Let me say for the record that killing off mark from the comic was the hardest thing I had to do. I struggled with it for a long time and the decision was not made lightly.
Sometimes as a writer you’re faced with hard decisions. And sometimes, no matter how hard you try not to go down a certain path, that path keeps presenting itself to you over and over again, telling you that this is where the story should go. Such a path was shown to me, relentlessly, for nearly a year.
The idea for Mark’s demise started over a hundred comics ago. Originally happening to him after his talk with the Greenman on the bridge, but those comics conveyed such a strong message of hope, I found I couldn’t do it then. It was then slated for #500 but as I inched my way closer and closer to that milestone I found myself walking to the cliff and looking down into the abyss. I knew that if I chose this path for the comic, there was no going back. (This wasn’t going to be Marvel Comics where heroes die and come back all the time). I can’t tell you how many times I stepped back and asked, “Do I really want to do this? Is there another way to advance the story to where I want it to go without killing off a main character?” But each time, in the end, it felt (for lack of a better word) right. The imagery, panel by panel was burned deep within me. I had rough drafts written, about twenty comics worth. I couldn’t escape it. I didn’t want to escape it. This was a story I needed to tell, even if it stepped outside the norm for this comic.
So once more it was pushed back to # 555. This gave me room to do a few more things with Mark before his departure. It gave him the opportunity to say what’s really on him mind. Go back to Mateo’s going away party. Mark talks with most of the cast one on one. He also has a beautiful conversation with Shannon, giving them some closure once and for all. And the toast he gives Mateo (and really, to all of them) on # 500 now adds a bitter-sweet dimension to it when you realize I knew he won’t be around much longer.
I also pushed this story back to give the budding relationship between Emrys and Stephanie, and the story of Emrys losing his virginity, room to tell. Such a night couldn’t have been told on the heels of this story.
I also know that the manner of Mark’s death is a timely, if not controversial, hot button to some of you. Again, this decision was not made lightly or simply out of a desire to be edgy. The manner of Mark’s death is happening all too often and with alarming frequency these days and for that alone I felt this was a story to tell. But the true focus of the story will come from the more human side of such tragedies and how such loss affects those close to him.
For those of you wondering, this is not a normal story for Bohemian Nights. This story is and will be an exception. Yes, it is sad, and I’m not going to be glossing over that fact with the cast, but it will not last. The comic will lighten up again once the storm has passed. In fact, Mark’s death just may be the catalyst to accomplish that. There are many stories that will come from this tragic moment that could not come about if it did not happen. Thus becoming my strongest reason to move ahead with the story.
My hope is that this story will not sound the death-knell of the comic and I sincerely hope this doesn’t cause too many readers to give up on it. This was never my intent. The need to go through this storyline is undeniable and will last a few months but in the end there will be a return to the other stories that have made Bohemian Nights what it is (although a noticeable absence will still be felt from time to time). I have story outlines beyond this and look forward to returning to the other characters.
My hope is, as with all good stories, it strikes at the heart of the matter. It opens up space for the characters to grow. But it does not shy away from what truly matters: Life is short and you must live life to the fullest.
“To light a candle is to cast a shadow”
Ursula K. Le Guin
10 thoughts on “#557 Breaking News”
“Bohemian Nights is a web comic depicting twenty-something characters undertaking daily adventures of self discovery while drinking in that life-affirming vitality that only comes from youth… Aww FUCK THAT! It’s about a bunch of friends in dead end jobs with too much time on their hands and not enough money for hookers and blow.”
In your 20s, you deal with the loss of adult relationships. Sometimes this is through accident or misadventure, often involving cars. Sometimes it’s simply opportunities on the other side of the country (or world), and people moving apart. And sometimes, for some people, it’s through more violent or sinister means. It’s not all drinking with your friends and lusting over cute waitresses. We deal and we evolve.
By the way, you should update your cast page! Annabel looks to be the most recent addition, and Stephanie in particular probably merits a slot.
