The first five Schlock Mercenary books are a set. We even sell them as one. They represent the early years of the comic when Howard was still figuring out how to draw, and script, and who his characters really were. They also represent our early years in publishing when we were figuring out how to design books and arrange for the printing of them. It is interesting to note that final book of the set ended just a few weeks prior to the day when Howard quit his corporate job to be a cartoonist. So that first set of books also represents an era in our lives, the years when Howard split his time between day job and comic.
The book we are working on now, Resident Mad Scientist, will be the first book in a new set. This set will be much more uniform in size and content. It will contain six books, starting with RMS and ending with the book which is currently airing on the web, Family Anti-Matter. The set will span the era of our lives when we were scrambling to make cartooning work, and the beginning of when it finally did. It is going to take a couple of years before we have the set in our hands, but I am looking forward to that day.
This morning Howard and I spent an hour talking about design changes for RMS. We want to get it right because the decisions we make on this book need to be carried through the five that will follow. Howard sketched out the things he wants to be different. I countered with alternate proposals. Then I came away with a list of changes to make so that we can see what they will look like. I walked down the stairs excited and interested, but not afraid. I spent most of the 8 months we worked on Teraport Wars terrified that I would accidentally break the book. It is nice to feel confident in my ability to tackle what must be done.
Next week will be full of lay out. I’ll be executing the design changes, placing margin art, and fixing typos. I look forward to this work because when we reach this stage the book is almost done. It starts being something we can see, touch, and anticipate rather than just a looming task which much get done.