I was eight years old when I authored my first illustrated novella.
I'd be lying if I told you I remember anything about writing and drawing TOXIC KILLER. But I rediscovered it 20 or so years later and I was damn impressed that I was able to write one chapter, let alone five! I guess you could say this was my first book, so apparently I've been in the game since 1990.
2. In the Hospital
4. On the Trail
5. Safe and Sound
While I'm awfully pleased with those chapter names, my absolute favorite part of the book is the dedication page, which reads...
Chapter 1 - Shock
One day in the city, our hero Harrison Camp was walking with his friend John Congo in the crunching snow when Harrison said, "Hey John what did you do last night? …John?… JOHN!" Harrison looked around. Where was John?
"Harryyyy!" a voice came from an alley.
"JOHN!" Harry jumped onto a passing car and rolled off because it was going too fast. He lay on the ground unconscious.
A little bit later... "Hey, wake up mister," said a big man who looked like Andre the Giant to Harrison, whose eyes were not in focus.
"Harry!" said the man.
"Wha? H-h-h-how d-d-d-did y-y-y-you know m-m-m-my name?"
Chapter 2 - In the Hospital
"Mr. Camp? Mr. Camp?" said a voice.
"Wha? Yes, my name is Camp, Harrison Camp."
"Good, quite good," said the doctor.
"But how did you know my name?" asked Harry.
"I have my ways," said the doctor.
Harry and the doctor know each other, but then Harry remembered John and the car and the big man!
Chapter 3 - John!
Harrison tore off the covers and ran out of the hospital and, as luck would have it, Harry bumped into Paul, another friend.
"Paul, can you give me a lift?" asked Harry.
"Sure," answered Paul.
Once Harry made it home, he grabbed his coat and his skateboard.
Chapter 4 - On the Trail
Harry ran out of his house and he saw the man who looked like Andre the Giant. He was driving a blue pickup TRUCK!!
Harrison laid down his skateboard, got on it, and skated off towards the truck. He grabbed onto the truck and it pulled him to an old WAREHOUSE! Harry hid behind the car as the man got out of the car and walked into the warehouse.
Chapter 5 - Safe and Sound
Boom! The door closed behind the man. Harry snuck through an open window. Very quietly he walked around the place. He walked into a strange room and the door closed behind him.
"Hello, Harrison!" said a deep voice.
Harry ran for the door but it was locked. "Where am I?" asked Harry.
"YOU ARE IN YOUR DEATH BED!" said the voice. "You have to be smart to get out of here." Suddenly the room started to fill up with 94 octane gas and XP13 gas.
Harry started to climb up a ladder that led to a little compartment in the ceiling. Harry knocked it open with his feet and there was only a bottle?
Harry jumped down from the ladder with the bottle still in his hands and looked for a loose spot. He knocked it with the bottle and heard a loud thump!
There was a hole in the wall. He jumped through the hole. There were two doors in front of him. Normally people would choose 1, but then they would choose 2 because they would think he is tricky, so Harry chose 1.
There was John behind the door and a time bomb! "Let's run," said John.
Harry looked at the time bomb, five seconds! They ran out of the exit in enough time to see the building explode.
That's where Harrison Camp's story ended, with an unceremonious "TO BE CONTINUED!" Not quite the auspicious conclusion you want from your first novel.
So that's why I'm revisiting the world of Toxic Killer with TOXIC KILLER 2: TOXIC FRIENDS, a four page comic in the anthology Left-Handed Compliments: Writers Drawing Their Childhood Characters. Organized by James F. Wright, it has a kickass lineup of creators and it's coming soon.
But that's not all! The sequel is getting its own sequel, LAZER BIRD: ALL-SEEING, which will be part of Claire Napier's digital comics magazine, BUN&TEA. Serialized in six parts, this story will be available in 2019, potentially after some crowdfunding. I'll update you with links when I got 'em!
And now for the sequel!
UPDATE 06.25.19: Above is the Left-Handed Compliments collection, appropriately in the clutches of James F. Wright's left hand. He printed it for the 2019 spring convention season, taking it to Emerald City Comic Con and WonderCon, among others.
Here's Toxic Killer 2: Toxic Friends, my four-page comic from the anthology (click to zoom and read it in fullscreen):
This short story has been incredibly influential on my past year. I drew it in September 2018 when my wife Rosie was away in London, where I should have been too if not for my expired passport that I discovered too late (eek!). After that harrowing time, I decided I wanted to continue on with these characters and found a willing advocate in Claire Napier, who's including a spinoff entitled Lazer Bird: All-Seeing in her BUN&TEA anthology series. Here's the first page of that story:
As you can see, things in Lazer Bird begin almost directly from the end of Toxic Friends. This project has been pushing me forward on an alternate path from my other current comics, as I'm on the trail of a crude yet detailed cartooning style that I can fully make my own. BUN&TEA
should be crowdfunding soon, so we'll see what happens is on Kickstarter now, so please back it!