You’ve probably been “creased.” Trust us. You have been.
You probably don’t know what that means, yet, but writer/artist Daniel Miller will be releasing an original graphic novel (OGN) in November from Image Comics, entitled “Creased,” that’ll let you know… you’ve been creased. Miller took some time out of his busy day to speak with CBR News and explained what to expect in the book.
“‘Creased’ was inspired by real events that happened over the course of two or so years while I was in art school,” explained Miller. “I’d finally broken onto the dating scene- it was awesome. Definitely worth trying to date over and over without fear of failure.”
The title of the book comes from Miller’s college experiences and he presents a sample situation of being creased. “Mostly, cool names and such, at least in my experience come from college. Also true with ‘Creased.’ My roommate and I were, and still are, pretty nice guys, as far as guys go. So, we had lots of friends (girls) that we were with all the time, we couldn’t date any of them. The jocks would even accuse us of hoarding women [laughs]. One day my roomy gathered enough gumption to ask a girl out. She declined, stating that she still had a BF back home, but were she ever to date someone at school it would be him (my roomy). They kept hanging out as friends, soon after she started dating some other guy at school, some seemingly random dude, my roommate was ‘creased.’
“When making up phrases, it’s hard to come up with a concrete definition, so you’ll have to forgive me for the long anecdote. There is, however, the stipulation that women don’t get creased, but that’s a hotly debated topic.”
Miller is quick to add that the book is only semi-auto biographical and the reason isn’t because he’s worried about offending people- he just doesn’t remember some details. “I don’t keep a journal so many details escaped. The addition of the elaborate dream sequences is fictional as well. I used them to dramatize inner conflicts that I had during the relationship, sort of.”
Basing a story on real life events is never easy because of the sheer amount of ideas to somehow turn into a linear story, but Miller had a specific plan of attack for his debut OGN. “I’d never done a complete story before, so the creative process this time was very important as it would determine how and if I worked in the future. First I made an outline of the events in chronological order. Then I looked at what I had and pulled out the natural story breaks, that’s how the book became three chapters. I was happy with three. Next I began taking the outline to the bar where I worked security (checking IDs) and did thumbnails. The thumbs were fairly detailed and some even got blown up to trace as real pages.
“It wasn’t necessarily hard to bring the book to life’ per se. When it’s autobiographical, the events already exist more or less. All I had to do was draw it. There was a lack of time though, what with all my jobs and all. Moving to NY was a serious boost though. I got something like 60-70 pages done very quickly because I couldn’t find work for like 9 months. That left ample time for ‘Creased.'”
With respect to Miller and all creators working on “true stories,” it seems almost cliché to be telling a “slice of life” story and Miller is aware of inevitable comparisons. “Ahhhh, slice of life books…well, for me, I really wanted to draw comics, but I wasn’t able to find work so I had to generate it myself. Which meant writing my own story, and writers have to write what they know. I know how to get ‘creased.’ As far as standing apart, initially it was not a concern. Writing a personal story automatically makes it somewhat unique. Enough guys get creased everyday the path to the crease tends to be very interesting. There are millions of ways to get creased.”
The most recent notable of the true-life stories is undoubtedly Craig Thompson’s “Blankets,” which debuted in 2003 at the Comic-Con International in San Diego and has been a fan favorite since then, generating tremendous mainstream press. “‘Blankets’ is an 800lb gorilla,” laughs Miller. “I was damn near done w/ ‘Creased’ when I finally read ‘Blankets.’ I remember thinking, ‘this is my book only better, or at least longer.’ Craig Thompson got creased, and if you’ve read his travel book you know that creases can be permanent. I can’t say I feel pressure to compete w/ ‘Blankets,’ my goal was to get published and maybe generate more work. And since I had jobs through most of it I don’t have to worry about making a ton of money from it now that it’s done.”
“Creased” has been marketed by Image as a book about how love can go wrong and Miller says the theme is so universal because that is, frankly, the way the cookie crumbles. “Saying that love can go wrong is like saying water is wet,” he explains. “Life has no guarantees especially with emotional stuff. It’s hard to find and maintain relationships because it should be…it’s more appreciated that way, I think. I’m all about appreciating things- the guys that don’t get creased are more likely to take things for granted.”
Proving he’s a double threat to fans, Miller is also illustrating “Creased” and reveals the influences that shaped him. “The style is somewhat cartoony I guess, I wanted it to be easily read but it also suited the subject and the style of writing. I taught myself a couple of new tricks on this book, too. I drew the pages smaller than standard because I figured I didn’t have to follow any rules if I didn’t have a book deal. I also drew the pages out of order just in case I got burned out towards the end of the book, (which never happened). So I’d do blocks of 5-10 pages in all different sections of the book.
“As far as influences go, there are a lot of guys whose work I dig for different reasons. I like Sean Phillips, Duncan Fegredo, Allred, Clowes, Tomine,Bill Waterson, Mignola, old Frank Miller, Kevin Knowlan, and of course Bernie Wrightsson. I have a funny story about him, which illustrates why getting into comics is hard. I went to editor’s day at my school and showed color work and drawing to maybe land some freelance stuff. The editors said my stuff was ok, but no one seemed interested in what I could do with their characters if given the chance. I wasn’t broken hearted. I knew it just meant I had to work harder, which I was willing to do, for comics.
“Anyway that night there was a slide show/ panel discussion. My professors picked a couple of my pages for the show to maybe discuss and give pointers etc. It was a panel of all the editors, DC, Darkhorse and artists like Wrightson, Schultz (who I forgot to mention as another fav), Stelfreeze etc. My pages came up, and editors commented that they’d met me yadda yadda, then silence…Bernie Wrightson finally spoke ‘this kid is a genius!’ He then went on to explain himself and he pointed out things that I’d done and the decisions that I’d made and eventually the editors concurred. Three or four kids from my class got jobs that year, but I was not one of them and yet my stuff was talked about for the rest of the year. I felt good, that told me that even if I never get hired by an editor, I can still earn the respect of my peers.
“My next editor’s day went better, I didn’t get a job but I got lots of love from other artists. I showed some stuff to Jimmy Palmiotti and told him I wanted to get some coloring work, but that I also wanted to draw at some point. He closed my book and said ok, let me see some of your drawings, I said you just looked at them I colored my own stuff. He said, ‘Fuck coloring, you should be drawing a book.’ It was very flattering, but I still needed to prove that I could finish a book and ‘Creased’ is that book. I couldn’t imagine anyone else drawing this book, why would they want to?”
While this is Miller’s first big comic work, expect his ambition to lead him into other genres and work with companies, as he explains, “I can definitely see doing more comics in the future, I want to raise the bar for myself. I want to work on comics that I’d want to read.”
If you’re on the fence about “Creased,” priced affordably at $9.95 and being released in time for a winter holiday gift, Miller has a few more words that he hopes will convince you to try his work. “Although ‘Creased’ is my first solo book the material was field tested on the public so to speak. Every time someone asks me if that really happened after hearing this story it reassures me that it’s a good story to tell. Some people still don’t believe it. That’s why they should read the book, decide if it’s true or if I’m a liar, because honestly a well told lie is almost better than a true story any day.”