A long, long time ago,
I know that photograph isn't great, but in the top corner of the page is the title of the story: Babble.
Jump forward to around 2007, and I'm trying to make a name for myself in the world of comics, starting with the UK small press scene. I ended up cannibalising that prose story (or what I had of it, because it wasn't complete) for a short comic strip that became the first version of Babble. The lead changed to a female, new characters were introduced and relationships established - and, more surprising than anything was that it was accepted for an anthology.
By that, I mean it was accepted for an anthology, but I ended up pulling it and taking it somewhere else when it was clear nothing was happening with it. It was accepted again for another anthology, but, again, there was no action on it (as much as I'd like to put that original script out there for the world to see, I've been advised against it, and it's advice I'm heeding). I was told, by a friend, sadly no longer with us, to keep the story and not sell it out right. And that was one of the best pieces of advice I've ever had.
Around 2007/2008, I worked with Bryan Coyle for the first time. After a couple of successful collaborations, we started kicking around ideas for something longer to work on together and Babble came back to the front of my mind. We re-tooled the original story, broke it down into its separate parts and rebuilt it.
I'm going to cheat here and link you to this interview we did with Comic Book Resources and the potted history piece I did for Bleeding Cool, rather than dive into the whole sordid history of the book again. They detail the history of Babble in more depth and give you a feel of the weird, twisting story of what we had to go through to get the book published.
But, published it was in 2013, thanks to Com.X, when they decided to take a chance on it, and us. For those of you who don't know, the story of Babble is an apocalyptic tale that centres around Carrie Hartnoll, a working class English girl who, feeling lost and disconnected with her own life, leaves for a new job and a new start in Ivy League America. She joins a research team looking into the language of Babel, but she soon discovers - SPOILERS! - the language is a weaponised meme, designed to spread through speech.
When the reviews for Babble started to roll in, I think it's fair to say we were bowled over by the positive reaction it garnered, and the sheer number of reviews that gave it a thumbs up (there's a reason we keep referring to is as "critically acclaimed", and it's the 20+ positive reviews we garnered from all over the comics press). In 2013, Bryan was nominated for the Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award for his work on the book. All in all, it's a thing everyone involved with was - and is! - damn proud of.
Cut to 2014 and we have the release of Memetic #1 from Boom! Studios, an apocalyptic story about a weaponsied meme that centres around a young lead character feeling disconnected from the world around him...
Reading the first issue of Memetic got me thinking about Alan Moore's "idea space" thing, where he posits there's a place that exists outside of us, which all humans have access to, and can pluck ideas from.
But, what if, with Babble, we've inadvertently infected the idea space with a meme of our own creation? What if, when we plucked the story threads from there, we actually left something behind without realising it? With Memetic out there in the world, will it spread the meme further and inspire another creative team to tell a similar story?
What have we started...?
Memetic #1, by James Tynion IV and Eryk Donovan is out now at your LCS or via Comixology.
Babble by me and Bryan Coyle is also available from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Comixology and ComicsPlus.
You can see the exclusive trailer for Babble here: