The End

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So The Endling has reached its ending. Naturally, I couldn’t resist ending on two more cliffhangers. Nature of the beast, I suppose. Can’t honestly say I’m sorry.

At the risk of having the MPAA orchestra play me off, I want to thank Cecilia Latella for knocking out gorgeous, human, exciting, expressive artwork week after week after week. Not to mention serving as de facto editor and compiler of our amazing collected issues (which you can and should check out at the Thrillbent store). You should keep an eye on whatever she does next, because it’s going to have a hell of a lot of heart. Paul Mounts helped kick off the series with his colors for the first four issues and for that I’ll always be grateful. Jenn Manley Lee somehow pulled off both a smooth transition from Paul’s style and a quick, distinctive, glorious style of her own. Months later, some of her and Cecilia’s most striking work remains vivid in my mind. If you can’t recall any panels, go back and read the thing again—you were going too fast the first time! Troy Peteri lettered the entire series—on one end putting up with my nitpickery and on the other going above and beyond with thoughtful, exciting, dynamic sound-art that made panels and sequences work that had no business working when the script left my computer. Great work by great folks.

Mark Waid and John Rogers made it all possible—not only helping to find much of the creative team but also cheerleading all the way. Praise from those guys? If you’re reading this, I know you can imagine what a big deal that is. And unsung Thrillbent reality-maker Lori Matsumoto never faltered no matter how kvetchy or grumpy I got.

When I started this, I had done two Batman stories for DC. I googled constantly for feedback after they came out. With The Endling, I was gratified that you guys shared your thoughts with us in Thrillbent’s comments section, on our Facebook page, and on Twitter. We even got to meet honest-to-goodness, real-life  Endling fans when James Tynion IV graciously let us squat at his NYCC table last year. Dave, Brad, Darryl, PipedreamComics.uk, and many other folks let us know week after week that we were blowing their minds and that’s what got us through all the technical and production hassles that are part and parcel of any endeavor like this.

So…what was The Endling all about? I didn’t want to say anything before, but as you’ve probably figured out by now, it’s basically an origin story. It’s the story of how Amber Black and The Endling form an uneasy partnership to save humanity from humanity’s future. It’s a story about how people behave when the stakes are the highest possible—and the ways evolution does and doesn’t serve us in those circumstances. I became much more attached to these guys than I expected and killing some of them off gutted me much less than leaving them all behind does now.

What’s next? Beats me. As far as I’m concerned, I hope to write more comics. I have ideas for other series—so if you’re an artist who wants to collaborate on something, hit me up. And The Endling? Right now, this is it for him and Amber and their world(s). I’d love to write the story of their race to stop the Primogenitor some day. But that’s not going to happen unless more people get exposed to this story and there’s a demonstrated demand for new ones. So if you want more Endling, his future—like the world’s—is in your hands.

Thanks again to Cecilia and the Endling crew and Mark and the Thrillbent crew for making a lifelong comics fan’s dream come true. The only thing better than the time I had creating this story has been seeing the enjoyment our readers have gotten it. Thanks for sharing that with us.

PS: It’d be great if everyone could pitch in and save the real world, too. Climate change is real. Please vote and act accordingly.

Jun 12, 2014 In: Comics, Site News, Thrillbent News

New York Comic Con!

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A bunch of us Thrillbent creators are coming to New York Comic Con and we want to meet as many of our readers as we can. Some of us will be floating, untethered, throughout the con. But James Tynion IV and I thought it would be cool to set up a specific time and place for anyone who needs that extra dash of certainty in their lives, so James graciously agreed to let us plan a meet-up at his table (G4) on Saturday from 2pm – 3pm.

Right now, we’ve got James (who does The Eighth Seal for Thrillbent; not to mention Talon, Red Hood & The Outlaws and Batman for DC), Cecilia Latella (creator of the graphic novel The Boar, who now draws The Endling for Thrillbent and is coming to NYCC all the way from ITALY!) and myself, Cecilia’s partner on The Endling (and writer of a couple Legends of the Dark Knight stories for DC). Geoffo and Mast are working on joining us and we’re hoping to rope in Ron Randall, too. So everyone go bug those guys to make it to the meetup.

