How ’bout that?
Tatters combines elements from the science fiction, Gothic, and political thriller genres to tell the story of an amnesiac drifter named Peter Collinson who makes some high-powered deep state players nervous as he struggles to recover his past with only haunting memories and what might just be the ghost of his real identity to guide him.
Sound cool? Want to know more?
That said, the reason I’ve gathered you all here today — besides hyping our graphic novel — is to give you a peak into what might have been for Tatters if things had only turned out a little bit differently.
You see, two years after originally releasing Tatters, Caliber’s publisher, Gary Reed, asked Aldin and I if we would consider adapting our graphic novel into a series for a shared Caliber Universe. We liked the idea, however, by this time, Aldin had transitioned into animation and storyboards and was too busy to accept, but gave his blessing for me to adapt Tatters as I saw fit.
To work in the CU, however, the new Tatters needed to be set in the present (the graphic novel takes place in 2050) and each story had to run as a four-issue mini-series. These were easy fixes, but Gary also asked if I’d give the new incarnation of Tatters a mask. Again, no problem, but I knew for a fact that Gary hated masks. I always meant to ask him the reason for this change, but kept forgetting.
Anyway, I got busy writing scripts while Gary handled finding artists, and he found one heck of a penciller with Jason Yungbluth (Mad Magazine, This is Deep Fried). Jason’s early concept sketches hit just the right shadowy and intense note, even when he inserted the occasional funny comment or sent me a piece of joke art to lampoon the series like in the accompanying examples. I love sarcastic, self-effacing humor, and so does Jason. Life is too short to take yourself too seriously.
Things only got better when Jason’s pencil pages for the first issue arrived in the mail. I was thrilled how he took my script and ran with it. Somehow Jason topped himself with the second issue, and as I started looking forward to seeing how issue three was going to look, I let myself think we might just have something special on our hands.
“Look out Image Comics! Here comes Tatters!”
Rather my premonition was right or not, the world will never know. The late Nineties was a tough time for the comics industry. After enjoying nearly-unprecedented success for over a decade, sales had been plummeting for almost fives years with no correction in sight, which played a big part in Gary cancelling his CU plans, and, with them, the Tatters reboot.
However, I could never shrug my shoulders and just file the new Tatters away. I keep copies of Jason’s concept sketches and two issues in my convention portfolio, and, when I show them, people almost always react positively. I also incorporate them in the comics writing class I teach and include a few of the sketches and pages in my book Comics Writing: Communicating with Comic Books, but with each passing year the odds the four-issue story ever being completed seems more remote. Now, with the relaunch of the original graphic novel, I would like to finally share all of Jason’s wonderful pencil work with you.
Clicking on the links below will take you to Jason’s concept sketches and the pencils for issues one and two. There is also a link of three pages Aldin drew from the reboot’s second issue script, which provides an interesting take on how these two artists handled the same material.