I’ve always liked “making of” features on DVDs, they’re essential to any artist or writer or film-maker. Or maybe they’re essential for any artist, writer or film-maker? Or maybe both? Anyway, earlier today, it seemed like a cool idea to write an article about how my “CRIT” comic and fiction series came into being. Every creative project starts out differently and has it’s own story behind it and I thought that it may be interesting to show “the story behind the story”, so to speak….
It all started one night in late November 2012 with a drawing called “Overpass”. I’d been watching the music video for “This Corrosion” by The Sisters of Mercy on Youtube and I really loved this atmosphere of this video. In fact, it kind of put me into a 1980s kind of mood and it made me think of “Blade Runner” too – so I decided to draw something which captured this exact feeling and ended up with a drawing called “Overpass”.
Later on that night, I started daydreaming about a TV series I’d love to make if I could. My original idea for it was: ” ‘Blade Runner’ + ‘NCIS’ + Goths = Win! “, to quote my notes at the time.
I spent a while daydreaming about it and even I made a few notes at the time about what would be the perfect opening scene for this TV show:
“We start with a panorama of a grimy industrial futuristic city. The buildings are complex. The sky is orange. There is dreamy synthesiser music in the background. As the camera pans across, it finally rests on a handsome man with blond/brown hair and a blue jacket leaning on some railings on the top of a building and looking dreamily into the distance. Slowly, the camera moves closer to his face, he is clearly thinking of something. When it [the camera] gets to a close-up, it lingers there. The music does not change.”
“After about ten seconds, it begins to zoom out/move away. As it does, a red spot suddenly appears in the centre of the man’s forehead and a slow motion crimson starburst of blood explodes from the back of his head. The music does not change. He begins to fall, muffled screams can be heard in the distance as the screen fades to black and the opening credits roll”
At the time, I thought it would probably fall into the category of “good ideas I’ll never follow up on”. A while later that night, I did another 1980s-style cyberpunk drawing called “System Core” which would feature a character who would later become Darius:
The thing was, I just couldn’t get this idea for a TV series out of my mind and, the next night, I drew a storyboard illustration of the opening scene I’d described in my notes (although it isn’t particularly gruesome and is in black and white too, I decided to label it as “mature content” on DA since it’s basically a comic about someone being shot in the head).
Later that night, I did another drawing based on the same idea called “A Heartless Crime” – it was kind of different to my original idea for the TV series and it kind of looked more like a scene from a more conventional cyberpunk comic/TV show/videogame than the gothic kind of TV show I’d originally envisaged. I decided to include the character from “Overpass” (who would later become Suzy) as well as a random goth guy (who would later become Jake). The thing was, this drawing seemed to have more of a story behind it than most of my drawings do and it seemed intriguing enough to make me want to draw more things related to this idea.
The fact was, like with any good idea, I only had the vaguest and haziest idea about it when I started. This may not be the case with every writer or artist, but for me, finding a good creative idea can be like playing a 1990s stragegy game. When you start out, you can see a small part of the entire map, but most of it is covered by fog or darkness and the map only reveals itself gradually when you explore more and more of it.
I had a general sense of some things, like what the world of this TV series would look like and what the main characters looked like, but I had no clue what their names were, what the backstory behind the series was or what it would even be called. But, driven by curiosity, I spent the next couple of weeks drawing lots of “concept art” (this was also kind of how “Damania” got started in spring 2011 and summer/autumn 2012 too) which kind of helped me to look at possible storylines for “episodes” of the show as well as work out what the ‘world’ of this untitled series would look like. I was fascinated. I could even vaguely imagine what the DVD boxset for the first series would look like.
Somewhere along the way, I also decided to incorporate the two mega-corporations (Dextek and SYL-Corp) from an unpublished novella called “Ephemera” that I’d written in 2010 and then I decided to add a third mega-corporation which the main characters would work for. I eventually decided to call this corporation “Makerton – Riyadi” and it was kind of inspired by the “Weyland – Yutani Corporation” from The “Aliens” movies.
If anyone is interested, all of my concept art can be found here – although it may contain spoilers for possible future “CRIT” storylines (you can see the beginnings of episodes 1,2,3 & 6 in this gallery). The only new addition to this gallery since I started making the comic is a short animation showing some of the backstory to the series.
However, I started to get quite frustrated about the fact that I didn’t really have the knowledge or money to make a TV series and, by the time that the gold pencil I’d been using to colour in a lot of the backgrounds was only about an inch long, I felt completely worn out. I wanted to draw other things. So, I abandoned the idea and consigned it to the category of ‘great ideas which will never get made’ .
Then I got back into drawing comics again.
It started with “Damania” and then “Anachrony” and by about mid-December 2012, I thought that I’d have time to make another comic before Christmas. Of course, my untitled sci-fi series idea came into my mind and I looked at my concept art again and facepalmed a couple of times. It had been a comic all along!
But, I still couldn’t think of a title for it. Eventually, distraught, I decided to distract myself with sarcastic reviews of old videogames on Youtube. Anyway, when I was watching a review of “Dino Crisis 2” (which I’d played in early-mid 2010), the reviewer made a sarcastic comment about the special forces unit which one of the main characters belonged to (called “T.R.A.T” ). For some reason, this name stuck in my mind and it wasn’t long before my mind had come up with something which sounded similar to it.
And, after that, the rest is history….