One day, in Verona, New Jersey, over four years ago, Colin found out that Joe hadn’t read any comics. Ever.
Colin was dumbfounded by his discovery, but Joe insists he should’ve known better, as Joe has historically been a late bloomer. He thought “cooties” were real until 11th grade biology, and didn’t learn how to tie his shoes until velcro stopped being a thing.
As any decent friend would do, Colin chucked a bunch of comic books at Joe’s head. The most necessary being Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, and the heaviest being a tie between Jeff Smith’s Bone and Craig Thompson’s Habibi. When Joe regained consciousness, Colin was singing, “making comics, making comics, la-la-la.”*
*to the tune of "Making Christmas" from The Nightmare Before Christmas
You see, Colin was sitting on an idea for a story.
He intended it to be short, and mostly experimental with the basic hopes of figuring out the process and industry. "It'll be a sweet little story, around 120 pages, we can have it done in a year and then move on to another story," proposed Colin with a smile.
"I don't think that'll be long enough to tell the story right," replied Joe.
"I guess... maybe we could push it to 150, 170 max." The smile was fading.
"We don't want to rush it, we're gonna need 300 pages at least."
Four years later they find themselves with a story that could call for over a thousand pages of content. This was Joe's fault. As it is often stated in the resentful mutterings coming from Colin's studio.
Joe, however, smiles every time he hears or tells this story, because while the small project has grown into a massive, sprawling epic, Joe happens to love massive, sprawling epics! Especially ones with whimsy!
And Joe swears that nobody creates whimsy like Colin. In fact, if Willy Wonka was an illustrator and not a candyman, he and Colin would probably hang out together, drawing pictures on the ceiling after sippin’ on the ol’ fizzy lifting drink.
(We’re obviously talking about the heartwarming, fantastic Gene Wilder (RIP) version, not the terrifying Johnny Depp.)
So Colin and Joe collaborated on the story, crafting characters and weaving plotlines. Many nights were spent flying awake, so to speak, with multi-colored Post-It notes on the walls indicating individual character arcs. It was a feverish time. Colin went crazy, nearly retiring his brushes and moving to Argentina. Joe gave up religion and started listening to more of The Beatles.
And then BAM. It was time.
Enough content had been created that two chapters of Spirits could be made. But how were they to make it?
Kickstarter and Print Ninja, that’s how.
After the 30 most nerve wracking days of their lives, Colin and Joe raised over $8000 from many amazing individuals on Kickstarter. This allowed them to contract Print Ninja for the first and only ever printing of ‘The Early Chapters’ of Spirits: The Soul Collector, and to table at comic conventions all around the country.
If it weren’t for that opportunity, Colin and Joe would have never met Tom Akel, the Director of Content for LINE Webtoons. He just-so-happened to have bought a copy of The Early Chapters at a convention, loved it, and wanted to publish it.
So, two years after illustrating The Early Chapters, Colin sat down and began redrawing Spirits, this time in color and with Webtoons' vertical scroll in mind. He also taught Joe how to assist with the coloring and lettering. Their teamwork has evolved to the point where they even write it together, at the same time, on the same computer. Colin uses his right hand, Joe uses his left. While Colin has access to the ‘delete’ and ‘enter’ keys, Joe’s unruly left hand has access to the ‘caps lock’ key and underused tilda. This has produced unexpECTED AND EXCITING results~
Today, Colin and Joe are living across the country, in Portland, Oregon, and are making Spirits for the masses!