Comics take forever.
I feel like I’ve aged ten years since the last time I put out a comic that I was truly proud of. It would seem that those are the two constants in my life, recently. Age and comics. Seemingly the older I get the quicker I age. Yes, I realize that I’m still young and virile and have my whole life ahead of me and blah blah blah but, I’m not going to lie. I feel like 9,000 years old.
Man, this is a depressing intro.
Let’s start again. And this time with a thin veneer of jubilation
Hello, dear reader!
You’re about to start reading the first issue-ish of Action Hospital featuring our beloved plant wielding pre-teen Younger The Vine Walker!
Robert’s first sketches of Younger
Action Hospital and Younger have been rolling around in my head for quite some time. I suppose to give you an accurate depiction of where this creative journey has gone and just how long it has taken I should start at the beginning.
Robert’s sketches of Younger’s plant-sister/brother Sibling
The first time the words Action and Hospital entered my head were in my ratty little apartment on Park Ave in San Diego, California. I was listening to an interview with comics writer extraordinaire Matt Fraction when the host asked him a question that sounded like, “Have you ever visited the Action Hospital?” Undoubtedly, the actual question was nothing of the sort but the misheard phrase ‘Action Hospital ‘ stuck in by brain. A few days after this my partner left our humble abode for a weekend trip to see friends. I was left at our house, with a stack of comics and no real responsibilities. So, what did I do? I read comics in my underwear until 2 am.
Robert pretty much nailed the ‘cabbage armor’ on his first try.
At the time I was reading a lot of titles. Probably more than my internet startup writers paycheck could reasonably afford. But, nevertheless, I was reading a bunch of books. As I always do, I saved my favorite book for last. Casanova. If you haven’t read Casanova, do yourself a favor and go buy it. Today. It’s astoundingly good.
Let’s digress for a second. I feel that to properly digest the story which I’m currently in the midst relaying to you it is of paramount importance that you understand my relationship with Casanova. Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon’s Casanova is my all time favorite comic book. But it’s more than that. It’s a strangely lovable recurring character in the painfully banal sitcom that is my life. It’s helped me through extremely trying times. It’s assisted me in more ways than I’d like to admit. The book intersects with my life in very, very strange ways. The first volume served as the background noise to my creative break up. It functioned in the same way a record does when you’re deciding to leave someone. You always think of that person when you hear the record.
That is to say, I used to make comics with someone that I hold very near and dear to my heart. Casanova inspired us to create a five issue mini series about a time traveling spy. Over the course of those five issues my relationship with my collaborator deteriorated into a husk of what it once was. Currently, we are not on speaking terms. This is a fact that I have very mixed feelings about.
Ok, let’s get back on course. I’m sitting on my bed in my 0.5 bedroom apartment and I’m reading Casanova: Aviritia #4. It’s the final issue of the third arc. It’s the book that has been delayed for months. It’s the comic I’ve been dying to read since who knows when. And It’s here. In my hands. I open it up and it’s an injection of pure cocaine straight into my brain meat. I’m on cloud nine for the entire issue. And then I reach the last page. And Casanova Quinn, inter-dimensional superspy, is standing in front of the Hollywood sign.
And it hits me. This is where I have to move. I have to go to Hollywood. I have to escape the bizarre, crack head filled life that I’m living and I have to go to Hollywood. Casanova is starring off the page at me. Practically daring me to do it. To go to Hollywood.
I feel like I’ve been hit by a freight train. I wander around the apartment stunned into silence. After a few minutes of pacing in circles I flip to the end of the issue and start perusing the letters column. There it is. My letter. The letter that I sent to Fraction almost four months previous. I’m in Casanova.
I dropped the book and started writing. I started writing a screenplay called The Action Hospital.
Younger The Vine Walker, ladies and gents.
That was almost an entire year ago. Action Hospital has changed shapes multiple times since then. It started as a screenplay, then morphed into a four issue mini, then was completely retooled and reconstructed into what you see before you. The story of Younger the Vine Walker and her many compatriots in the Action Hospital.
There you have it. That’s how we got here. From San Diego to Hollywood to your computer screen.
Comics, man. They take forever.
At this juncture I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge my collaborator on this project, my co-pilot, and Younger’s co-creator Robert Negrete.
I met Robert at the weekly Drink and Draw at Casey’s Bar and Grill in Downtown Los Angeles. His illustrative capabilities are on display for all to see in this issue. He’s the real reason that this comic was birthed. His skill is on display on every page of this issue.
Robert took my billion little ideas and synthesized them into a real thing. Into a breathing, living thing. He synthesized them into Younger. No one could draw this book but Robert. Look at Younger’s costume design. Even Mark Silvestri with all his assistants would be crazy to design something that intricate.
I’ll never know why or how Robert puts up with my crazy hair brained ideas but he does. And he ushers them into reality with a diligent hand and a critical eye.
Finally, in the tradition of Casanova, let’s talk for a moment about the influences behind Younger and Action Hospital.
The Cosby Show
The Cosby Show is the greatest sitcom of all time. It was not only pan culturally comedic but it was poignant. Yes, it was ground breaking due to its all African American cast but it was also ground breaking in that it treated its characters as real people and not inflatable plot points.
Kamen Rider Amazon
Japan’s long running super hero television show Kamen Rider (Masked Rider) is one of my favorite pieces of pop culture. Especially, Kamen Rider Amazon, in which a child who was raised in the Amazon Jungle travels to Japan in order to protect it from the evil Ten Headed Demon. Yes, the show is as crazy as it sounds.
Growing up I loved Tarzan. Then I hit 15 and discovered that it was a white power allegory and lost my mind. Younger is my vain attempt at spitting on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ grave by subverting the Tarzan archetype by creating a character that is not white, nor male and yet is just as powerful and awesome.
Never in a million years did I expect to love Kirkman and McFarlane’s Haunt half as much as I do. The concept of two people being trapped in one super powered body is delightful.
Extra tidbit: the title to this post is a Depeche Mode reference. Five points to anyone who can figure it out.
Until next time,
Hollywood, Ca 2013