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Reflecting On A Comic, Almost A Decade Later
Sometimes it takes so long to complete a creative project that you wonder if it will come into the world full of cobwebs. I wrote the script for Bus 900 while studying at a summer writers and artists workshop my university held at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. The year was 2010 and I was 21 years old. I had recently founded Quail Bell Magazine and spent much of my study abroad experience envisioning where to take it. At that point, I didn’t have much to show for it, except for a simple live website with a few stories, poems, and illustrations published on it. During that time, I was visiting haunted castles, volunteering for a nonprofit theater, and immersing myself in Scottish literature and art. I remember late nights spent reading, writing, drawing, and editing video. There was also plenty of goofy GChatting with my then-boyfriend (now husband!) and the person engaged to my brother-in-law back then. The Geneva-based fiancée was restless because she had no friends in her study abroad group and wanted to talk to someone in the same time zone. In the exploitative way many of us writers are guilty of, I used her for more than one character study. I don’t know what she’s up to now, but I recognize her in some of my characters when I read my old stories. To be clear, Bus 900 is not one of them.
Bus 900 isn’t based on anyone I know; it sprung purely from my imagination, though Alzheimer’s was starting to play a role in my family then. I presented the script for Bus 900 in my writing workshop, with classmates reading different parts. (One of them is actually one of my closest friends today, go figure.) A couple of years went by before I decided to do something with the script. I had written so much during college and it was hard to pinpoint a plan and destination for everything I wanted others to read, or watch in the case of film and video scripts. Frankly, I was overwhelmed. I knew I had to work and somehow muster the energy and courage to have my work live a life beyond my laptop. By then I had graduated from college and started to achieve some of my goals for Quail Bell Magazine. I met new collaborators, among them Laura Bramble, who agreed to illustrate the script and help me turn it into a stand-alone comic book. By 2014, we were including it at the Quail Bell table for zine festivals and other art events.
I hadn’t thought of Bus 900 much recently until Gretchen Gales, executive editor of Quail Bell, reminded me that we had a couple dozen copies remaining. The project seemed so distant, so many projects ago. Since then, my dear great-uncle, who had dementia, has passed away. I can’t even recount all of the other life changes that have occurred since we released Bus 900. I don’t even go by quite the same name anymore; I was Christine Stoddard then—as is printed on the comic—and am Christine Sloan Stoddard now. But I still believe in the comic and want others to read it. Like many artists, I am eager to share my work. If you want a copy, all you have to do is send me $3 by Venmo (christine-stoddard-2) or PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will mail it to you. Include your mailing address in the notes. Thank you for your interest. You’re making a 21-year-old Christine, who wandered the cemeteries and museums of Glasgow alone for hours on end, quite happy and a little less alone.