When I posted the last page of The Utopian in October 2010 (technically, I probably posted it a month earlier), a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I’d been producing that webcomic entire — writing, art, coloring, lettering, etc. — at a pace of one-to-two pages a week for a year-and-a-half. While I never missed a scheduled posting, there were definitely some close calls and late nights, and when it was over, it was nice to go back to single-project-based work. I put out the trade paperback and effectively closed the door on that chapter of my creative life.
Or so I thought. But then a weird thing happened: readers started asking about a sequel. They naturally assumed there was more coming. It’s not that I hadn’t considered it (the ending was deliberately left open to interpretation ), but I had no concrete ideas about what to do next with that particular world I’d created.
Plus, even though I was done with the story, I had put a lot of effort into protecting and securing the “Utopian” name, something that only happened toward the end of the series. Sure, my hand was forced by external parties to do so, but why bother if I hadn’t intended to do more with The Utopian? And, so, on April 15 — the third anniversary of the original strip’s launch — a new Utopian comic debuted online, subtitled “Foundation.”
I don’t want to give away anything to anyone who hasn’t read the first volume of The Utopian (and if you haven’t, here, buy it for 25 percent off), but basically, the title protagonist’s story was completely finished, leaving me only supporting cast to work with. I knew what I wanted to do with some of them, but where I came up with the idea for a lead character in a wheelchair? I don’t know. I can’t pinpoint when I first started brewing ideas for this sequel of sorts, actually, I just know that once I laid down the initial foundation (get it?), it sort-of built itself from there.
So what we have is a twice-weekly webcomic serial that’s vastly different from its predecessor, yet taking place within the same “universe” with many of the same characters. Instead of being told from the singular perspective of a lone protagonist, it’s being told “soap opera” style, bouncing between the interconnected lives of various players. Even the presentation is different — a landscape format more comfortable for web reading, whereas the previous volume was laid out in standard, portrait comic book format.
I have no particular goal in mind other than to let these characters tell me where their stories should go next. That’s the biggest difference — this comic is all about the characters. Plot is secondary. That doesn’t mean there’s not a definitive, linear story — there most certainly is. But like The Wire*, how all the pieces fit won’t be obvious at first. You have to watch all the threads slowly being woven together into a tapestry. Or something like that.
So, check it out. Subscribe, if that’s your thing. I’m slowly building, but the pace will pick up. The stuff I have written for down the road is snappier, tighter, as I find a rhythm to this new (for me) style of storytelling. And if it sucks, I want you to let me know. Of course, if you like it, I’d love to hear that too. Either way, I appreciate you giving The Utopian: Foundation a look.
*Yes, from here on out, everything I write will be influenced by/compared to The Wire. Deal with it.