I love to write stories. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, doing my best to mimic Edgar Rice Burroughs with some outlandish rip-offs. What many don’t know about me, however, is that my first love is editing.
When I was younger, it was all about making a writer’s sentences grammatically correct. English grammar was my thing. I understood it and had a knack for helping others get over their grammar hurdles. As I developed as an editor, it was more about helping the writer get sentences to flow and work with each other in a way that made for smooth, easy reading.
As time went on, I gravitated back to focusing on the story. I can’t tell you how rewarding and fun it is for me to help a writer make his story truly sing.
So when I began developing the ideas behind TEN31 Publishing, I knew I wanted to invite other writers to create comics with me. To tell stories that I would edit and publish, but stories that were 100% the writer’s own. That way I can balance both loves, writing and editing, and do so by collaborating with others to make exciting comics.
One of the writers I talk with frequently is Brandon Barrows, a comic and prose writer from Vermont. Our conversations were helpful during the early days of TEN31 planning, and I knew I’d want him to write a script for me. Unfortunately, he wasn’t terribly keen on the idea of writing for kids, an audience he never really considered for his work. But that wasn’t going to stop me from asking him to do it anyway.
Brandon digs H.P. Lovecraft. A lot. I know this because he’s written a collection of comic stories and prose stories filled with weird Lovecraftian horror. So I figured maybe I could entice him to write a Lovecraft tale for kids. I pitched the idea and he was like, “No way” and “How would that even work?” His response made sense because, let’s face it, Lovecraft isn’t for kids. I pressed harder, though, coming up with random (and bad) ideas about a cute, almost cuddly Cthulhu overtaking a small town.
Luckily, he didn’t take me up on any of those ideas. But Brandon is a creative writer through and through, which means he came up with something much, much better called THE GRUMPLEDOWNS GANG AND THE CASE OF THE MAIL-ORDER SHOGGOTHS. He sent me a script and I loved it. It was exciting and fun. It had thrills. It had monsters. It was scary. And yep, it had a hint of Lovecraft. All perfectly situated for the 7+ age group.
His script was probably the easiest I’ve ever edited. Sure, I pushed him to make it better. That’s what editors do. But Brandon took my suggestions and not only ran with them, but improved upon them, too. Within a week, he had locked down on one hell of a comic story. One that, when published, will make kids second guess going to their school’s Halloween party.
The panels you see in this post are from Brandon’s upcoming TEN31 comic, with amazing art by Rafael Loureiro. Below are the full page images.