an incredibly original style that continues to blow me away. It was gritty and dusty and sun-baked and felt like the desert. It was everything I wanted.

Rob’s a machine. He pencils, inks, colors, and letters Scum of the Earth. He nailed the cover, and put together the book jacket we ended up using. Ah fuck it, here it is:

Scum of the Earth cover

The story actually started out with the title Laura Bitch and the True Bastard, but once we had a good bunch of pages ready and started submitting them, we got a bit of negative feedback on the title. Which made sense, I think. We weren’t trying to be insulting at all, it was just the names of the characters, but Rob and I decided to make a change to the title, so it became Scum of the Earth. Actually, the title is “Laura and True in Scum of the Earth”. It felt like a good title, as this was like an old grindhouse movie turned into words and pictures on pages.

As I write this, Rob’s finished full art for 40 pages, and has done pencils for the last 10. He’s a perfectionist, and has gone back to correct things in the first batch of pages (not that I ever thought anything needed fixing, but who am I to argue when I get results like these?).

Pretty soon (as in early 2013) we’ll have a fully completed, 50-page graphic novel in a genre I’ve taken to calling “southern fried sci-fi”. All that remains after that is finding a home for it, a publisher willing to take a gamble on it. Having seen the pages, having read the thing, I don’t think that’ll be too difficult.

So, as it gets closer to Christmas and work gets busier, I’m having a hard time keeping a 5-day-a-week blog going, so starting today, I’m going Monday-Wednesday-Friday for the foreseeable future. I promise it’ll be worth it.

Do yourself a favor and listen to “Bellaclava” by Limblifter.

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