For the past half-decade or so, I tried to avoid making up stories. I omitted them from my creative work and even tried to weed them out of my everyday life.
For example, during museum visits, I avoided reading the descriptions next to the works because I wanted to experience the art without someone else’s stories getting in the way.
Most importantly, I tried to squash the stories I told myself. If I imagined an event would be unpleasant or difficult before it happened, that story would warp my experience. My personal stories used to be daily obstructions, so I tried to neutralize them and just let time unfold.
It took a lot for someone else’s stories to impress me, so neutralizing most of the fiction I read and movies I watched was pretty easy. If they didn’t convince me, what harm (or good) were they? Stories became just filler between me and the genuine experience of living.
But when I read piles of comics during the pandemic, many of those stories made me curious about storytelling again. I especially wondered why I reread compelling stories, even when I thought their known endings could not dazzle, surprise, or shock me again (it turns they could).
So I started reading books about storytelling, including enlightening ones by Lisa Cron, John Truby, and Robert McKee. After those (and a bunch of walking and thinking) I came to believe that humans use stories to explain the complexities of existence to ourselves. When I knew that, I realized: trying to avoid telling a story was a particular kind of story, too.
I traded detachment for action, looking in earnest at the kinds of stories that did explain the world to me. I returned to stories I’d always loved and discovered wonderful new ones. But especially in comics, no story I know explains things quite as I understand them — no story is the story I’d like to read.
Which is why I decided to make EXIT CITY. I knew it was going to be difficult, and it has been! I haven’t written stories for many years, and while drawing comics is challenging, puzzling out this story has been burning most of my brain power. Burning it sloooowly…🦥
I knew my December 26 launch was an ambitious launch target when I set it, but I’m glad I did. It pushed me to come up with visual ideas, intriguing characters, and narrative ideas which I want to read — Ones worth your time and attention. But as of today, the story is still too undercooked, and I love this story too much to start delivering a mediocre explanation of the world.
I’m pushing the EXIT CITY launch date to January 26, 2023. If you’ve been following this project, I thank you for keeping your eyes on it, and I’ll continue to post more progress reports in the coming month. If you just found your way here and like what you see, click on the blue SUBSCRIBE button to get updates and new comics in your email inbox.
Then on January 26th, the EXIT CITY Prelude begins the same way many stories begin in these digital days: with a persistent red dot…