I got to admit, I was a little nervous when you started by throwing my own words back at me. The comic has come a long way since those early days, but I can honestly say many of those stories and antics will return.
Thanks for hanging in there and the vote of confidence. I’m going to try very hard to do justice to this story.
Oh, and I guess I should update Stephanie’s bio on the cast list today.
Understood..Your prior panel brought back many difficult memories for me, but these events happen to young people and can’t be simply glossed over just because the narrative is uncomfortable to tell.. I’ll be following this story line partially because I’m not into hate politics…and because I’ve an interest in the characters you’ve created.
I for one will not stop reading, this is a sad reality of life and way to often the affect death, no matter how, has on those near and dear are glossed over. From what you wrote it sounds like your gonna deal with this affect directly, and I think that is great, and as you said, the comic and life as it does for all of us, will go on. I commend you for taking a risk.
Thank you all. I really was very nervous about doing this storyline and I hope I don’t lose too many readers over it. Thank you for sticking though it. I’m hoping to end this storyline by #600 and the end of Book 4, and a (some what) return to the other stories.
I’m in it for the long haul and I appreciate the detailed justification, but in all honesty I don’t *expect* one, because, wrong of me or not, I both anticipate and expect everything to be clarified in the story itself. 😉
After this many pages of any work of fiction, you are either invested in the story and characters enough to keep reading, or you were only in it for the jokes from the start, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but while comedy is an important thematic element in this story (and life in general), it is not the stated intent. In my opinion, I think you’ve already proven you know how to tell your story well, so I have confidence it will all payoff in the end. Like you said, sometimes tragedy strikes early in life, but even as one life on this world is ending, others are beginning and all are changing. It’s not a fun topic to discuss, but it is an important one. Kudos to you for letting Mark end his tale on a positive step instead of at the bottom of the hole he had dug for himself. I predict some life-changing events for all of the cast on the horizon, and hopefully all of them will be for the best. 🙂
I haven’t commented before, I doubt that I will again. I will continue to read Bohemian Nights, to see who grows up and how. I also want amusing plots in the future and I’m sure they will come.
This killing is over but I am sorry that you didn’t make it more realistic. The point to remember is that the cops are scared to death,…of dying. That is why they make such bad decisions and are so jumpy. They are in “fight or flight mode”. Life as a policeman can be poisonous, and they can’t talk about it.
Make an erroneous reason for the police to want to question Marcus, then make everything go south much as you did. BTW, you should have made all the shots go at or near his trunk (chest, belly) because that is what cops are taught to shoot at.
I still wish you could have removed him from the story in a less final way. E.G. he does find a way into a fulfilling job, perhaps starting as a roadie for a nationwide touring band. He could end up across the country, with a good job and a girl who eventually makes him forget Shannon. Lastly, he could come to the point of not wanting to be in touch with any of them, at least for a very long time.
Speaking of Shannon, she needs a boyfriend who won’t put up with her BS (e.g. sending Marc off with another redhead instead of entrusting him with her infidelity). She has to learn to trust her partner with the tender parts of her, that could make the couple closer or could hurt her very badly if he used them against her. If she had told Marc about Dave and her being turned on by role playing he probably could have adjusted.
They all have, or will have regrets, the ones involving Marc will hurt worst, because there’s nothing to be done about them here on earth.
Thanks for taking the time to write. I do appreciate it. I agree that being a police officer is the hardest job out there and I don’t want to insinuate that these two cops are the norm.
Your insights of Shannon are very much on the spot. Let’s hope that she does eventually find someone right for her.
Thanks for sticking with the comic. I will be lightening things up after this storyline.
Executed by the cops for the crime of carrying a gun while black. How sadly realistic. Thank you Eric for having the courage to make this webcomic realistic.
(PS I’m a white guy who cares.)
Thank you Chris. It wasn’t easy to do, but i’m glad I did it too.
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