If it was a comic book, it would be in mint condition. Although designed to be a workbook, Jeremy Mace’s The Official Marvel Comic Try-Out Book is in pristine condition after almost 30 years.
“I got it in 1983 when I was 10 years old,” said Mace, a North Augusta graphic designer who owns NewFire Media and has been working on his own comic book for a couple of years.
Mace has always loved comic books. His favorite superheroes are Superman and Captain America, but he tends to follow certain writers of series rather than the hero himself. But it was the try-out book that changed his thinking about comics and sparked a fire in him to create his own.
“I realized that somebody makes these,” he said.
The book showed him the step-by-step process of creating a comic, from the development of a script, plot and characters to the pencil-and-ink work of the lettering. Of course, times and processes have changed since that first try-out book was issued in 1983, but the impact of that book on Mace’s life hasn’t.
When he was 19, he borrowed some money from his grandparents and put six comics together. But, he admits, he wasn’t ready for the big time.
“They were really bad,” he said. “I published them and went to some conventions.”
In the last 20 years he has worked on his craft and developed his writing skills to create his own comic.
Mace is the writer of The Chronicles of Professor Isosceles and The Saving of Mr. Creep, which he calls a period piece with an early 1970s feel.
“I want it to feel like it was a discovered comic in someone’s garage,” he said.
Mr. Creep is an aging villain, and the story focuses on his choice between redemption or the inevitable ending he will face if he continues to follow his dark path.
Mace has contracted with an artist to design the characters in his comic. His concept is available online at www.savingmistercreep.com. The next phase will be to work with the artist to translate his story into the frames of a comic.
Mace isn’t the only area resident with dreams of commercial comic book success. Donnie Watson, a creative writing major at Augusta State University, has also been developing a comic book series.
Watson started dabbling in writing comic books in the fifth grade, he said. He’s been writing his Freaks of Nature series and developing a relationship with an artist for about two years.
“My comic is basically about a group of people and each one has some sort of ability that they almost tapped into when they were younger but lost it when they were growing up,” he said. “There is one guy who draws it out of them.”
Watson’s central hero is college-age.
“I want to personalize it as much as possible,” he said.
Breaking into the comic book industry is tough, said Mace and Watson.
The big two, Marvel and DC, still dominate the market. According to Diamond Comic Book Distributors, www.diamondcomics.com, Marvel and DC combined held almost 65 percent of the retail market share in comic books in July, with Image Comics coming in third with 9 percent.
The best thing for hopeful comic book writers and artists is to publish a series of works on their own, said Mace. A handful of exemplary writers will eventually have their works seen by the big two, and they are then given a shot at writing a short series based on well-known characters.
But for now, Watson and Mace continue to get their products ready.
“I’d like to finish in the next two months,” said Watson. “I definitely want to finish before the year is over.”