NETWORKED: No Escape from Comics
The Gerry half of Markgerry writing this time…
They say once you get comics in your blood you can never get them out. I wrote a lot of comics from the late ‘80s well into the ‘90s, then started shifting toward nonfiction books and screenplays. After the Pokemon newspaper strip in 2000 I stopped writing comics entirely. But ten years later, here I am again.
In my case, what pulled me back was a bit more substantial than just something in my blood. The mistake I made when I left comics was not severing all my social ties with them. I kept talking to Mark Badger, one of my favorite collaborators from my DC days, thinking it was safe to talk about innocuous subjects like kids and politics and our respective careers.
Mark was mostly teaching and coding then, but he fiddled with comics occasionally, some for small publishers and some for political groups. For a couple of years I was writing a book about comics called Men of Tomorrow, so of course we talked about the old medium. We’d even say occasionally it would be fun to play with some of our old ideas, like that Haunted Man thing we did for Dark Horse, although that usually felt like just one of those nostalgic things old friends say.
Then Mark started doing work for a nonprofit group called Privacy Activism. First they hired him to do the art on an interactive game on their website, and after he impressed them with that they started talking about a web comic to encourage high school kids to start thinking about issues like online privacy in their own lives. But Mark didn’t feel like writing it himself, so he asked me if I’d like to play. The work would be light, he said. Just an ongoing comic strip, nothing ambitious.
But as soon as I started thinking in panels and balloons, the old fever kicked in. The story got longer, the characters got more interesting. “Hey, we could turn this into a graphic novel,” we said. And suddenly there’s no staying out anymore.