Welp! There it is! Chapter One of Dead Beats is over.
What a trip this has been. I first came up with the idea for Dead Beats (originally called "retired") in August of 2015. I had done a lot of work on a web comic and series pitch idea called "Oh Shit, Monsters" that was based on the relationship I had with my cousin Matt, but things went sour between us and working on that comic lost all of its enjoyment. I still wanted to make a paranormal buddy-cop-type story though so I started thinking of other characters and settings I could use. My friend Chris and I always liked to imagine ourselves as Miami Vice-type cops, so I decided to base Walker and Meloy on us, our relationship, and our imagined exploits. The earliest drawing I have is Walker and his roommate, a girl that always wore a cat Kigurumi (full-body PJs) who was based on my friend Natasha. Walker is leaving his apartment to meet up with Meloy and his roommate is asking him to bring her back McDonald's.
I wanted to simplify the style more, to make it something I wouldn't get tired of drawing over and over again if I were to animate it or make storyboards for a pitch, or a comic. I did a second drawing, this time of Walker and Meloy together, and they came out of my head looking almost identical to the way they're drawn now, the only major difference being Meloy used to wear square sunglasses opposite Walker's rounded ones. They were so defined in my head that I did barely any revisions on them, they were ready to go from that drawing on.
From there I started working on a story for a pitch. I wanted there to be mystery, with a twist or two, I wanted it to have peril and actual real danger, but I also wanted it to have humor. I've gushed about Ghostbusters on this site before but horror-comedy is probably my all-time favorite genre and Ghostbusters is my favorite movie, so I wanted to go for that same kind of tone, try to balance some frights with some laughs. When pitching a short to Frederator, which is where I decided to pitch due to the adult content I was planning, they like the stories to be self-contained but easily serialized if they prove to be popular. So I wanted to make a story that could be just a day in the life of these two beat cops working paranormal cases, but leave some hooks in for future stories if it got picked up. I pitched it once, got some notes, reworked it, pitched it again, got more notes, reworked it some more, and then before pitching it a third time Natasha came on to help me try and knock it out of the park. She helped me reboard the whole thing, cut out stuff that wasn't working, put in new gags that helped clarify story aspects, and by the time we were done the storyboard was something like 45+ pages. That was way too much, it needed to be in the 20s to fit in a ~4 minute time slot. Once again she pulled out all the stops, working overnight to slash it down to about 32 pages of character introductions, world building, story, mystery, twists and gags. She did an incredible job making it all fit into a ~4 minute run time. But they still passed.
At that point I felt like any further revisions would begin to compromise the story that I wanted to tell. I also felt immense disappointment that all the hard work Natasha had done to help me had gone to waste. I really loved these characters and I wanted to tell their story even if it wasn't through an animated short so after thinking about it for a while I decided to finally replace Oh Shit, Monsters with Dead Beats as a web comic. I began reworking the script and storyboards from the pitch to fit comic page format and set a deadline of Friday the 13th in May of 2016 as a launch date. I was struggling with heavy depression and almost missed it but again with help and support from Natasha (she colored the first 14 pages) I was able to get everything up and running in time.
Now, six months later, and more than a year after starting out, I finally have the first chapter of Dead Beats complete. Clocking in at 50 pages it comes out to about a double-size issue of a normal comic book, which actually wasn't planned but just happened to work out that way which I think is pretty neat. It's changed quite a bit from its original form but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I was able to take it where I wanted to go without worrying about fitting it under a pre-set time frame or page count, I got to put in a bunch of hooks for future stories that I wouldn't have been able to put in the animated short, and I learned a ton about coloring and other neat Photoshop tricks, again thanks to Natasha (this is actually my first color comic ever so, woo). It feels good to finally have this first chapter done and out of the way now. It's exactly how I wanted to start Walker and Meloy's adventures but after spending more than a year on it I'm ready to finally start telling the rest of their adventures.
Chapter 2 starts this Friday, just in time for Halloween next week! See you then, and thanks for reading!