PREVIOUSLY: LIFE UNDERWATER by J.R. LeMar and Samax Amen
Today I’m doing a little spotlight on one of my other original comic-strips. This one has it’s roots in a children’s book that I wrote back in 2004, called THE LEFT-HANDERS. It was about five 11-year old kids from wildly different walks of life who seemingly have nothing in common other than the fact that they’re left-handed. One day in school each one ends up getting into trouble for something and is forced to stay after school for detention for a week. And during these detention episodes, they eventually get to know each other and become friends, learning a valuable lesson about not judging people, yadda yadda yadda, you know the drill. I even had some concept art done by my friend KEITH HOWELL.
Great work! The little Black girl in front is Brianna, and she was based on a real-life person, my Godsister, Brianna. And I let her know at the time that she was going to be a character in my book. Well, I sent the book out to multiple publishers and it got rejected by them all, and that was that. I’ve always thought I might return to the concept someday, rewrite the book and try again. I even got some more concept art later, this time from Celina Hernandez, I had her draw the kids individually, here was her take on Brianna:
But I never got around to it. And then when I started doing my comic-strips last year and was showing some of them to Brianna, I thought about possibly basing a comic-strip character on her, in order to follow through on my promise to use “her” in one of my stories. But I wasn’t sure about the premise. It took a while until I came up with the idea of something that would basically be my take on the classic comic-strip Dennis The Menace. Except I noticed that the thing about Dennis, both in the strip and various other adaptations, is that he was never really an outright “menace,” was he? He was just sort of mischievous. He wasn’t a bad kid, he just couldn’t seem to stay out of trouble.
Well, I was going to take the concept of a “menacing” kid, and play it to the hilt. Brianna would be an evil little brat who belies her adorable appearance. The strip’s unofficial tagline is “Meet Brianna, an adorable little 11 year old girl with all the warmth of Joseph Stalin.” And an early title was going to be BRIANNA THE BRAT, or possible BRIANNA THE BEAST. But then the title just came to me, I was thinking of the Chris Rock sitcom EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS, and decided to switch it around to BRIANNA HATES EVERYBODY.
So I had my concept, now I just needed some strip story ideas. And I immediately came up with three, and contacted Celina so we could get started on them. Starting with:
I was impressed with how, totally unprompted from me, Celina came up with an new art-styple for this strip, so that it differentiates from our other collaboration, BOSS FROM HELL.
I will confess that when it came time to post this online I started to have second thoughts and wondered if perhaps I should have made the other little girl in this strip Black too, to avoid any unfortunate racial connotations? I didn’t want anyone thinking that Brianna was smacking the girl because she’s White. Trust me, that’s not my intention. As the title says, Brianna hates everybody. She may be an evil mini-demon, but she’s not a racist! But in the end, I decided to leave it as is. And I think it came out nice.
I was never that happy with this one. The punchline isn’t particularly funny.
This one was a little better.
But this was all I had for a while. I was originally going to stop at just these three. But after finishing them, Celina seemed to like drawing this character. And when I shared the strips with my Godsister, she also enjoyed them and having this character named after her (she’s not mean in real life, though). So I thought about doing more. And at the time I was planning to switch the posting on my site and instead of rotating strips each week, I would do one strip for an entire month. So I needed one more in order to be able to post a new Brianna Hates Everybody strip each week for a month, and I eventually came up with this:
This is my 2nd favorite strip, after the first one. I brought back the little White girl, and named her Becky, and introduced an Asian boy named Colin (who is also based on a real life person, my Godbrother Colin – no relation to Brianna). I figured I could possibly bring them back in future strips as recurring characters. I love the random absurdity of Brianna bringing a missile to class. Also credit to Celina for adding the little extra detail of having the banner in the background say LeMar Elementary Science Fair, so now we know that the school that these kids attend is named after me. I think I just said to have it say Sixth Grade Science Fair, but I’m fine with this change.
That’s all I’ve managed to get done at this point. Financial issues stopped me from being able to continue to post new strips on a weekly basis. Last December Celina did ask me about possibly doing a Christmas-themed strip featuring Brianna, which sounded like a good idea, but I couldn’t think of anything at the time. I have since come up with an idea for a 5th BHE strip. When I have the money and time I’ll get in touch with Celina about it. It’s just since then when I have had money to spare for hiring Celina I’ve used it on other strips or image commissions.
And that includes my newest strip MALCOLM HEXED, about a 12-year old amatuer magician. As I’ve said before, I like the idea that each of my comic-strips actually exist in a shared universe, and one way to establish that is with occasional crossovers between the strips, whenever I can figure out how to do it naturally. I had already had an idea for what my 3rd Malcolm Hexed strip would be, having him do a magic trick for a kid who then tries to rob him. And just before I was ready to reach out to Celina about drawing it, it hit me that instead of some random new kid, I could use Brianna in this strip, thus establishing a connection. And that lead to:
My favorite strip out of all of them!
I was originally going to have Brianna pull a gun on Malcolm, but decided that might be a little too “adult” for a strip like this, so I went with a knife instead.
Like Brianna, Malcolm will also return as soon as I’m able. I hope you’ve enjoyed these background details about my creative process, and if you need to catch up on my strips so far, you can also browse the archives at MYCOMICSTRIPCLUB.COM (and also now at MYCOMICSTRIPCLUB.NET, if you prefer Google Blogs over Tumblr)
Brianna would be my worst nightmare as a teacher. Cool strips by the way.
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I’ve got a 5th strip finished, which I’ll be publishing this Wednesday.