MY STORY OF HEROWOOD:
I’ve been writing comics since about 1996, when I was an awkward nerdy kid passing wround “The Adventures of SuperTwinkie and the Masked Ding-Dong” during Mr. Gelpke’s Honors Physics class while his back was turned. When I served a Mormon Mission in 2000, I animated my adventures in panel form in all of my letters back home. In college my attention turned to stories of sci-fi and fantasy and superheroes in the form of Youtube videos and sketch comedy performances. Our mockumentary about LARPers helped me in a time when I was also trying to run away from the reality that I was a closeted gay man. In studying theater and scriptwriting in college, I cemented my love (and need) for telling stories to connect with people and uncover truths about the world.
The prototype for the characters at the heart of Herowood were brainstormed with a friend one night over a decade ago during a customary obscenely late IHOP trip. When I met my writing partner Eric Phillips in the theater program at school almost ten years ago, they were some of the first characters we pitched to him: the boy with the power to blend into a crowd and the girl who sparkles, both of whom struggle to get noticed for the right reasons. After Eric and I moved to Hollywood to pursue our dreams of telling our stories on a larger scale, the setting for our comic was born. Herowood: a place people move to from all over the country to try to make it as superheroes. Their families back in Tinytown and Carbonville might doubt them, the public might not ever recognize them, other heroes might ignore them, but they won’t stop trying to make a difference. Write what you know, right?
Two years ago, however, our story nearly ended before it really began. Eric and I had a script we were proud of and had years of stories planned out. We had met an amazing artist, Cathleen Abalos, but there were still many obstacles in our way before we could sign her and start producing our work. Where do we host this thing? How do we get eyes on it? What else can we do with it? How can we get it financially self-sustainable? We’re artists primarily, and still learning the ins and outs of the business side of the industry. We continued to create, write, and work our way up, with Eric finally landing a gig writing on the Netflix superhero show “The Umbrella Academy,” while I covered comedy for advocate.com. Together we continued to do sketch comedy and wrote “Les Midge,” a musical mashup of “The Hobbit” and “Les Miserables” that you might have seen at San Diego Comic-Con a few years back. Almost on a whim, while talking to a contact about a new production of his satirical show “Fox News: The Musical,” Eric pitched Herowood, hoping we could finally get it made as a web comic.
That contact, Tony Smith, believed in us from the start. As we brainstormed ways to make the story reach its desired audience and discussed what had prevented us from getting there previously, we realized there must be more people in our shoes: creators sitting on properties at various stages of development who are trying to discover what we do next. The idea for Comixlore was born out of those discussions. Eventually we decided to try to launch both at the same time. Our dream vision for Comixlore is a site where readers can find webcomics and where creators can get more than just hosting, but rather a support system that actively works with them to promote readership and help creatives navigate the business of their art while retaining creative control.
The launch has admittedly been rocky. We’re building this thing from the ground up. What began as a pitch six weeks ago has already gotten us far more attention than we were ready for, as our focus has been on the Herowood side and perfecting the storytelling there to get our first sixteen pages ready to go online. Some webcomic gurus have dragged us on Twitter over typos and delays (which, fair enough. We’re getting better all the time, just like all the best people). The bottom line is, Comixlore will very likely go through a few more iterations, and we are trying to listen to the community and see what people are looking for from such a site. We know alternatives exist, but we’re interested in letting creators maintain creative rights and in offering more services than just hosting. Meanwhile, Herowood remains our passion project, and the fact that we are on the verge of getting this story out to you has me so excited. In the wake of #metoo and #oscarssowhite and other scandals, Hollywood is a ripe setting for stories abouut people with powers and disguises. The city of Herowood has grown to be populated by a diverse cast of characters, all of whom fight to make a difference in this world. I can’t wait for you to meet them all.