Written by Bianca Alu-Marr and drawn by Steve Peters, The Comicverse is a sci-fi romantic comedy about a comic book shop on a space station. It is run by a young man named Rei and a teenage dragon called Ying, whom Rei rescued from an asteroid and has no memory of his past. They both have a crush on Aki, a pilot who sometimes visits the shop. In our previous issue, Rei went on a date with Aki behind Ying’s back, but Ying eventually found out and was heartbroken.
Our latest installment, The Comicverse #4, is our most ambitious so far. It features a story called “Cargo Hold“, which is 64 pages long, by far the longest piece we have written for the series. In it, the space station is attacked and destroyed by marauding aliens! The residents of the station manage to get out in escape pods and find themselves adrift in space.
Eventually, they are picked up in a military peacekeeping ship and placed in their cargo hold, hence the title of the story. Ying and the others make the best of a scary situation, trying to bring comfort and lightheartedness to the other refugees.
The main idea for the plot was suggested by Steve; it was inspired by issue #51 of the legendary independent comic Cerebus, and its story which was called “Exodus“. By the time Dave Sim published that issue, he had been saying for quite a while that some of the characters in Cerebus were so easy to write for that he could throw them in a closet and the story would “write itself”. When he finally drew that issue, he put the characters together in the cargo hold of a trading ship.
The Comicverse #4 is a tour de force because Steve’s idea was not just to throw a few characters together in a tight space, but ALL of the characters from the space station who have appeared in the series so far, and see how they bounce off of and react to each other.
Bianca says: “This gave me so much creative freedom as a writer, and the story flowed and transformed on its own, within the framework of Steve’s plot ideas. My writing tends to have no boundaries, and the creativity is flowing everywhere. On my own, I don’t always end up finishing my stories because of this. However, with Steve’s clear vision and ability to help me with endings, we make a great team. “Cargo Hold” is one of the best examples of that dynamic.
“I love to see how all of the main and secondary characters are growing and becoming more layered and complex as time goes on. It’s their personalities that inform what they say and do, which allows me to help them sound natural and dynamic! I was also so excited to have them in a huge ship flying around in true sci-fi-style peril. It is our longest story to date, and I’m so happy to have this be our fourth issue!”
This time around, we’re asking for a small amount, just enough to cover our printing bill, which will be higher than usual due to the high page count. Don’t give up on us if the goal has been reached, though, as we’ll be adding some stretch goals to cover supplies and other things we need!
Risks and challenges
Steve has been working a day job for 25 years and has used that income to finance his comic book projects with the ultimate goal of making a living from his art. Though he has enjoyed some small successes and has had several comics distributed through Diamond Comics, that ultimate success has proven elusive. In 2011, the company for which he works his day job filed for bankruptcy. It was eventually sold and remains in business, but is in bad shape. It has been very stingy with the hours it gives its workers, and Steve is barely making enough money to scrape by. He is supplementing his income by selling things on eBay and taking commissions when he can get them, but these things take time away from The Comicverse. He may eventually be forced to take a second job, which would slow or even halt his comics production.
Steve and Bianca love the Comicverse project with all their hearts and are putting all our resources and all their free time into it. Their ultimate goal is to eventually take it to a mainstream audience and have it widely distributed through Diamond Comics, either through a publisher or by self-publishing it. Kickstarter has been a vital aid in helping us accomplish this. We would not have been able to have come as far as we have without our backers, and your ongoing support is needed and much appreciated, and needed more now than ever.