Last week, the last issue of Long Distance came out. It seems like not long ago that I started this particular journey, and it seems like it’s over before it started. I know that’s not so. I started drawing this story on November 15 of last year. But it’s weird to have all the issues done before the first one really hits the stands.
I am humbled by the outpouring of affection and great reviews for this book. I never expected how many people would come up and say “I was in a long distance relationship…” There was an audience for this book that I didn’t know was out there, and I’m glad that I could created something for them.
As it stands, I’m pretty happy with the book. It was a challenge a couple of different ways. Love and Capes was so well received that creating a follow-up project of any kind was daunting. Would people like it? Was Love and Capes a fluke? Looks like the answers were “yes” and “no.”
Also, doing a new project in a different style and without a lot of the Love and Capes structure was scary. Near the end, I was cranking out four pages a day to hit the last deadline. (The third issue, for some reason, just crushed me under its gears, eating up all my slush time.) But I made it, and I think the quality remained consistent.
So thank you, each and every one of you, who read it, supported it, tweeted about it and enjoyed it. You’re the reason I do it.
As is my wont, I thanked a host of people in the last issue. There are two in particular I have to call out:
Lisa Manglass was my technical advisor for Lee’s career. I didn’t actually have to be a rocket scientist to write Lee, thankfully, but Lisa explained a lot about that job to make it as accurate as possible. My initial questions were “what kind of office would Lee be in” “what would she wear” and things like that. Basically, I needed her to have an office where she could talk to her friend a lot. Everything else was details.
Lisa explained the nature of the job and how much of it would be traveling, which fit well with the series. She also exlained how the job essentially goes fellowship to fellowship and they might not all be in the same area. All of which played into the ending in a way I hadn’t imagined when I started.
And Tony Fleecs helped more than just doing an awesome cover. I was talking to him about it when we were sitting next to each other at New York Comic Con. The basic ending was always there, but he challenged me to make it bigger, make it something unique. He forced me to come up with the ending that you all read, which gave me the structure for the whole series.
How much did that ending change the story? The whole flashback structure came about only because of that ending. I’ll be forever grateful for his guidance.
Twelve some years ago I wrote Long Distance to work out some feelings I had and to enter a contest. The original work is way-too autobiographical and the characters aren’t as rich as they should have been. It was definitely a first draft, but there was something there worth pursuing.
Some of the banter and chemistry in it inspired Love and Capes. And telling a superhero comedy, well, that was definitely a comfort zone. When I ran out of dating jokes, I always had superhero jokes. And vice versa. And that four panel format was a comedic metronome to keep me on task.
I don’t ever want to repeat myself too much. So I threw a lot of that away. Gone was the panel format, but that also meant the story wasn’t as kind to be able to show to my trusted readers a page at a time. I had to commit to 44 page chunks to put it in a format people could read and react. That’s a lot to do if something didn’t work on page eight and things needed to be reworked. (Fortunately, they didn’t.)
I also changed up some of my tools. Love and Capes has a tremendous amount of in-jokes and references in the art. Here, I got rid of all that. Computer screens are no longer screen shots of my favorite sites, but are abstract patterns. The Doctor doesn’t appear in the background. A lot of those crutches were gone. I think about Pixar, which did two movies with a faux blooper reel and then never did it again, because they didn’t want to be pigeon-holed.
There are worse things you can do than take guidance from Pixar.
I even essentially got rid of color. I was terrified that the geographic dutotones would come off as a gimmick. Thankfully, they didn’t, and it’s been one of the things people have liked most about the book.I’m so glad that decision worked.
Long Distance is a deeply personal work for me. I’m very much in those pages, and very much not in the places you’d expect. And it’s hard doing a follow up project to something which was so well-received. So thank you for coming along for the ride.
And thank you IDW for taking a risk on a slice-of-life romantic comedy in a market deluged with superheroes and irony and spectacle. They’re good people, every one.
Will there be more Long Distance? Well, if you’ve read the book, there’s a lot of space to explore some new stories. I’m not sure if and when I’m going to go there. I think I want to do something new again, but we’ll see. I never intended to do a second issue of Love and Capes after all.