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The long hard road to saying goodbye to Mark.
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