REAY JESPERSEN:
WRITER OF, AND DABBLER IN,
MANY THINGS

On changing focus

It was a several years back that I first met Ricky Lima, an independent comic creator. He was running a seminar on creating your own comics, which offered me a teasing glimpse into how to do so. Teasing because, of course, one can’t learn everything one needs to know about making comics in a couple of hours of attending seminar. But it gave me a taste. It made me want to know more.

It wasn’t long after that, at a Free Comic Book Day event at the in-mall comic shop owned by common friends of ours, that I unexpectedly met Ricky again. He was among the numerous creator/artists sitting at the tables just outside the shop. We made small talk—goddamn, I hate small talk, but I get that there’s a time and a place for it—and I bought some of his comics and left and life went on.

Then I met him again at the same comic shop at FCBD the following year. At this point, we were becoming casually friendly, and I was comfortable enough to start asking him more questions and getting to know him a bit better.

It was perhaps at that unexpected meeting, or the following one, that Ricky suggested that I should focus on writing comics. I kept the suggestion in mind, but I’ve long tried to keep options open for what format to write in. I’ve found that at least as often as not, many stories that strike me will come paired with a feeling for what format they would work in. This one feels like a short story, or maybe a novella. That one feels more like a screenplay. Some would work better as a comic…

Cut to a couple of years later, late 2018ish, and a few things happen in short order: 1) I’m thinking more about comics and how to do them and make that work, and I hit up Ricky, asking if I can pick his brain on how to do indie comics The Ricky Lima Way—that’s actually not a thing, as far as I know, but it perhaps should be, because read on—over lunch (on me, for his time) and he agrees to the idea. 2) I get an idea for a story that would work well as a comic or as prose. I start working on it as the latter, being more familiar with that format. 3) Ricky wins a notable award for Favourite Writer (2018 Canadian Independent Comic Book Wiki Awards). I’m only half-jokingly glad I locked him into just lunch to pick his brain before his value went way up. Mind you, we haven’t actually connected to make it happen yet… 4) Best friend and confidante Alex Truman agrees with Ricky’s years-ago advice when I bring it up: I should focus on writing comics. He says he thinks I’d do well at it. And this is coming from a guy who’s brutally/endearingly honest about what I write. There’s literally know one who’s read as much of my writing as Alex. He probably knows better than I do what my strengths and weaknesses are. So hell, if he says he thinks I’d do well at it…

Well… guess what, everyone. I’m going to start focusing on writing comics.
Oh, and that story I mentioned in the #2 spot above? I’m currently on page seven of converting it into a comic script. And I’m enjoying it.

Stay tuned.

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