I love doing conventions. While I'm usually referred to as "that guy that doesn't talk" in my day-to-day bullshit, I genuinely love going to cons, putting my work out there, and engaging in whatever discussions they bring up. Part of that is because most of the comics-making process involves (for me, at least) working by myself late into the night when it feels like the rest of the sensible world has gone to sleep, and cons are a good way for me to pop my head out and remember that no: I'm not just sitting in an empty room rambling to myself, there is a larger component to this.
So yeah, I really dig doing shows and I love interacting with readers. There are, however, two questions/comments that I and every other creator get that we all absolutely hate:
"I really like (thing you made), it reminds me of (someone else's shit)."
Speaking for all creators (which I absolutely do no have the authority to do), we understand this type of comment comes from the kindest of intentions, and most of us take it with some variety of grace, but ugh...not a fan of that comment. It (albeit unintentionally) undercuts our goal to carve our own niche, to speak in our own voice, etc. We get what you're trying to say and we appreciate it, but... I dunno, phrasing?
"Where do you get your ideas?"
I can absolutely answer that question, but I hope you have some time to kill. I can't speak for other creators, but I don't have this single magical well I tap into for ideas. I can't point to a shady looking chest and say "There. I get my ideas from that box." Each story and print I do comes it's own horrible place. Sometimes they're spontaneous and seemingly from thin air, and sometimes I have a personal goal or idea I want to express, and I have to carve that fucker out. So "Where do you get your ideas?" is problematic for me because I don't want to drop a list on you. A better version of that question would be, "What is your goal for this story/piece?" or "Where did you get the idea for this specific thing?"
And with that, let me get to the real point of this post and ramble about VOID for a bit. The whole story is now available to read on my site, so I thought this might be a good opportunity to show how the origin for a single story can be so unique and specific to the story it leads to that the "where do you get your ideas" question is almost impossible to answer.
Some time last year, I was riding in a U-Haul down I-65 from Louisville back home to Chicago with my boy Bryan. He runs a toy store and I was helping him work a vendor table at a convention in Louisville. The show was over and we were headed home. Now anyone from the area can tell you that I-65 is pretty much a long, boring stretch of nothing, save for this sign:
...and a wind farm closer to Chicago. So we've been driving through this nothing for a few hours now and it's getting dark and we're ready to be home. Then we hit a detour. There was major construction on a large chunk of 65 so now we find ourselves winding through random backroads and empty farmland in the middle of nowhere. This detour went on longer than usual and eventually the sun set.
So it's an hour or two into this detour, and we're driving along and bullshitting (I think we were concocting some nonsense about me and Taylor Swift being the same person and Fight Club starts happening for real, but it's Taylor instead of Tyler Durden...it was a long drive.) and we hit the wind farm. It turns out each of the turbines (?) has a red pulsing light at the top of it, and when you're in the middle of it, it's just red pulsing lights in the sky as far as the eye can see.
So that's where I was at: middle of nowhere on an old country road, all we can really see is what the headlights reach, and countless red pulsing lights in the sky. There was something alien about it. I thought there was a story in that mood somewhere, so I pulled out my phone and took a bit of video that I eventually turned into a teaser for the comic:
So yeah...that's where VOID came from. Nothing else I've done has, or could, come from that moment. Wayward has it's own origin, as does IT LOOKS BACK and Nowhere and everything else I have done or will do. I don't believe a creator has a single idea well they just keep returning to when they're in need of a new idea. These things happen randomly and organically. They can come instantly, like a mood you catch in an odd situation, or they can come over time as they slowly gestate in your head.
And there lies my conundrum. When someone asks, "Where do you get your ideas?" I can tell them this story, then each story for every other thing I've done, but I don't think they have that much time to kill.