To Infinity… and Back!

I came up with the idea of Kayless a good 10 years before I did anything about it.

I’ve been reading superhero comics since I was 14, and Peanuts strips for years before that, but the idea of doing a comic book of my own never entered my mind.

I was a screenwriter by that time. This meant I was looking through a storytelling lens that included things like selling pitches to executives (something I have never tried, or needed to), or trying to keep production costs low enough so my friends and I could make it ourselves, without swerving into lame territory. That has worked fine when my ideas included someone embracing the call to adventure in an office environment, or a neighborhood baseball diamond, or a house that looks suspiciously like the one I now reside in. Not so much outer space. I dropped it.

The idea about astronauts who crash land on another planet, and receive powers beyond those of mortal men (or whoever resides on said planet), continued to intrigue me.

The Superman story is one of my favorites, particularly since it’s so grounded in its own time. A kid from another planet crash-lands in perhaps the most wholesome of earthly paradises … Kansas. And I mean the Kansas that lived firmly in the minds of family-value-loving Americans in the first half of the 1900s (I’ve been through the real Kansas; I just remember it being hot and grassy). So … what if he’d crashed somewhere else? Or crashed there today, in our current era of government skepticism, health anxiety and terrorism fears? What if he’d been a she? What if he’d been a them? The possibilities were endless.

A couple of years ago, the idea resurrected itself again. I find this to be true of several of my ideas; they’re like ghosts that need to get their due before shuffling off to whatever afterlife ideas go to.  And I thought … what about comics?

Comics writing is much more forgiving than screenwriting. I wrote an article for on the subject – you can find it elsewhere on my website. I’ll sum it up by saying, nobody cares what your comic script looks like, except the artists who are drawing it for you. It’s not so much about collaborating as it is about pure story creation. So I downloaded some scripts from some of my favorite creators, and got to work.

Then, just a couple weeks later, a friend asked me if I had any interest in comics writing. I hadn’t spoken to anyone about it until then, nor was I wearing a t-shirt saying, “Write Comics Now! I Wanna Know How!!” So why he asked is still a mystery to me, although I consider it a sign God had my back there. Anyway, that’s how I got to know Roland Mann, former Malibu comics editor, creator of the comic Cat and Mouse, and instructor at Full Sail University.

We started meeting at a Japanese restaurant in Winter Park, and just talking about comics. Roland had been behind the scenes back in the ‘80s, and knew some of my favorite creators personally. It was a lot of fun. Then one day I told him I wanted to try it myself. “Do it! I’ll talk you through it!” he said. Roland is a very can-do kind of guy.

And I started really thinking through Kayless. Astronauts arriving on another planet, with new powers … great! Except, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like the idea had already been done.

But, in the midst of it, a new question began to poke at my brain whenever I thought about it: What if the astronauts returned to Earth after their space adventure. What would they do then?

Suddenly, there were questions that I had to answer. Why would they leave Earth in the first place? Wherever it was they ended up, why would they leave? And what would they do once they got back to Earth? You know you’ve struck gold as a writer when a story unfolds in your mind and you don’t know the answers, but you know they’re out there. Suddenly, you’re in a race with yourself, trying to find out what happened, what will happen, and perhaps the oldest question of them all, What Does It All Mean? You dig for the answers, so excited for the day you can go back and tell your friends, “You’ll never guess what I found!”

I started showing Roland scripts at the Japanese restaurant. He very graciously pointed out the rough parts, and how to fix them. He walked me through how to find artists. And then, one day, he told me he was starting up a publishing venture he had been sitting on for some time, calling it Silverline Comics. Would I be interested in having Kayless be published by Silverline? I thought it sounded like a good idea, and since I had no more ideas, we went for it. Roland marketed Kayless #1 in June of 2019, through, which is pretty common for indie comics publishers. We raised over 200% of our goal. We wrapped up the Kickstarter for issue #2 in March of 2020, again doubling our goal.

So it looks like I’ll be doing Kayless for a while. It’s slow going, but I don’t mind. The story continues to change under me, like hurricanes changing the topography of a coastal town … and each time I love it more. Comics is a storytelling medium that’s so unique and fun, I’m already working on other ideas that I hope to roll out in another year or so. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy!