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Follically Challenged Productions Presents:


“We don’t go on because we’re ready, we go on because its 11:30.” – Lorne Michaels

“They've shifted the tilt of the earth. The stupid, crazy, irresponsible bastards! They've finally done it!” – The Day The Earth Caught Fire 

Here’s some truth: you don’t front-load your column with quotes like that unless you feel a sense of accomplishment. It’s pretentious in any event, but if you can deliver a story that provides at least a little bit of justification for such a display, you might just slip by the more discerning readers and their raised eyebrows. Lucky for me you people don’t pay attention, or I might be in real trouble here.

Honestly, though, I do feel like we pulled something off last week, so please pardon me if I feel compelled to take up my column space with a little virtual victory dance. And when I say “we,” I mean fellow comic creators Eric Trautmann, Mirco Pierfederici, David Messina and myself, with some additional support from Jessica Blackshear and Andrew Chard.

My collaborators and I celebrated Free Comic Book Day by offering up a 6-page “chapter zero” of our new webcomic serial, “Wide Awake.” It was an eleventh-hour decision supported by guerilla marketing tactics and (literally) last-minute website design. There was no safety net, no editor, no support from a sponsor and nothing even resembling a clue as to what we were really doing. Somehow, we pulled it off and the Internet got its first taste of our new project.

We were surprised by the reaction to say the least.

Within 24 hours of the launch -- with a minimum of news sites picking up the press release and not much else to point people towards the site besides Facebook posts and good old-fashioned word of mouth – we were hearing from new fans and watching our website traffic increase considerably by the hour. I had conversations with three different publishers who were all interested in print editions and additional web presence, and those conversations are still in progress. Other forms of media floated into our view as well. Everyone had something to say – and none of it was bad.

Here’s another truth: this is all pretty scary stuff to me. I think we have a great piece of work here, and we’re all 100% dedicated to keeping it going…but we’re also operating solely under our own steam and out of our own pockets. It’s a nerve-wracking leap to make, but our feet are already dangling out the side door of the plane at 30,000 feet. I guess we’re doing it, eh?

I can’t say enough about my collaborators. Eric and I share one evil, twisted brain between us, and it makes for a fantastic creative pairing. I hope I’m co-writing with him until I can’t see well enough to type out these insane scripts anymore. As a bonus, we’ve finally reached that crucial point in our relationship where we only want to kill each other in brief flashes of anger that are usually resolved by a well-timed “yo mama” joke.

David and Mirco seem to have a similar dynamic, and it works perfectly. David is playing art director (and cover coordinator) with Mirco handling the art and colors for the actual series. They’re helping us turn our central character Amanda Carter into a tough, beautiful woman that everyone can recognize and relate to.

You might not think that two Americans and two Italians, separated by an ocean and native languages, could pull something like this off, but we’re really finding our groove. It’s amazing. We’re like a cultural exchange program over here.

Jessica Blackshear runs the website, and changes are happening almost every day. It’s trial and error. She’s constantly looking for new answers and solutions while Eric and I make new demands and often change our minds in time with the second hand on the clock.

Andrew Chard has the truly unfortunate task of assisting Eric in his labors. I don’t know Andrew well, but I’m learning quickly that he does great, efficient work and seems to be a pretty genial fellow. I’ll definitely testify for the defense when he’s on trial for murdering Eric.

Eric’s wife Gabi deserves a tip of the hat as well, if only for her undying patience and unrelenting love of comic books in general. She definitely helped make the case for us jumping into the Great Unknown with this project, and I appreciate the hell out of that little kick in the hindquarters.

Can you believe that I’ve talked this much without throwing out the URL for the webcomic? I’m a terrible promoter, clearly! I suppose I should wrap this up and let the work speak for itself; please check it out and let us know what you think.



Brandon Jerwa 

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