Well, since I’m making a lot of “Damania” comics at the moment, I thought that I’d write a “making of” article about how I came up with the idea for this series of comics.
Interestingly, “Damania” kind of evolved over about two years and it ended up being very different to what I originally expected back in 2011. Anyway, the first “Damania”-related drawing I did was on the 10th March 2011 and it was a drawing called “The Magician’s Room”.
At the time, I was watching a lot of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” DVDs and absolutely loved the idea of writing a ‘modern’ fantasy/horror story of some kind or other. In fact, the idea of creating my own version of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” seemed like an absolutely brilliant one. Yes, in it’s very original incarnation, “Damania” would have basically just have been a rip-off of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and Roz would have been a lot more like Buffy in terms of her personality etc…
The other major initial influence on this idea for a comic was probably Mike Carey’s excellent “Felix Castor” novels.
Thankfully, my idea for a comic went in a much more original direction – but more on that later…
Anyway, I was quite impressed by “The Magician’s Room” and I really liked the characters in it, even though I didn’t know their names at the time. In fact, I liked this drawing so much, that I thought about turning it into a comic of some kind. Now, since I had a lot less comic writing experience than I do now, I thought it best to test this idea out by drawing some short “concept art” comics. These weren’t really intended to be comedic, but they were intended to represent possible scenes from the comic I was planning. You may recognise the format of some of these “concept art” drawings. More on this later…
Interestingly, it was in one of these “concept art” drawings that I finally found a name for my comics project. It all came from a random meeting with a guy (who had blue hair) in a pub in late 2006.
After a very random conversation about body piercings, he basically told me this funny story about this time that he was smoking a “legal high” (I don’t know if it’s still legal… apparently it isn’t any more) herbal substance called “damania” which is apparently quite similar to marijuana.
I was slightly curious about this and searched all of the more ‘alternative’ shops in the town I was living in at the time – but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Even so, it stuck in my imagination as being something slightly decadent and alternative and mysterious. So, naturally, it appeared in one of my concept art drawings….
The interesting thing was that I later learnt that I’d misspelt the name of this particular substance and that it was actually called “Damiana“. But, by then, I kind of preferred my original spelling and well…. it just sounded a lot better too. Anyway, now that I had a title for my comic, I drew some more “concept art” and then decided to take the plunge and turn it into an actual comic. A proper A4-size narrative comic…..
In the end, I drew about one and a half front cover designs before I abandoned the idea. I’m not exactly sure why this happened, but it did. I either lost interest in it or just didn’t feel quite ready to draw a proper comic back then. For quite a while, I thought that I’d lost these two drawings, but I found them again last October – so here they are:
Another one of my failed comic ideas. And that’s where it probably would have ended…….
…. Except it didn’t. In fact, by late November 2011 I’d pretty much abandoned drawing comics and uploading my art onto the internet altogether. On April 17th 2012, I got back into drawing again and set myself a schedule of uploading at least one small drawing to my DeviantART gallery per day. Anyway, one day last June, I had artist’s block, so I decided to draw a random picture of the main character from my old, failed comics idea….
Ten days later, I did another drawing featuring the same character….
In fact, the next day, I did another “concept art” drawing out of nostalgia. And then another. I also worked out that the goth guy in my comic was called “Derek” too.
Then I abandoned the idea again and this whole cycle started again in August. This time round, I actually started using ‘Damania’ as a title for my short comics. It was about then that I realised that the idea could work as a ‘newspaper style’ webcomic. Although it was still only something I drew very occasionally until late September/early October 2012 when it became my “regular” comic for a few weeks.
By then, I’d also discovered old 1950s American horror comics (like the ones on this excellent blog) and they ended up being a major influence on some of my earlier “Damania” comics. But it still felt like it was missing something – I soon realised that I had to add a new character. So, after a lot of thought, I came up with Harvey Delford, paranormal detective.
Originally, he was going to be more of a “John Constantine”-style hardboiled modern detective, but I suddenly realised that it’d be a lot funnier if he was also a slightly more old-fashioned and more conservative private detective and his character gradually went more and more in this direction. This caused a few narrative issues originally, since Roz was originally intended to be the ‘serious’ character in the comic – however, after a while, she gradually became more an anarchic character.
In addition to this, I experimented with a few short plot arcs too (Harvey’s secret double life as a folk dancer, the lives of the main characters in a parallel universe [where they all work in a supermarket], Roz’s journey to the distant future and Harvey’s history with his rival, Penkerton…) but, on the whole, I kept to the format of a self-contained “newspaper comic” style webcomic.
Anyway, after about a month or so, I’d run out of ideas and enthusiasm for “Damania” and I moved on to making “CRIT” comics and drawing concept art for them.
But in early-mid December 2012, I felt like starting another project. After having a random daydream, I wanted to write a punk romance comic of some kind and ended up drawing some concept art for it…..
It took me a while to realise it, but the character on the right looked a lot like Derek from “Damania” and then it suddenly occurred to me that drawing a “Damania” spin-off/prequel comic would be a good idea and I started drawing “Anachrony” a couple of days later. Incidentally, I also drew a “Damania” comic to introduce my new character too….
Originally, this was going to be Rox’s only appearence in “Damania”, but she gradually became a semi-regular character before eventually becoming a more regular character.
….And that’s the (rather condensed) story of how “Damania” ended up being the comic it is today.
These days, “Damania” tends to be a comic which I work on between other comics projects, but it’s of my favourite comics and possibly even the longest comic I’ve ever made (“Somnium” has 175 pages, but I think that “Damania” possibly has more, I’m not entirely certain….).