Creating The Code 45 Graphic Novel During A Pandemic: A Series

The last 12 months have been a whirlwind combination of creativity, stress, uncertainty, chaos, and art. When Angela Hodge, Joe Ng, and I signed our publishing contract with Scout Comics just over a year ago, brought Josh Perez on board as colorist, and then decided we were going to launch a series of Kickstarter campaigns to help cover the costs associated with producing the book, we had no way of knowing that most of the world would fall apart about 60 days later.

I’m not going to write about the pandemic; its story has been chronicled in the millions of posts, tweets, comments, and new stories that continue to be published as it continues to fundamentally alter our lives. In discussing the creation, planning, organization, funding, and distribution of Code 45, however, it remains a constant shadow that loomed over our team’s efforts.

In the breather between the second and third issues having shipped and Joe and I completing the layout for issue four, I’ve had the chance to reflect back on the journey that we’ve all been on.

Despite Joe and Josh having long careers on the art side of the comic book industry, Angela’s deep roots in book publishing and design, and my own extensive writing business, this was the first time any of us had put together our own comic series from top to bottom. Certainly, none of us had ever used Kickstarter as a platform before. That meant we all had a lot of learning to do, and most of that was occurring in real-time as we went through the process of putting our imaginations on paper, and then somehow convincing other people to share in our dream from the very first cover to the final page.

Over the next few months I’m going to look at specific aspects of what it was like producing a graphic novel like Code 45 during what was, and in many ways still is, one of the most difficult times in many of our lives. Some of the mistakes we made were clearly tied to dealing with the pandemic, but surprisingly there were components of our success—especially with Kickstarter—that were tied to it, too.

With this series of posts, I hope to give everyone who believed in Code 45 a chance to look behind the curtain at what their support helped to make happen throughout 2020. I also want to offer first-time comic creators a warts-and-all look at what it takes to nurture a project like this one from beginning to end, and hopefully help them avoid some of the pitfalls we ran into.

Most of all, I want to say ‘thank you’ over and over again to all of the people who have made all of the above possible. I don’t think I’ve ever been this grateful to so many friends and strangers for diverting even one small percentage of their attention to the world of Code 45 while dealing with an steadily-crumbling reality.

It has been truly humbling.

Click here to read the first 8 pages of Code 45 for free!

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