It’s been a long time. That’s my theme for the week. The theme comes up because I dug something out of my digital files this week that I haven’t seen in a long time. Back in about 1998 my friends and I decided to self-publish our own comic. We put out four issues of an anthology comic called “Kansas Thunder” and then I put out a two issue series called “Delia Charm: The Getaway and the Chase” to continue my story. You can be forgiven if you’ve never heard of either of these comics because not many people have. 1998 was a terrible year for comics in general and an especially terrible year for indie comics. Not many comic books were selling and ours sure didn’t. Still I’m proud of it and think it was a pretty good comic.

I’ve seen (but not read) the physical comic recently since I have a ton of them lying about the place but what was new was that I actually dug out the digital files. I was going to be interviewed on a podcast about my days working in the Marvel Bullpen so I wanted to send the guys interviewing me PDFs of the six comics my friends and I made.

Nowadays hard drives are so big that I keep almost everything I’ve done on one where it’s handy. I can find things pretty easily. That was not the case in 1998. Though I was fully computerized back then and the whole comic was scanned in and published via desktop publishing I didn’t have room to keep all the files on my hard drive. So I backed them up on CD’s. That’s how we did things in the late 1990s. We didn’t even had DVDs to back things up on yet. Now I had to dig though my dusty old binder of CDs to find them. Good thing I’m organized because those were my only copies.

One of the first things I noticed about the files was that the came from the days when you didn’t have to put a file type on a document if you were using a Mac. If it was a jpg file you didn’t have to put “.jpg” on the end of the file. The OS would be fine without it. So most of my files had no identifying suffix on them. That looked odd. It was also the days before Adobe Indesign took over and Quark still dominated the publishing field. So the books had been laid out using Quark. Plus there were two books that had no layout file. That was strange. I dropped a Quark file onto the InDesign icon and hoped for the best. I was amazed when it opened up. Everything wasn’t quite where it should be but with some minor tinkering I got it up to snuff.

It really struck me that it has been since 1998 that these files have seen the light of day. I have so much stuff on my hard drive these days that it’s hard to believe that these files weren’t on there. 1998 wasn’t that long ago but it is still a different era. And I can remember thinking over the years that I should track down those files but I never did. Weird.

I kept things pretty organized back in 1998 and I was happy with my past self for making things easy for my present self. First off the comics all have multiple stories. That could easily have made a mess of things. Plus I was still hand lettering things but some of the other work was lettered digitally. It would be in trouble if things didn’t all line up properly. It seems like I was worried about this back in 1998 though and I merged the both the finished lettering and art files into a single file for printing. And I labeled that file with the books page number and then the individual story page number. It was pretty foolproof and made things move a lot faster.

The only slight problem I had was that I wanted all the files in one PDF and they were in three Quark documents to begin with. Back in those days printers insisted on a slightly larger trim size for the covers so covers had to go in a separate document. I also had a third document for the inside covers. That’s just the way things were done. Now I had to put them all in one document. That wasn’t terribly hard but I was fooled for a moment because I didn’t notice the documents were two different sizes. 1998 was a long time ago and it took me a minute to figure things out.

As I said before I haven’t sat down and read these comics in a long time. In the interview I gave I was trying my best to remember what the ideas were that I had for it, and could remember a bunch of them, but some eluded me. Why were those guys with guns chasing Delia? You’d think I could remember that part but I couldn’t.

About as much as I want to reread the comics I also want to reread the editorials that I wrote. As I remember them they were a bit like this blog. I was telling breezy stories about what was going on behind the scenes of us making the comic. It was the beginning of the kind of writing I wanted to do that I don’t think I picked up again until I started this blog back in late 2005. I remember a tale about an egg sandwich, one about French fries, and a third about a notebook. I had usually carried a sketchbook with me but those were the first days I started writing in a notebook. I have no memory of the other three editorials.

1998. A lot of time has passed since then but this week I took a little trip back there. And here is the interview.