It took forever to complete Ninja Guy 2 for 2 reasons. #1: My beautiful baby girl was born last October. Cue sleepless nights where every free moment to draw was quickly replaced with a desire for a quick nap. #2: Plot. I had to write a plot. Plots aren’t funny, and Ninja Guy has to be funny.
I’ll speak a little about story writing. The first issue of
anything is fueled by intense inspiration. Worrying about where the story is going or if it will make sense comes secondary to joke telling. That’s how it was for the first 20 pages of Ninja Guy published as issue 1, “New Felt Friendships.” When I sat down to write that comic, I didn’t. I drew the final drawings without a reference notebook or any pre-story boarding to back me up.
Ninja Guy 2, “Welcome to Cincinnati” was just the opposite. I wrote the plot. Then I outlined the plot. Then I story boarded the plot. Then I re-story boarded the plot with sticky notes. 55 pages of story boarding to be exact, some of it I edited out, and some of it I left for the next issue.
But focusing on research and plot does not make for funny anything. Plus being sleep deprived makes your characters just say a bunch of cranky things. I ran myself into plot quick sand over and over again, and the book was going to be very dry if I didn’t do something. So I decided that I would give up on trying to finish the book in any hurry. I would work on it as inspiration came. So the jokes slowly surfaced in my brain as the months rolled by.
The idea of where the story I’m telling would eventually end up came as I was finishing up the first issue, so I have had a basic idea of where I want the thing to go for awhile. And with the start of issue 2, I knew I was introducing one new character, Sky Alina. In fact, she was the first character I drew in my story boarding that I did. What I didn’t know was that I would also be introducing a second female character until I was well into drawing the final draft. In fact, the waiter scene was just meant to add some humor to what I felt was becoming a boring “recap” of the story so far. I found myself re-inventing a character I had initially drawn for Kelly Sue DeConnick’s unfinished “Ninja Princess Zombie Rockstar” crowd sourced comic (finish it someday, please Kelly?). As a result, I had to re-draw my final draft panels a couple of times as I quickly developed, scrapped, then re-developed the character’s clothing and hair style. The character is as of yet unnamed. I’ll just be referring to her as “The Girl with the Never Ending Pony Tail.”
For Sky Alina, I used my wife as a reference and inspiration (and why wouldn’t I? She’s a beautiful lady!). I also looked up black female hair styles and cocktail dresses from the 1920’s since I wanted a night club scene with her as the focus. The hair developed into a simpler style to go with the style of the comic.
A third character, Black Star, was developed for this issue, but I got to page 24 before getting a chance to introduce him. And I decided to stop the book at a breaking point, so he’ll be introduced in issue 3. However, he is briefly mentioned on page 19.
My friend and co-creator of earlier renditions of Ninja Guy, Keith Douchant, has two boys that have been hugely encouraging to me to continue working on issue 2. In fact, I probably only continued to work on it because I didn’t want to leave them hanging. They even drew me some comics of how they thought the comic was going to turn out! I dedicated the second issue to them. When I asked them what I should draw for the front cover, they mentioned something about drawing Ninja Guy surfing. Since the cover of the first comic had nothing to do with the story at all, I thought that was a funny idea to continue drawing covers that have nothing to do with the story. But I ended up changing “surfing” to “water skiing” because water skiing isn’t as cool. I really am grateful for their encouragement and brain storming to help me get through this second issue.
Anyway, if you’re actually reading this, you probably already got the comic, but if not, I’m selling it through Paypal, or you can contact me directly to trade your own self-published work for it. Just drop me a line. Oh, one more thing: Here’s a Spotify playlist of songs I listened to while working on Ninja Guy: