Welcome to Discarded Lives!

This comic had an extremely odd gestation.  Back in the mists of pre-history (or, in this case, mid-2006,) I found myself in a creative funk.  I’d just finished production on a micro-budget indie vampire drama titled Pray for Daylight, and I’d come to an inescapable conclusion:  I was sick to death of making movies.  The thrill I’d felt moving a camera around actors in mid-2002 had worn to utter dread.  I loved telling stories, but making movies was both emotionally and physically exhausting.  I needed to do something new, and fast.

That’s when I decided to go back to comics.

I had a history writing scripts for small indies, both for a label I helped form and for other companies.  Returning to my roots, I reasoned, would be both satisfying and centering.

I had one problem, though:  I wasn’t an artist.  Oh, I could scratch out decent thumbnails, but actual pencils and — gulp — inks?  No freaking way.  Since one of my conditions was to to work alone again, I found myself in a quandary: How could I make a story that depended on sequential art and not be an artist?

My solution was both goofy and inelegant:  I’d create a machinima comic.  Using titles like Sims2, City of Heroes, and Everquest2, I tried my hand at creating a daily strip.  I’d shoot screenshots of my characters, do a tiny bit of post-processing in Corel Photopaint, layout and letter the panels in Comic Book Creator, and post them on the web.

You know what?  I loved it.

There was one thing, though:  The art really wasn’t mine.   I was grabbing shots online, with a good sense of the story I wanted to tell, but I never had enough control over the images.  While it made for an interesting writing exercise, it didn’t allow me to tell the story I had in mind.

So I decided I had to learn how to make those images for myself.

That was 2007.

Fast forward to 2011.  I’d long since come back from learning to be a 3D modeler and animator at a school in Florida, and had been paid to create images for others.  The comic project had long since been forgotten, until — by chance — I found the old Cranky Gamers strips on an unused hard drive.

Just like that, the bug was back.

I spend the next twenty months playing with different workflow options.  At first, my pride demanded that I create every single asset for the book.  After building my own characters from scratch in LightWave, doing my own rigging, and painstakingly creating locations, though, I realized that I’d probably be dead before I finished one issue.

Then, as if on cue, DAZ Studio 4.0 was offered for free from the DAZ3D website.  I downloaded it, dialed up my first Genesis figure, and just like that I realized that I’d found the missing piece of my workflow.  Within a month I’d knocked together a Lightwave-to-DAZ checklist, created test shots, and locked down my process.

Finally, I could do what I’d wanted to do back in 2006.

That brings us to today.

Discarded Lives is not Cranky Gamers.  It doesn’t follow a daily strip model, and instead hews closer to a standard comic book format.  Expect to see regular “Issue” numbers, as well as clear chapter breaks.   Lastly — and this is probably the most important sentence in this entire rambling message — nothing is as it seems.  Nothing.

I hope you enjoy reading Discarded Lives as much as I enjoy creating it.

See you on the fields of Sondraterra!