If you’re reading Thrillbent, please swing by–we don’t get many chances to meet you guys and I promise, whatever questions you have for us, we probably have three more for you.

James, of course, will be trapped there for many additional hours, so if you get there early enough you might even snag one of the few prints he’s selling from his amazing series. But not if I get there first. I can’t promise anything for James, but I might be open to dishing out some Endling spoilers. And if anyone cosplays as Amber or The Endling, you’ll get a round of drinks on me just for starters.

See you Saturday at the con!

Oct 08, 2013 In: Comics

Meta-Cliffhangers

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I like cliffhangers. The more agonizing a good cliffhanger is, the more satisfying a good payoff is.

I always used to describe one of my favorite TV shows, The Shield, by saying that its cliffhanger payoffs worked so well because they were both utterly unexpected and — in hindsight, anyway—the most logical thing possible. They took your breath away.

Insert your own favorite show — Breaking Bad comes to mind — and you know what I mean.

I like creating cliffhangers, too. As a TV news producer working most recently in panel conversations, I loved when we crafted a moment in which the stakes reached a true, emotional peak… and then we broke for commercial. (I admit it, I have a sadistic streak.)

What I’m NOT crazy about are meta-cliffhangers. Like the end of this week’s installment of my series The Endling. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty classic cliffhanger. I stand behind its cliffhangerosity. But it’s also a meta-cliffhanger — specifically, it raises a question about the future of the Endling series. Because we’re taking…a break.

DUNT-DUNT-DUN!!!

That’s right, at the pinnacle of suspense in this week’s issue, you’re going to swipe to the next screen and discover a slate announcing that the next installment will appear on Thursday… January 30, 2014. Creating the meta-cliffhanger question of whether we’re REALLY coming back or just stalling for time publicly while behind the scenes we wither and die and play videogames.

***SPOILER ALERT***

The Endling will return on Thursday, January 30. Here’s what happened:

I don’t know what I’m doing.

Now, I’m sure anyone who hasn’t enjoyed The Endling so far will agree readily with that sentiment, but I’m referring in this case to my initial misunderstanding of the digital “swipe” formatting Mark Waid is pioneering here at Thrillbent. When I started writing The Endling, I was thinking of each swipe of the screen as a one- or two-click change for the artistic team.

I was wrong, but I didn’t realize that until the drawing started, which wasn’t until I had pretty much finished writing it. So, what were meant to be ten-“page” issues instead started off as follows:

Week 1: 28 screens
Week 2: 22 screens
Week 3: 25 screens
Week 4: 18 screens
Week 5: 50 screens
Week 6: 20 screens
Week 7: 20 screens
Week 8: 19 screens
Week 9: 19 screens
Week 10: 31 screens

Keep in mind that two screens equal one comic-book page. So, producing ten screens a week is the equivalent of drawing one comic-book page a day. And Cecilia Latella, our artist, is both penciling AND inking.

We started with a little bit of a buffer, but my overloaded scripts quickly used it up and we’re now at a point where we simply won’t be able to continue on a weekly basis any more. Until January 30. At that point, knowing what we do now about how long it takes to illustrate MY OVERWRITTEN SCRIPTS, we will be able to resume a weekly pace for the remainder of the series.

We’re not missing one beat when it comes to working on bringing you this story. The entire series script is written. Cecilia’s finishing inking Chapter 21… the payoff to that cliffhanger in the last panel of 20.

We have much bigger cliffhangers in store after that, so please hang in there with us. If you’ve enjoyed where we’ve been so far, you’re going to love where we’re going. How can I be sure? Mark Waid is the only person besides me and Cecilia who’s read the script to the end. Here’s what he wrote to me afterward:

“Finished Endling again from start to finish and it’s just about the most damn compelling thing I’ve read in forever.”

I hope that sounds worth sticking around for — it certainly made ME happy when he said it. And in the meantime, tweet your complaints to me @JTLarsen; check out the extras in our collected editions at the Thrillbent store; sign up for emails from Thrillbent and Like The Endling’s Facebook page so we can remind you when it’s time for us to return, you can tell us what you think of the story so far and share your theories about what’s going to happen next.

The only thing I can promise WON’T happen is… no more meta-cliffhangers!

Sep 25, 2013 In: Comics