Thursday, October 16, 2008
I hope another writing update is okay, because I'm resurrecting the Cownt and want to talk about it. Tomorrow we'll go back to talking about other people's stories.
If you've known me for a while, you know that I've got this vampire cow character called the Cownt that I created with my brother-in-law. Yes, there's a superficial similarity to Hell Cow from that Howard the Duck story, but I swear that Dave and I didn't read Howard the Duck (thanks to George Lucas) and anyway, the "vampire cow" concept is where the likeness ends. With all respect to Steve Gerber, the Cownt is much, much cooler. And anyway, Gerber wasn't the first to come up with the idea either.
The lead story in Tales from the Inner Sanctum #1 is actually a Cownt story. The artist on that one is Scotland's own Gavin Spence who's responsible for most of the visual look of the bovamp (though the version above has evolved dramatically from the Inner Sanctum version).
Anyway, for various reasons, Gav and I have never been able to get a Cownt comic off the ground, but we love the character and everyone we talk to loves the character, so we've brought in some assistance to help us get a book going.
Jess Hickman came up with the idea for a Cownt anthology a FallCon or two ago. She's always been the Cownt's biggest fan and my strongest encouragement to do something with him. Witness, for example, the Halloween card she and Grant sent me this year.
For whatever reason, I was dead set on getting a full, 22-page one-shot done before I wanted to start thinking about short stories. A large part of it was because I was still trying to figure out just what kind of character the Cownt ought to be.
But then Warren Ellis came up with that idea about forming a band and I really wanted to try it. Pretty much as soon as the idea of an anthology comic written by me with three different artists hit my head, I knew it had to be a Cownt book.
It wouldn't be a Cownt book without Gav, so he obviously needed to be on board. And he is.
Jess was the easy second choice. She showed me her design of the Cownt at FallCon.
No wait. That's a picture Jess took of me at my table during FallCon. Here are her sketches.
Jess and I spent a lot of time at FallCon hashing out ideas for the Cownt book. I said before that I struggled with what kind of character I wanted the Cownt to be. I waffled between a Casper-esque kids' character, a dark homage to Hammer films and Marvel's Tomb of Dracula comic, or some kind of weird combination of the two. What Jess (and Jason and Darla and others who were hanging out at FallCon) helped me work through was that the Cownt isn't any of those. You can't compare him to other properties, because he's unique. Trying to tie him to those characters in my head was stifling me and making me try to change the character. They convinced me to just let the Cownt be the Cownt.
It all sounds so obvious now, but what I needed to do was come up with ideas based on reactions (mine as well as fans') to the Cownt drawings. People were laughing, but they were mostly adults and they were mostly giggling over his udders (and asking the inevitable question: how can he be a "he" if he has udders?). I could go on pulling this apart and thinking about it all night, but I'm already dangerously close to ruining the joke by explaining it, so I'll shut up. The point is that we've got the Cownt figured out now and he's ready to make his debut.
The third artist in our band is none other than the one-and-only Paul Taylor from Wapsi Square. I'm thrilled (and somewhat stunned and disbelieving) that Paul's interested in contributing. He's a wonderful cartoonist with an equally wonderful webcomic and he'll be perfect for Tales of the Cownt (or The Dark Cownt of Forbidden Love or whatever we end up calling it). I've actually got a Cownt drawing Paul did for me a year or so ago, but I'll save that for another time. Expect to hear a lot more about the Cownt as we progress.