Better Worlds For Zipguy

Sometimes, when it seems like the hopeful thing to do, I believe in alternate universes. Infinite Earths, and the like. Mostly, I believe that for every choice I make, there’s somewhere in the quantum whatever where I made the right choice instead.

(Which, I suppose, says a lot about my choices here. Or at least my opinion of them.)

When I got out of college, it was technically as an English major. But when you get out of college, you’re supposed to be whatever the hell you want…and I was a comic artist. Never mind what my degree said.

Never mind the fact that outside of some energetic figure work and barely-clever storytelling, I wasn’t much of an artist at all. Backgrounds were a rare thing, even in establish shots. Vehicles were verboten.

I could draw people (from the ankles up), but the world those people had to inhabit? Not so much.

I had a creator-owned superhero book, Zipguy, that I’d been noodling over since high school. Five years, over a hundred pages, something like eleven rip-it-up-and-start-again restarts.  I think maybe one publisher saw it in all that time.

What finally broke me, as an aspiring artist, was the door sequence.

It seems a simple thing: draw the bad guy kicking out the door of a science facility.

I could not, for the life of me, get it to look right. The perspective was off, or the physics didn’t work, or it was too bland. It was like the entirety of the Apocalypse Now production problems focused into a single panel.

Right before I gave up, another artist suggested I use a program for 3D modeling. Model the scene, very simply, in that, and then just copy it. I scoffed at the idea, took another stab at the panel, and quit forever.

In another world, a better world, I threw a few rectangles into the program. Moved them around. Drew it when I liked it, and moved on.

In that world, I imagine, Zipguy eventually got picked up. It maybe had a healthy run, maybe more importantly made my name, got me other work. And I made a career off of it.

A career that, ha, hinged on my drawing the door.

But that’s in a better world. Here on Earth-Whatever, I only need to know if you want slightly larger fries with that meal you just ordered.

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Josh Hechinger is a future writing superstar/cautionary tale. He lives in Pennsylvania.

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