On October 7, 2006, my brother and I settled down for an epic all-nighter to end all all-nighters.
It was 24 Hour Comics Day, and I thought it would be a good way to kick start my return to the comics sphere…
10 Years Ago Last Month… Like Never Before & Like Never Again by Dominic Bercier and Soundtrack by Nicholas Bercier...
Only 5 years prior, I was assistant penciler on projects for Dark Horse, Top Cow, Image, CHAOS! and more. It was demanding but it was great and I loved it. I would show up at 10 am and work for 8 to 10 hours straight, draw fleshed out buildings in perspective, bullet casings flying everywhere, vehicles of all makes and models, and clouds, for example. I drew everything on the page that wasn’t a central character, and got little or no credit. I was invisible.
I was still a student at OCAD, studying illustration and design. But on days where I did not have class I was in the studio drawing. The lead [lead har har] penciler would scratch a few unintelligible lines on the 11x17 Bristol board, tell me what he wanted, and I went to work. The days were long but I was happy.
I was also hopeful that it would all lead to my own penciling gigs. But it was not meant to be. In 2001 I started Ghost King and abandoned it. In 2002-2003 I drew all of The Bird Caller. My home studio was riddled with drawings all over its walls. Think John Nash in A Beautiful Mind. I was consumed by it. But I never could find a publisher.
In late 2003 I left Toronto and came back to Ottawa. I found a series of designer positions, and comics then took to the backburner. In my free time in 2004-2005, I drew Treadwell. Work kept me busy. Comics, my first love, I very much had the strongest passion for still, but try as I might, the shows in Canada and in the USA, the contacts… nothing gelled.
Finally, in 2006, I found the ultimate comic book challenge… Scott McCloud’s 24 Hour Comic Book Day Challenge! I figured that if I could draw 24 pages in 24 hours that I could do absolutely anything in comics. Anything!!!
So on 7 October 2006, the first Saturday of the month of October each year, I sat down at about 5pm and started drawing my shamanic version of La Chasse Galerie, a French Canadian legend about lonely lumberjacks longing for home, and the flying canoe that got them there. I modified the story significantly, made it my own, and I was off to the races!
In my version there is no deal with the Devil, just the magic of the forest, and I think it worked out alright.
As I drew at a feverish pace and planned the pages ahead, my brother Nico pressed me for plot points. He was in his studio producing a soundtrack for the thing! Long story short, after coffee, cigarettes and beer [thanks Mom!], he and I made our 5pm Sunday deadline, and then I sent it off to 24Hour HQ in California a few days later.
They liked it so much they wrote a blurb about our effort and cited one page in the 2006 HIGHLIGHTS Anthology!
Back in Ottawa, Industry Images Creative Studios printed an edition of 240 copies, we threw a party at Mercury Lounge and the Lafayette, and it was a big hoopla! Then I hit the convention circuit again… I had a few panels of Ghost King, some complete The Bird Caller pages and now Like Never Before & Like Never Again, oh and Treadwell too! It led to my doing the production art for the DEFENDOR film [Sony Pictures 2010] and eventually led to Ghost King getting edited by Chris Staros [thanks Chris!].
But again fate conspired against me as the economic crash of '08-'09 cancelled any chances of a USA publisher picking it up.
In 2011, I redesigned LNBLNA and finally released it proper through my imprint Mirror Comics [publisher]. And the rest is history.
My intention had been this : …Until 26 January 2017, when I turn 40 [ah!], both the original integral 10th Anniversary Edition [2006-2016] at Mirror Comics Studios and the 5th Anniversary REDUX Edition , plus Nicholas Bercier’s unofficial soundtrack, would be available entirely for FREE on mirrorcomics.com.
However, it might just be possible that a prospective publisher might just be watching, and so I will NOT be posting the books. The silver lining!?!? You can still hear what I heard for that all-nighter with my brother Nico’s LNBLNA unofficial soundtrack. You will find it here.
How do you like them apples!?
We dearly hope you enjoy it! If you like what you hear, please show your appreciation by following @mirrorcomics and @DominicBercier on Twitter, and / or liking the Facebook Page for #MCS.
Note that this will be my last FREE offering for some time, and the next time you see my work published it will be by another publisher entirely, as I have begun work for various publishers across North America. For the same reason, I am removing TREADWELL as well. A fine comics store will have it sooner or later I'm sure!!
Tell your friends, tell your family, tell perfect strangers!
As the title suggests, it has been Like Never Before & Like Never Again…
Please celebrate with my brother and I, as we remember 7 October 2006, ten years ago last month. It was the first time I drew a comic in 24 hours, and it is likely to have been my last. Onward and upward!
Thanks for reading!!
Dominic Bercier, Ottawa, Canada, November 2016.
