Last Riteson February 10, 2014 at 1:00 am
It was an exercise. An experiment. But, it began as even less than that.
The impetus for what would become Ultrasylvania was little more than a line scribbled in a notebook as I traveled Europe in June 2011. There were many such lines in said notebook. Nevertheless, this one stuck, and I figured it would become SOMETHING someday, but I’d no real idea what.
A rather concise version of the events that followed…. A former student suggested the Academy of Art in San Francisco run a class where multiple students would illustrate something I wrote. I’d been teaching writing at the Academy for a little over a year. I laughed off the idea, but somehow it stuck in my noggin. After bouncing it off Jeremy, we took it to Chuck Pyle, director of the Academy’s School of Illustration, and he gave us the green light.
Somewhere in the midst of all that, Jeremy and I determined that the story would be Ultrasylvania, that we would hand-pick our team of artists, and that we would put the final product up for free as a webcomic. We sold the idea to Chuck with all of these notions – along with seemingly crazy schemes of financing a print run via Kickstarter and a bicoastal print debut at both New York Comic Con and the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco. We left the meeting with his blessing – and musing to each other that just pulling off the webcomic would surprise us both.
And now, the end. That meeting with Chuck is over two years in the past. Since then, the collaborative class that I’d laughed off has run three times, resulting in so much more than we could have hoped – three self-published collections (thanks to a trio of wildly successful Kickstarter campaigns), a launchpad for several young artists, and a high-profile promotional tool for all involved. That said, it was never meant to last forever.
Jeremy and I were blessed with having total control over the project – including the decision to pull the plug. Everyone in any ongoing artistic endeavor always dreams of going out on a high note, and we feel we’ve done so here. Our collective future is unwritten, though we feel our opportunities are numerous as a direct result of this project. And for that – and for everything that Ultrasylvania became – I say, “THANK YOU!”
Thank you to the readers and the fans – and the fact that this story has amassed both thrills, amazes, and inspires me everyday.
Thank you to the artists who infused these characters with dimensions I’d hardly dreamed, and who injected their own styles and personalities into every page.
Thank you to Chuck, for hearing out two lunatics and taking a gamble.
Thank you to everyone who supported us – family, friends, co-workers, and those who discovered Ultrasylvania online or on the convention circuit.
And at the risk of this dragging on like an Oscar speech – too late, I know – I need to thank Jeremy. Without him there never would have been a class, and therefore no artwork, and therefore no Ultrasylvania. No amount of praise is too lavish to lay upon him.
Not much more to add. We’re turning up the house lights a bit. If you got this far and enjoyed yourself, tell others. Ultrasylvania will live on here. For free. You and others can come back and revisit and re-read. And if you want hard copies, those are out there for you as well. Don’t be sad. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. Yeah.