Short stories. I’m not a fan. Let me clarify: Of reading them? Yes, absolutely. Of writing them? I can’t stand them.
I shouldn’t say I can’t stand them, more like I don’t feel like I’m particularly good at writing them. I struggle with short stories. I tend to think and write in a long-form setup. I’m a wordy bastard. I know guys who can write some incredible, meaningful and inspiring short stories. Guys who use short stories as their bread and butter. I’m in awe of those writers, because they make it look so easy, while I struggle and have blood pour out of my eyes when I’m writing something short. 8 pages isn’t a lot of real estate…
Now, all of that said: I’ve written an awful lot of short stories. Here’s the list. Because I know you wanted to know.
- “Miasma” – in the anthology Weird Zombie Horror, illustrated by Lee Lightfoot.
- “Living Dead” – in the Oxymoron volume 1 anthology, illustrated by Carl Yonder.
- “Unit 731” – in FUBAR volume 2, Empire of the Rising Dead, illustrated by Carl Yonder.
- “Breakneck: The Last Day of the Ghostwalker” in the anthology Ignition volume 1, illustrated by Michael Tyler.
- “Apes With Uzis: The Package” in the 215 Ink 2012 Free Comic Book Day flipbook, illustrated by Peebo Mondia.
- “Breakneck: The Secret Origin of Captain Stone”, currently unreleased, illustrated by Carl Yonder.
- “Aches and Pains” in the anthology Ignition volume 1, illustrated by Noel Tuazon.
- “Leo Cosmos” in the anthology Ignition volume 1, illustrated by Carl Yonder.
- “The Legend of Mose the Fireboy” in FUBAR volume 3, American History Z, illustrated by Eric Spohn.
- “Capacity”, currently unreleased, planning to submit to Challenger Comics, illustrated by, you guessed it, Carl Yonder.
- “Breakneck: A Punchup at a Wedding (aka the Origin of Ethan Shade)”, currently unreleased, illustrated by Allen Byrns.
- “Unring the Bell” in the anthology Ignition volume 1, illustrated by Jerome Eyquem.
Twelve short stories…wow, that’s actually not that much at all. But five of them were illustrated by Carl! Carl’s really my most trusted collaborator. We’re on the same wavelength when it comes to creating comics, which is why we work together so often.
I think that’s all of them. So far, nine of the twelve have been published (or are soon-to-be-published). There’s the one story that’s going to be submitted to Challenger, and the other unreleased Breakneck shorts will be used…somewhere. Just not quite sure yet.
Another thing I should point out: both Aches and Pains and Capacity were originally going to be much longer stories. I’d plotted them both out to 3-4 issues apiece. The shorts, as they exist now, were originally introductory scenes to the longer form story. But once in a while, I’ll write one of those opening scenes…and realize I don’t need to go any farther. What I’ve written stands nicely on its own.
It’s not always like that, though. When I’m asked to specifically write a short story, my eyes cross, my brain starts to eat itself, and I end up extremely frustrated, punching the computer in the face until it gives me eight pages of story, instead of the 80 pages of story I normally want to write.
I think there’s an art to the short story, and it’s one I just have not mastered. I’m going to challenge myself, though, and work on some more shorts – but I’m going to set those shorts within some of my longer stories. Like, I’ll write a couple of shorts based on the Long Gone universe, take a look at a couple of other characters. Writing the Breakneck shorts, that was a lot of fun. And I’m already familiar with my own stories (naturally), so expanding on them shouldn’t prove all that difficult. And it gets me back into those stories again.
Maybe a Long Gone anthology could become a thing…
Anyway, my hat is tipped to those writers who can see an eight-page story and know exactly how it will start, middle, and end. I can do that…when it’s sixty or eighty pages.
Just need more practice.
Do yourself a favor and go listen to “Burn, Piano Island, Burn” by the Blood Brothers. You’re welcome.