I can’t. I can’t tell you my story. Not until it’s all drawn and lettered. I know asking you to wait a few years is not fair. I know. That’s why I’m trying to go faster. But sometimes you can’t rush these things. It’s like drawing or writing, sometimes you just have to wait for it. But when the time is right, boy, you better watch out!
So let’s go for a truce or middle ground here.
I’ll try to draw more and faster. And you practice patience. Nothing I’ve published so far will prepare you for the story I’m constructing now. It’s been though 25+ years of false starts, rewrites, edits, endless sketching and drawings, and mashing up with other stories I had thought were abandoned but were really just another side of the coin so to speak.
Those of you who follow my progress on Twitter and Facebook know I’ve been writing for 50 days. What a gift. I wrote out every scene of the next 14 issues, including a proper ending, which will make your brain explode. Truly. Just wait for it. It’s going to be great. Drawing is weird though. Sometimes it flows. Sometimes it makes you wait.
But while you wait, don’t wait idly. Please, send me good vibes so it’s just what you need to read and soak in with your eyes. Pray for it to be as awesome as we all know it can be. Not the spiritual type? Why not vote for TREADWELL in the Aurora Awards? You still have about a month [I haven’t voted yet either, I get it]. Haha!! That would be encouraging.
I so want to show you the whole thing in its entirety but we’re not there yet. I know it’s weird to go from something new each year for the past 5 years to suddenly having to wait. Sure I could have created something shorter, say a hundred new pages a year, but that era is behind me, and in the future I’ll return to that model I’m sure, but right right now I just have to do this. To prove that I can. To break your brain.
So what can I tell you while you wait is this… okay I’ll tell you as much as I can… I swear.
I don’t know the exact number of pages because each issue has a slightly different page count. On top of that sometimes while I draw I combine pages. If my math is correct it will be between 750 and 800 pages [technically between 650 and 850 pages, so guessing about 750 to 800 is a good guess].
It should be 26 issues, with the final issue being a jumbo double sized issue. Page count of each issue ranges between 24 and 32 pages.
If it were to be made into a movie, it would be 2 or 3 films, depending on the director. I hope 3. Hey don’t laugh. I know a guy who knows a guy who knows people. You never know!
I already have two spin-off books planned if you can believe it. Each being 12 issues. If I draw everything I’ve planned that’s a whopping 50 issues! Ah!!! That’s roughly 1500 pages. But hey this is what I do. You never know!!
I have about 100 characters. All of them are powerful in their own way. I want to unite them again one day as a 100 card deck used as an oracle, like the Tarot or the I Ching. I have experience in such things. I’ve already imagined a video game adaptation. I know, I’m dreaming big with this one. But hey, I believe. You never know!!!
In fact I believe in this so much, and have figured out so many angles, and it’s been with me so long and is so complicated that I think it will be a pretty big deal. And it’s time has almost come…
For years I dreamed up the story, every year adding to the lore. And it’s become something that only a kid could dream up and only a grown-up could assemble.
It has elements of my favourite movies and comics, but it’s wholly its own thing. As time advances I have observed hints that similar ideas are emerging more and more frequently.
But not quite this. Not yet.
However if I don’t do it something like this will surely emerge in the future. I’m a fairly unique creator but I’m smart enough to know that these ideas I’ve assembled are out there for anyone to pick up on.
This particular combination, however, I have not seen yet. So I am still the teller of this tale. It remains original. I still have time.
But how much time? A year? 7 years? 50?? 100??? I’m aiming for 2 or 3.
Now if I told you what it was about, it would not do it justice and you’d connect the dots too easily. In the end it will be a complex tale told in as simple a manner as I can explain, but it will remain complex.
Lately, at night, when I sleep, I have the most elaborate dreams. When I wake up I’m overwhelmed and scared. It’s too much. Well so is this story, and that’s probably why I’m having these dreams.
But it all works out. It all makes sense. After working on a few dozen comics and creating some graphic novels, I have part of my brain rigged to figuring this stuff out. Don’t ask me to explain it, it’s just a faculty I’ve developed by trying to be both profound and direct while making funny books.
I don’t expect everyone to love it, but if you liked my past works there is something in here for you, and some of you will love it – a lot. Haha!
But as much as I took years to dream and to train, it’s time may come and I’m on it – like a wolf! So I’m drawing every chance I get, and writing when I need it.
I’ve never attempted anything this grand or insane, but tell yourself this, if it took 25+ years to get around to drawing it, it must be worth the wait.
What else can I tell you about it? Life. Life happened. When I was a kid I had meaningful characters but I did not know how important they were until I lived my own life. Until I really had something to say. Until they created a life full of surprises.
