As a mentioned last week on this blog, after a five month unplanned hiatus, I need to reevaluate how I can "sustain momentum" as a comic book writer (i.e. no more nervous breakdowns and still keep writing). Find balance in my life, family, teaching, and comics. Thus, I need to prioritize, focus, and cut down my work load. No more working on seven projects at a time. I'm going for a leaner, smarter David Hopkins as writer. The plan. I've divided my writing work into five categories:

1. Completed projects: stuff I've already written (and maybe it's completely art'd), and it just needs to be published 2. Ongoing projects: stuff I'm currently writing and/or it's in the process of being published 3. New projects: stuff I haven't written yet, but I'm planning to work on 4. Abandoned projects: the graveyard of rejected proposals and unfinished projects 5. Loose ends: small bits of writing I've promised to people

As far as completed projects, I need to renew my efforts to find a home for ASTRONAUT DAD and HOW TO LOSE BIG. In regards to ASTRONAUT DAD, it's frustrating for a beautiful 160 page graphic novel to be completely finished and yet unread. Also, HOW TO LOSE BIG is such a great story. The proposal looks great. We just need to find it a home.

With ongoing projects, I'm focusing all my energy on WE'VE NEVER MET, which resides on the back inside page of the free weekly entertainment newspaper Quick. On a professional and creative level, it's everything I could ever hope for. It's consistent, paying work where I get to develop a continuity and collaborate with a talented artist. We have a massive local readership (Quick reaches more than 90,000 per week), and the potential for a huge fanbase. Story wise, I love the slice-of-life feel of WE'VE NEVER MET. It's a story about a person's life, an adventure in searching for meaningful relationships and pursuing artistic goals. It doesn't have to be a "gag comic" nor does it need super heroes, monsters, robots, zombies, pirates, or ninjas. Although, it does have one hobo.

ANNOUNCEMENT #1: As of this month, WE'VE NEVER MET is now weekly. It's no longer on an every other week cycle. This will give us a much better opportunity to build our audience. That's 52 pages every year. Unfortunately, it does end the regular appearance of LISTOONS (click here), created by my friends Geoff and Cal, with whom we alternated on that back page. LISTOONS isn't gone. There should be periodic appearances elsewhere in the pages of Quick.

In the next few weeks, Liz (our protagonist) will be in the studio recording an EP. We will introduce a new character, Lindsay Graham from Junius Recording Co. Liz's last name will finally be revealed, as well as the band's name. Exclusive preview: The band name is Inklings.

ANNOUNCEMENT #2: Speaking of Inklings, music producer Lindsay Graham and I are entering the bold terrain of fictitious bands -- Gorillaz, Josie & the Pussycats, Partridge Family, Monkees, The Oneders, etc. We're still in the early stages of everything, but you can expect to actually hear Liz's band. You'll be able to buy the album, proudly wear an Inklings t-shirt, request them on KXT, or vote for them in the Observer Music Awards. Who knows where it will all lead? I'm proud to be working with Lindsay, and I can already tell this is going to be an exciting experiment.

Inklings are my new favorite band.

But first, Liz has to write some more songs (below: a preview of the October 14th comic).

My other goal in the "ongoing projects" category, unrelated to WE'VE NEVER MET, is to try to write at least two features for D Magazine every year. And guess what?

ANNOUNCEMENT #3: I just signed a contract for my first magazine feature (2,000 words). I don't want to go into any further details. Let's wait until the story is sent to my editor, and then off to the printers.

With new projects (and this is a difficult issue), I'm going to work on only one new graphic novel proposal at a time. Jamar Nicholas and I have our BULLETPROOF WEST project. That's the one. Nothing else until that's complete. I know I've mentioned this idea before, but it's new because all we have is a plot outline and some characters. I'll have more details soon.

With abandoned projects, unfortunately, there are too many to name: FRONTIER, BOLIVAR, OMISOKA BRIDGE, JACK RUBY, KARMA INC 2. Better not to think about it.

With loose ends, Paul and I are working on the finale for SOUVENIR OF DALLAS to appear on D Magazine's Frontburner blog. Also, Brock and I have a short Emily Edison side project that I need to script this week.

