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By my count, we have now killed or seemingly killed Lady Jemith Jennaci three times in this comic. (Man, she has it rough.) I will say, visually speaking, this is my favorite one. (We didn’t actually SEE either of the other two times. The first time, it was recounted in a conversation between Jasoom and Hunter. The second time, we just saw her body, hacked in two.) Will this time stick, do you think?

Actually, I have to say that I grow very thoughtful whenever it comes to the disposition of one of our female characters. I fancy myself a feminist and I try really hard make serve that I serve my female characters as well as I do my males ones…but I’m also a dude. When you look across my body of work, I like to think my feminism shines through, but Hunter Black, taken by itself? Maybe not so much. I certainly had to be pulled up short with regards to certain decisions that certain characters made, and being pulled up really tightened up and expanded the story in what I hope are wonderful ways. (It hasn’t all played out yet, so I’ll just have to remain vague at the moment.)

I wish we lived in a world where I didn’t have to be extra careful when I kill off a character because it’s a female character, but we do, so I do. Of course, death is a different kind of circumstance in fantasy…who’s to say that Lady Jennaci’s story is done? (I mean, Will and I are, but we’re not saying one way or the other…yet.)

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It might not seem like a big deal, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Hunter from the angle presented in Panel One before. I’ve lived with this character for five years and damn near 650 pages, so any new permutation of the character really stands out to me. I really dig it.

Speaking of things that aren’t a big deal, one of my employees came up to me today, gushing about the fact that I write comics. Now, I don’t really trumpet much about my writing career at work, conflict of interest and all of that, but I do still make the occasional social media blast. While I don’t accept friend requests from staff (for their protection, actually), if I decline/ignore one, they’re still going to be able to see most of MY posts…which is fine since most of my posts are about comics, movies, and sharing cute animal videos for #Squirrel. So I guess this employee found her way to The Family Secret and to Over My Dead Body on Comixology, which is totally awesome. She even found the chapters of Funhouse Mirror that I wrote on my Tumblr blog (the rest of which is going out to Patreon supporters…as I write them) and she dug those…

…but she hadn’t read Hunter Black, our magnum opus! In her defense, I think webcomics are pretty new to her, and she wasn’t sure about the navigation. I talked her through it today.

It’s exceedingly rare that I meet someone who is familiar with my work; I just don’t have that much of it out there, and what there is hasn’t exactly broken wide. I mean, my most viewed work is probably the episode of Avengers Assemble! I co-wrote, and nobody’s associating that cartoon with this lowly restaurant manager. You guys have no idea, having someone to whom I have never talked about my work come up and start talking about these comics was a huge deal for me. Made my whole day.

Is this entire blog post a thinly veiled attempt at providing you guys links to some of my other works? Yes. Does that make any of the above less true or heartfelt? Not at all.

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Now I HAD seen this page already, but I didn’t take too close a look at the undead soldiers flanking Zezem the Cruel. They’re pretty cool. By the way, this outfit that Zezem is wearing is what passes for “geared up for war.” I was thinking he’d look more like my idea of a war wizard, you know…wear a shirt or something. (Please don’t take this as anything other than tongue in cheek complaining. I think he looks SWEET.)

As I write this, Hunter Black Volume Two is DONE…or at least the script for it is. I think it ultimately clocked in at exactly four hundred pages, which is a bit excessive. (I have no one to blame for that but myself.) With any luck, Volume Three will be a considerably more streamlined affair. I don’t have as many twists and turns that I want to apply to the story, nor as many characters that need introducing. So we’ll see.

So I’m working on the experimental novel again, and I think I just came up with a spec episode of TV that I want to write. With any luck, I’ll be able to write that before the summer is over. Writing, writing, writing. (Working on the novel sounds way more grandiose than what I did, which was write a page of utter BULLSHIT, dump it and then write about half a page of something that I can charitably say isn’t god-awful…but I wouldn’t say I’m proud of it, either. Baby steps.)

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You know, I actually agonized over that snippet of dialogue in Panel Three. Does it break the tension? Does it reveal character? What do I do if both things are true? What is more important? This is probably saying too much, but it came to having faith in the groundwork we’ve laid over the years with this comic, and faith in the audience that’s been here this long.

Speaking of agonizing writing questions that I have to ask myself, I’m dealing with a dilemma right now. A couple of years ago, I decided to experiment with writing a novel in snippets. I would “free-write” one installment a week until it was done. No hardcore pre-planning, no charts or index cards, just a “stream of consciousness” sort of experience for myself. I was going to do one of these writing sessions once or twice a week. I got about four or five weeks in before I reached a weird conclusion.

The novel that I was reading was going to be much better off as a screenplay, and that revelation brought me to a screeching halt. I wasn’t ready to embark on a screenplay, and anyway, writing a screenplay wasn’t the point…so I stopped. (Yes, I’m a wuss sometimes.)

So I’ve reached a point in my writing career where I want to do MORE, and the story that I began with my attempt at novel writing began calling to me, so I went back and reread what I’d written…and upon reading it, it didn’t feel like a screenplay AT ALL. It feels like prose! But I had those feelings for a reason the first time around, and…

…now I’m torn. Well, maybe torn is the wrong word, because I know what I’m going to do. I’m going back to the original plan and writing the damn novel, and if, when I’m done, it must be a screenplay, then I’ll write that, too.

Anyway, I tell all of you this because if you want to offer your two cents about it, I’m going to offer what I’ve been writing up to our Patrons. (So, you have to offer two DOLLARS, not two cents, because that’s all it costs each month to be a Patron.) Feedback will be welcome there.

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Damn it, I had not seen this page yet!!! I don’t know if Will put it off or what, but this has never been available for me to see before (at least not that I’ve noticed). Will did a nice job of showing you what Zezem has got going on, huh? Now, tell me, what sort of an army do you think that is?

I have to say, I’ve been a more productive writer this past week than I have almost the entire seven months I’ve been a restaurant manager. I don’t know what changed, but I’m super glad it did. I feel alive again. I was worried that the death of Prince would put me into a funk that would keep me off of the keyboard, but if anything, it’s been quite the opposite. I’ve been struck by how much time Prince obviously spent playing music, I mean he played over 20 instruments, and I realize that I have to put in those kinds of hours writing if I ever want to be my own kind of royalty.

Hopefully, I’ll have more cool things to share with you later this week!

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