One such surprise was meeting Kevin Eastman at New York Comic Con a few years ago. He is, of course, co-creator of the Ninja Turtles, and he asked me to submit to his legendary magazine, Heavy Metal. It took me months to come up with a great story and the art was the best thing I’d ever done. He rejected it [with the note that the colours were beautiful], and it was a good thing that he did. When I mixed the concepts into my story it just started to sing, and I was off. This mixing of various stories must have happened a dozen times with half a dozen so-called ‘abandoned’ projects which were key to making this one work. At one point some characters melded one into another and it was like magic to discover that they’d been the same characters all along. Friends and lovers come in and out of your life, but your characters stay with you forever.
Your characters grow up. They go to school. They fall in love. They fall from great heights. They make mistakes along with you. Then they make good on their promise to turn things around and do good. They come to life and are there for you when the world seems hopeless.
And every stage in my life helped to create them.
I had, long ago, drawn one of my characters in a unique situation. I did not know what it was, I just knew what it looked like. So I drew it, right!? But it took 20 years before I figured out how this could come to pass. Now don’t get on my back that I should shut up and finish it. I set this story aside many times to give you other comics and graphic novels.
I gave you Ghost King and Treadwell and a 24 hour book, and I collaborated on a slew of others. I did things. They even looked like comics and graphic novels in every way. But this will be different, and, I hope, much much better. And I don’t especially care if it gets made into video games and movies, as long as I’ve done my work, I’ll be satisfied. Others can riff on it later if it’s as good as I hope it will be.
Let’s not forget the basic premise, here. I’m writing, drawing and designing this book so that one day you can read the whole thing. This, and the spin-offs, and hopefully many more after that. Graphic novels is my thing, and if there were no readers there would be no point. Sure I’d still make them regardless, but that’s only half the fun.
The other half is knowing that people read it, enjoyed it, cared enough to give me honest feedback, laugh at my stupid jokes, tell me their interpretation of the weird stuff I’ll put in there, recommend it to their friends, and the cycle starts all over again. And you will get that chance.
I will pitch it to a hundred companies if I have to, and I’ll self-publish it if I must. It will get to you one day. I promise.
But before I get back to drawing, here, I want you to know everything I can tell you about it, so let me press on, here…
You may ask... why 800 pages? How will you achieve this? Is it worth the wait?
Because I have that much story to tell and I would be cheating if I condensed it. Because I’ve wanted to do this since I was 11 years old. And yes it will be worth the wait. I swear, if it’s the last thing I do.
What will it look like when it’s done? It will fit snugly between Saga and Superman. It will feel like most any comic book out there, it will look like any full colour glossy series and then trade paperback, only at the end you’ll have read 800 pages and want more. But it’s not exactly your run of the mill superhero book though certainly there will be a touch of magic to it. It will be self contained, despite my ideas for a sequel. At this point I have no idea who will publish it. It could well be at the Big 3? Big 4!? Or another fine publisher. That’s future history and though I’m psychic sometimes I really have no idea. That too will be a surprise.
It is set in a fictitious city that is based on a real city. The people of this city inhabit an alternate country. This will all make sense in the end, and I’ve already told you too much. There are also lost cities. Way too much!
What else too much could I finally tell you?
How will you wait, knowing it might be great? So great that they will want to make cards and films and video games? So great you’ll want every issue and still buy the trade? So great you’ll lose sleep over it as I do!?
I don’t know, but you could follow my adventure in creating it. I regularly post my daily progress as much as I can via @DominicBercier on Twitter, follow me and I’ll try to follow back.
Still too long? Why not read some of the free books on http://www.mirrorcomics.com/library.html? Vote for me in the Aurora Awards and get tons of amazing reading material? Pray for me. Send me good vibes. Just. Wait. For it.
I’ll work as fast as I can and we’ll meet in the middle. This may be my life’s work but it doesn’t mean it literally has to take a lifetime. Heck I have at least 20 other projects I want to get to before I die.
But while I’m still alive I’ll work as well and as efficiently as I can. I’ll make the best graphic novels possible.
And perhaps you’ll read them, and perhaps you won’t, but I’ll make them regardless, perhaps for future generations to enjoy if this one passes on it.
I know that in time it will find its audience, and I’m writing for each and every reader, I’m drawing for people to see it in their heads. I’m busting my ass to create a virtual storyboard to a movie that would surely cost millions to make.
Its memory will stay with you forever. Amazing powers. Beautiful drawings. And a story that makes you go ‘huh?’ more than once and then blows your mind in the end. Twill be grand.
But I’ve told you all I can for now. Time to either sleep or draw, now, they are two sides of a coin these days. Wish me luck!!
Here we go…
Ottawa, Canada... :)
This is the blog of writer-artist-designer-author Dominic Bercier, MCS principal and founder.