The Practical Dead was born of a love of comic books, a love of zombies, and a love of Guinness.
Over beers, we had the idea to do a small weekly strip about zombies…somehow. Really, that’s all we had. But then we started to ask ourselves the right “what if” questions. What if the Zombie Apocalypse actually happened? What if it wasn’t that bad? And what if our two heroes found a way to make some money from it?
Suddenly we found we had something a little bigger, and we really wanted to see it come to life. So if Fisher and Duncan often sound like they’re running off at the mouth in a drunk-talky way, it’s because they were born in a pint of Guinness on a cold restaurant patio on a chilly evening in early spring. Just like all the best things in life.
A few months back, I pitched the idea of doing a series of gag strips to Ryan. The original idea was going to be a bunch of one-offs, with no ongoing story. We both work in creative industries that are heavily digital, and have talked on and off about doing something that is more about the joy of creation than getting a pay cheque. The Practical Dead is the result of that.
We developed the idea over a few more Guinnii (plural for Guinness, ya know), and decided to go with an ongoing story. That’s when we decided to do the comic school, with penils and ink as opposed to Wacom tablets, layers and fill bucket tools. We plot it together, over pints, and for actual dialogue, I generally play the role of Duncan, while Ryan plays Fisher. As can happen when writing over pints, every line seems genius, so we have to knife some babies, but hopefully only the ugly ones.
The pints continue to flow as we do our rough storyboards, which Ryan then pencils on classic 11 x 17 inch comic art board. I’m not sure how often Guinness or other adult beverages are involved in this part, but if so, he manages to keep a steady hand.
When he hands off the pencils for inking, the Guinness definitely isn’t flowing. Mixing a spilled beer with an inked page is NOT a workflow problem I want to run into. I do keep a cup of coffee just out of reach, with a good buffer.
In the end, we owe a lot of the workflow to Guinness.
We hope you enjoy Fisher and Duncan’s journey