And that's the update. Sound good? Let me know your thoughts.


You know you want to read this comic. To be featured in HOW TO LOSE BIG...

Logo by Paul Milligan. We're currently searching for an artist. Just emailed somebody awesome (if you're reading this... hi!), hopefully, we'll have some good news to share soon.

PANEL 1. On Princess Bella. She’s wearing a beautiful puffy dress with lace and beads, etc. The dress is torn and dirty. Bella’s beautiful done-up hair is falling in places. She has bruises and dirt on her face. She’s running, looking behind her. There are squirrels, other woodland animals running with her. All scared. Cute little birdies fly behind her, away from whatever terrible menace is after them.

They are in a boarded up and abandoned castle.

PANEL 2. Close on Bella. She looks terrified.

PANEL 3. Bella stops near a hanging tapestry. The tapestry has stitching of princesses and unicorns playing together in peace. Bella’s tired of running.

PANEL 4. Bella reaches into the folds of her dress.

PANEL 5. She pulls out two large semi-auto handguns -- Smith and Wesson 990L 9mm, 4 Inch, double action, stainless steel. Thank you very much.

PANEL 6. Close on Bella, looking straight at the reader. She’s tough as hell. There’s a blue bird on her shoulder.

BELLA: Let’s go to the ball.


The script for HOW TO LOSE BIG is coming along. I finished chapter three yesterday and will start chapter four later tonight. This might be the best thing I've written, which is good -- considering it's the most recent thing I've written.

It's hard to judge from my perspective. I felt most "at home" writing KARMA INCORPORATED. EMILY EDISON was a lot of fun creatively, a wild collaboration. And ASTRONAUT DAD went through so many re-writes; it may be the closest I ever get to literary fiction (as opposed to popular or genre fiction). With HOW TO LOSE BIG, I've had several moments where I lean back and think, "Oh, this is nice." Maybe my baby ego is becoming a man, deeper voice and all (as spoken by Patrick Warburton)?

It was actually Paul who approached me with the idea for HOW TO LOSE BIG (email sent on August 5, 2008, I archive everything). The original title was HOW TO BREAK INTO COMICS (OR DIE TRYING). He described it as "a group of four or five friends who are small time comic creators and their trials and tribulations trying to get into mainstream comics." There's a twist, but I can't really share that. Can I?

Usually, I don't like working from another person's story concept. No offense, but a lot of comic book artists are only looking for a new reason to draw ninjas, zombies, pirates, robots, monsters, aliens, super heroes, or some combination. But Paul? He suggested a story that was actually a story. I guess, as the creator of DASH BRADLEY, he had tapped the "guilty pleasure" vein dry and was ready for something with a little tenderness. Also, it helped that Paul said in his email: "we could get together and develop it into something more detailed or you can just take this idea and run with it," which I interpreted as "just take this idea and run with it." It made me less worried about ruining his story. HOW TO LOSE BIG did come back around to being a collaboration. Paul helped immensely with the plot, and working with him on the story felt very natural. It's one of those rare partnerships where every new idea begins with "Yes, and..." You forget you're plotting a story. Instead, you're cracking up over where these characters are prone to wander. And you go there. After the plot was more or less finished, I grabbed our notes and crawled into my office to write the script. Occasionally, I'd slide bits of the script to him via email for feedback. Beyond that, this part of the process requires me to isolate myself. I do a lot of pacing and talking to myself. My unofficial iTunes soundtrack consists of Queen's Somebody to Love, Supertramp's Dreamer, She & Him's Sweet Darlin, Stevie Wonder's Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours, Joni Mitchell's Raised On Robbery, and Lose Big by Eef Barzelay, of course.

My biggest concern with writing a story about indie comics was it feeling like an auto-bio, as though I'm hiding my own persona behind the protagonist. I'm not. Leslie Odom is not me. I have no interest in some angsty self evaluation. After all, that's what blogs are for. HOW TO LOSE BIG should feel like the most honest take on indie comics, with a lot of heart and still be absolutely absurd. Hell, I'll say it. This story is my ALMOST FAMOUS, a love letter to comics and my friends. (Yes, for Cameron Crow, that movie was slightly auto-bio, but whatever, the example still holds.)

