Wannabe Press, the online comics distributor responsible for the wonderfully insane Ichabod Jones, has taken up the task of presenting the entire Fiction Clemens graphic novel free to the public for the first time.
“There’s so much joy, such love of life and energy in this book, it positively made my heart dance.” –Comics Bulletin
Fiction Clemens was originally published in 2008 by Ape Entertainment, but the character and concept go back to the last millennium.
And I must confess, I did not invent my hero’s name…
It was around 1998 when my good friend and musical collaborator Christian Olson came running up to me, breathless, and insisted that I write a story about a character named Fiction Clemens. “The name’s yours,” he said. “Make me proud.” So I went straight home and kicked out some very weird fiction, which later essentially translated to the opening scene of issue one in which Fic walks into a bar in on a desert alien planet. Folks start talking to him in bizarre colloquialisms and all he can say in reply is, “Yup” or “Nope.” This four-page story made very little sense to anyone who read it, but Christian loved it and a few homeless artists camped out at the river even called it “the new poetry,” so I decided this Fiction guy must be destined for a thing or two.
A year later I put Fiction Clemens in my first novel, “The Adventures of the Imagination of Periphery Stowe,” as a side character, where he and his partner Dune Trixie are universe-hopping space adventurers. They’re sort of like Han Solo and Chewie to the book’s young hero, Riggs Bombay, providing him safe passage into the world of the Mind.
When I decided to tell Fiction’s origin story I originally wrote it as a screenplay. Some friends and I put together a fake trailer for the film, and started looking for storyboard artists. I found “the one” on Digital Webbing.
Joiton is a ridiculously talented artist from Argentina, who, despite knowing very little english at the time, was somehow able to translate my script perfectly into exactly the sort of visual layout I wanted. In 2004 his early pages ended up in the hands of the lovely and talented comics editor Lauren Perry (then with Silent Devil), who vowed to find Fic a home.
After putting out a call for colorists we ended up with three I couldn’t choose between, so I gave them each an issue. Alejandro (Alek) Marmontel got book 1, Veronica Gandini got book 2, and Nico Pena took book 3. Veronica has since gone on to color for Mice Templar and a variety of Marvel titles. The other guys are still out there creating some of the most brilliantly outrageous illustrations in the business. They wrapped production in about a year and Ape Entertainment published the book shortly thereafter.
To pay my artists I sold character likenesses. If you helped fund us, you got to pick a character whose looks would then be based on your very own mug. I raised half of the production money that way. Most of the characters you see in these pages have human counterparts out there in the “real” world.
Wannabe launched Fiction Clemens online today, posting the first 20 pages from the book. Another 20 go up next Monday. From then on it will be a page a week until the story’s chaotic conclusion.
Fiction Clemens has often been squeezed into the genre world as a “psychedelic sci-fi western.” It’s the story of an old west-type world resistant to progress and technology, and a cosmic conspiracy to drag the world onward regardless. It’s also a story of friendship, a messed-up karmic love triangle, and a man of few words.
If Fic sounds like your cup of tea, start reading it for free here. With each panel you can think to yourself, “I’m paying nothing, I’m stealing nothing. I must be living in the dawn of a new egalitarian age of openness and trust, of confidence and community. The future is my geoduck!”
PRAISE FOR FICTION CLEMENS
“A futuristic western meets Alice in Wonderland or perhaps OZ, and that really doesn’t do the overall insanity of the book justice…There’s nothing quite like Fiction Clemens on the market.” –Newsarama
“The comedy is laugh out loud and the characters fascinating. The story itself kicks off with a bang and hardly ever relents.” –Broken Frontier
“[Fiction Clemens] is something fresh, hilarious and entertaining, exactly the kind of quirky project the non-major comic publishers should be offering us, and the kind of story that makes reading comics worthwhile.” –CHUD.com