Over on the ol' Kickstarter, mate and - dare I say it? - one of my favourite collaborators in the comics game, Alfie Gallagher is running a campaign for a collection of short stories, all drawn by him, called Debris.

Alfie bullied sweet talked me - and a bunch of others, including Ryan K. Lindsay, Martin Hayes and Fraser Campbell - into writing something for the collection.

Even though I'll pretty much step into the breach any time Alfie asks me to come and work with him, this time, I was a little reluctant. Without getting into too much detail, I was going through a bit of a rough time personally when Alfie approached me, and doing anything creative felt like a slog that I could've done without. I managed to write The Devil's Breath for Aces Weekly, which was a big step in getting back into the writing saddle after what felt like a long time away, but doing the story for Debris was what helped me rediscover the simple joy I take in writing.

Other than a page count, Alfie pretty much gave me free reign to do pitch him whatever I wanted for the collection, and after a couple of false starts, I finally nailed it - and wrote one of my favourite pieces in the process.

The strip, "How Long...?", is only four pages long, and is a kinda/sorta a companion piece to a prose story I wrote ages ago, 10 Miles.

I'm a bit of a fan of 70's road movies, I have to confess. The imagery they use to tell their stories is just endlessly beautiful to me, and the idea of just taking off and driving through the deserts in America has long been a dream of mine - the sheer freedom of being able to just take off, to head along those long highways and see where they'll take you without any kind of plan or inkling of where you might end up is something I've been fascinated with ever since seeing Vanishing Point when I was younger.

10 Miles and "How Long...?" are the only times - so far - I've tried to capture that idea and put it on the page. With the former, it's all about the internal landscape of the narrator, but with "How Long...?" it's all about the visuals.

My gut instinct was to try and come up with a story that would play to Alfie's strengths as an artist. Anyone that's familiar with his work knows he kind of leans toward the psychedelic, for want of a better word - the trippier the imagery the better. So, I pitched him a couple of ideas that would - hopefully - pop visually, but they didn't connect with him.

So, I tried again.

As I said, I was going through a rough time, and I was having thoughts about just...taking off. Going somewhere and starting life over. The idea - the romantic idea of it - kinda stuck and I couldn't shake it, but it collided with the whole thing about trying to put a story together for Alfie and formed a basis for what I eventually pitched.

I realised it wouldn't have the visuals of the other things I'd sent, so I was surprised when Alfie said yes to it.

I only had four pages to play with, and I was never sure if the story would work. On top of that, I had to keep in mind that this was a showcase for Alfie's work, not mine, so I decided to strip everything back and keep it as tight and lean as I could, and let the visuals speak.

I have to come clean here and admit that I've only seen little snippets of the other stories from Debris, but - and, yeah, I'm biased, obviously - but Alfie really does something special with "How Long...?". The art captures the feel I was trying to convey in the script - cinematic in scope that also gives you a creeping sense of loneliness being out on the road - but also brings a sense of realism to it; you feel as if you can reach into the pages and touch the old, dilapidated buildings.

But, I think, it's the colouring that really sets the story apart.

Alfie - colouring this one himself - utilises a palette that matches that of a road movie, capturing the faded look of a time gone by. The washed out feeling of the environment, the tired and scruffy look of the characters is nailed beautifully.

The Kickstarter is over half-way funded as I type this, and I'd dearly love to see it printed. You can, if you so wish, back the project from as little as £1. I'm really proud of this little story, and I'd love to see it out in the world.

And if that wasn't enough incentive for you, all backers will be receiving a free PDF of Future Tense, a mini collection, featuring two of my previous collaborations with Alfie!

So, get on it, people!
Debris Debris Reviewed by Lee on 10:30 am Rating: 5
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