No pressure, Paul.

I do feel bad for Paul. He's going to be drawing lots of convention scenes, road trips along I-35, people hanging out at the comic book store, people talking pop culture in their hotel rooms, people sitting in the cereal aisle of a grocery store at two in the morning. On the other hand, with the inclusion of OH NO POGO and PRINCESSES VS. UNICORNS, Brock and Katie get to draw all the fun violent stuff with monsters and guns. Sorry Paul, you were invited to the wrong party.

For those keeping score, all previous posts about HOW TO LOSE BIG...

August 25, 2008: I first mentioned the comic, no title, and included character designs from Paul. I said it takes place in Lawrence, Kansas and involves some small press/indie comic book creators. (click here)

November 13, 2008: I announced the title, posted the logo, and said I started work on the script. I described it as a graphic novel about "comic book industry and failure." (click here)

December 9, 2008: I shared more character designs. I described it as "a wonderful comic book project that we're working on... about working on a wonderful comic book project." (click here)

December 16, 2008
: I revealed the two comics-within-the-comic, OH NO POGO illustrated by Brock Rizy and PRINCESSES VS. UNICORNS. Erin Riggs was attached as the artist at the time. Yes, the comic would include violence between princesses and unicorns. (click here)

January 18, 2009: Paul came over to the house, and we finished plotting the story HOW TO LOSE BIG. I said I was happy with it, and that Paul had most of the good ideas. (click here)

February 3, 2009: I posted a page from OH NO POGO. I described the style as "Brock Noir" and said the story was my attempt at something involving secret super agents and monsters. Concerning the outline for HOW TO LOSE BIG, I commented that Paul and I kept each other entertained with insane twists in this story, especially the climax. I said the story has a message about the strained relationship between commerce and artistry, professionalism and friendship. (click here)

February 4, 2009: I posted a page from HOW TO LOSE BIG. (click here)

And there you go. The most complete update on HOW TO LOSE BIG I can possibly offer. Keep us in your good will, start a fan club -- we need to get this graphic novel published.


Tomorrow, PopGun Vol. 3 will be in stores. The anthology features my story "50 Miles to Marfa" (on page 311), illustrated by Dan Warner. These short stories are good opportunities to work with artists who might otherwise be too busy with their own projects, and it was a real thrill to collaborate with Dan. I hope I might be able to work with him again sometime in the future.

If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I'm signing copies of PopGun at Zeus Comics (more info).

I tried to print some spiffy bookmarks for the event, but apparently "Overnight Prints" is a misleading business name. Sure, they'll print them overnight, but that doesn't mean they'll ship it to you the next day. Why should I even pay for 2 Day Air, when they are so slow to process the order?

With no spiffy bookmarks, I'm open to suggestions for anything to make the signing fun (because obviously nothing says F-U-N like bookmarks).

In other anthology news, Melissa and I wrote a short story for Oni's JAM! TALES FROM THE DERBY GIRLS, which was officially accepted. We're waiting to hear from Editor Jill about which artist we'll be partnered with. And the short story "The Heist and the Heart Attack" (my continuation of "50 Miles to Marfa") is finished, story and art. It will be in PopGun Vol. 4.

Some non-anthology updates...

ASTRONAUT DAD - Brent is finishing the last chapter. Everything will be completed by the end of May. Yes, it looks awesome. The story will make you cry. More news to follow.

KARMA INCORPORATED - Some cool Hollywood stuff going on, but nothing I can talk about. It's frustrating, because if I told you, you'd say: "Wow. David. That's really cool." Instead, you know nothing.

EMILY EDISON - Likewise, cool Hollywood-ish stuff I can't talk about. Brock and I are making plans for an EMILY EDISON 2, but it's a long way off. Sorry.

FRONTIER - Anyone who pays close attention to my blog knows this story has been around for awhile. I have a great artist attached, Michael Shelfer. He's finishing the pencils to our proposal, and keeps teasing me that he'll send them soon. (The anticipation is killing me. Michael, you are killing me.) Michael is one of those guys where I found an instant connection. Like Brock, Tom, Paul, or Brent, I see this as the beginning of a great ongoing writer/artist partnership. Already, he's sending me ideas for another story.

HOW TO LOSE BIG - We're getting closer to a completed proposal. It's looking good.

MARGARET MILBY MYSTERIES - Tom Kurzanski and I are still developing this one. It's a series of short "reader-solves-it" mysteries for a younger audience. Margaret Milby is a fun character. I'd love to tell you more about her, but I won't.


Yesterday, I posted a page from OH NO POGO. Today, I wanted to share something from the main story in HOW TO LOSE BIG with art by Paul Milligan. Panel borders need to be drawn in. Also, there's a little bit of photoshop needed for lettering and to place studio logo on the front banner, along with the comic book covers. However, that's not the point; Paul let me share this, and I wanted to show off how awesome it looks.

Oh yes, it's happening.


For our epic Hopkins/Milligan project HOW TO LOSE BIG, as mentioned previously, there will be two comics-within-the-comic. One is PRINCESSES VS. UNICORNS, illustrated by Erin Riggs. And the other is OH NO POGO, illustrated by Brock Rizy. Brock sent the first page, unlettered. I really like this "Brock Noir" style. OH NO POGO is my attempt at something involving secret super agents and monsters.

Update: Paul and I finished the synopsis for HOW TO LOSE BIG. It's been a good collaboration. We both kept each other entertained with the insane twists in this story (the climax, oh man), but also there is a message about the strained relationship between commerce and artistry, professionalism and friendship.


April went to Austin. Apparently, in her absence, this is what I do...

* Went to Zeus Comics. Jason Janik took my picture for an upcoming profile in Quick, a local weekly newspaper. While there, I also bought JAMILTI & OTHER STORIES by Rutu Modan.

* Played kickball. Josh McKibben organized the Kickball Club. They play every Saturday at Glencoe Park in Dallas, very friendly and welcoming group. I realized just how pathetic I am at sports. In one of the more memorable moments, I ran to grab the fly ball. It bounced out of my hands. I dashed forward to grab it a second time, but my forward momentum was such that I lost my balance, hit the ground while rolling head over heels. Not that I was surrounded by athletes, it was quite common to see a person kicking the ball while holding a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other.

* Talk comics. Paul Milligan came over, and we caught up on all the recent comic/geek stuff.

* Went to Lone Star Comics. Obviously, one comic shop in an afternoon isn't enough. I showed Paul the new Lone Star on Cooper Street. It's a nice place. We wandered around, browsing. I survived without buying anything.

* Ate at Mega Chinese Buffet (actual name). Without April around, health and common sense go out the window. Final damage: Two trips to fill my plate and finishing with a bowl of jello.

* Work. What Paul actually came over for. We finished plotting the story HOW TO LOSE BIG. I'm happy with it. Paul's a good co-writer. He had most of the good ideas.

* Watched WANTED. I enjoyed the movie. It had all the goofy SPEEDRACER physics, but with violence. Lots of violence.

And now, it's Sunday morning, and I'm about to play some AGE OF EMPIRES III. Thus, April is gone for a day, and my life spirals into video games, comics, movies, food, and kickball.


An update on HOW TO LOSE BIG: Brock Rizy is on board to illustrate the comic-within-a-comic OH NO POGO, and Erin Riggs will illustrate the other comic-within-a-comic PRINCESSES VS. UNICORNS. Yes, that is the title. Of course, Paul Milligan is on the main story.

Two days ago, Erin sent some princess designs. So, let me clarify: Our graphic novel will include graphic violence between princesses and unicorns. I'm having too much fun.


Paul Milligan and I are working on a new project. I'm excited about this one. It's currently untitled -- takes place in Lawrence Kansas and involves some small press/indie comic book creators.

Also, Paul posted pages from Souvenir of Dallas, our semi-monthly comic for D Magazine. It's available on Paul's deviant art site.

#0 - Tour of Dallas
#1 - Loath and Fearing at the Ritz-Carlton
#2 - The Next Round
#3 - Water Slides & Magic Wands
#4 - The Mighty, Mighty Hands of Mayor Tom Leppert
#5 - Stadium Death Star

Enjoy. Our next installment will be featured in D Magazine's October issue.