Since we started work on The Electric Team I’ve always wanted to do solo character adventures. And somewhere along the line I got interested in the idea of making these solo stories super-compressed.

See, the thing about American comic books is, there’s this trend called “decompression,” where writers take their time and let stories slowly develop over the course of months and years. Instead of telling a complete story in one issue of a comic book, the goal now is often to tell a complete piece of story in a six-issue story arc which can then be collected in a trade paperback.

I already had issues with decompression, which only increased when I started reading stories from 2000 AD, the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic. Thanks largely to my friend Matt, who gave me stacks and stacks of 2000 AD reprints, I read hundreds of pages of Judge Dredd, ABC Warriors, Nemesis the Warlock, and more. They’re great comics, for lots of reasons, but the thing that’s relevant here is that the average 2000 AD story is 8 pages long. Eight pages! In those 8 pages, the creators (usually) provide a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. And thrills; plenty of thrills.

I became obsessed with the idea of writing a satisfying 8 page comic. Could I possibly put Mr. Amazing into a new setting, introduce new characters and a conflict, and provide a satisfying resolution, all in 8 pages? The answer is no, I could not. I plotted it out, and I came close, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut the climactic final battle short. I ended up writing a script for a 12 page story (not counting the title page).

That’s still half the length of a regular Electric Team chapter, though, so I had to plan carefully to get everything in there. You can’t waste a lot of time when you only have 12 pages.

In particular the third page, where Mr. Amazing comes into the village and talks to the lore-keeper, was a challenge. I wanted to put in a lot of background information, but I was certain I had written too much dialogue to fit on one page. I kept asking Josh, “What do I need to cut?” He assured me he would get it all in there and, what do you know, he absolutely made it work. Everything flows nicely, and doesn’t feel cramped at all. He even opens the page up with a nice wide panel.


I guess what I’m trying to say is that writing short self-contained comic stories is hard, but it’s a lot easier when your collaborator does the hard work.