Now, on page 53, we see the accident that transformed Zarko from a human being into a ghost-like person. Like so many comic book origin stories, it involves an accident in a lab.

Zarko with vial

From the beginning of our work on this comic, we planned on Zarko being a human being who got magically transformed, but up until a few months ago, the circumstances of the transformation were completely different.

I thought I knew how this story was going to play out, based on earlier conversations with Abby. When I asked her questions, though, I discovered that she had forgotten or gotten bored by her original idea. Abby is not a boring old person like me, who is content to settle on an idea, then polish it, and build on it over the course of months. Abby is interested in having a cool idea RIGHT NOW. Even if you had made plans based on the old idea.

This is the challenge, and reward, and still also challenge, of collaborating with a seven-year-old.

Abby told me that she wanted Zarko to be the teacher at a magic school, and one of the students would spill a potion on him, and that would cause his transformation. At first I resisted this change to our plan . . . but, over time, I came around. The old idea was actually kind of boring, by comparison. When I told Sam Albert about the new origin story, she came up with a great twist to it, that I can’t point out right now because of spoilers, but I liked this twist a lot, and so did Abby.

Abby  sketched out Bel and her device, I wrote the script, and Sam brought Professor Zarko and his class to life. The end result is the product of all of our contributions, but something none of us would have come up with on our own.