Comics Experience art instructor Phillip Sevy’s Paradox is back! The wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey one shot – which began life as a webcomic – comes out from Source Point Press on January 29.
Paradox is a solo effort, and follows a boy trapped in a loop where he must save himself and reality… although the paradox that threatens everyone also happens to have created him. Phillip spoke to us about his journey from web publishing to crowdfunding to print publishing and his relationship with Comics Experience.
Comics Experience: Paradox has had an interesting life, going from Kickstarter success to Source Point Press publication this year. Can you tell me more about your experience with getting this book out there?
Phillip Sevy: When I wrapped up my first run on Tomb Raider, it was the end of 2016. Usually editors have staffed their books through the new year and are trying to enjoy the holidays/winding down year, so it’s not the best time to hunt for new work. But I wanted to keep putting work out there. I also needed a break from the style and structure of what I’d been doing for over a year. I wanted to do something completely different than Tomb Raider.
I started out in comics doing a webcomic, so I thought why not go back and do another. I wanted to find something that I could post a page a day for a bit. I also hadn’t written something for myself to draw in quite awhile. All those elements got me in the mindset to create Paradox. Once I’d written the script, I pencilled/inked/colored/lettered a page a day for a month, and then queued up the pages on a Tumblr page, and then released them daily through January 2017. It was such a rich and rewarding experience, that it was fun to see it have life past the initial posting – with first a kickstarter and then a big reprint.
CE: Time travel stories are notoriously difficult to pull off. How did you plan and map Paradox, and what advice would you give writers and artists hoping to tackle the subject matter?
PS: Ooh, advice on time travel stories is that they’re SO HARD to write. Originally, I had conceived of Paradox years earlier and spent months of my afternoon runs trying to break the story down. I saw it as a 40 issue, long-form series. But when you’re dealing with looping timelines, time travel paradoxes, and the nature of the story I wanted to tell – there’s a limited window of logic you can hold hostage before everything collapses in on itself. And I just couldn’t make the story work for a long story. Which really bummed me out. So I shelved the idea. When I was trying to find ideas for this 30 page, page a day structure, Paradox came to mind. And I realized I could structure it with three (essentially) protagonists.
Each protag could take a page and just repeat that story. I also figured out that halfway through the series, the story would fold in on itself and allow me to go back through the previous pages and give them new context and understanding. Being able to examine an image two completely different ways was super exciting. It also allowed me to not have to draw a new page, but repurpose an old page. Once I figured out these fun mechanics (which I did in one morning), I wrote the script in an afternoon and started drawing it the next! If you’re going to write a time travel story, you *have* to know the end from the beginning. By their very nature, all events have already happened or are happening simultaneously – so planning is key. Brian K Vaughn said that for Paper Girls, they (he and Cliff Chiang) had to have the end mapped out at the beginning or else it wouldn’t work (also, go read Paper Girls cause it’s beautiful and brilliant and funny and heartfelt and the best).
CE: What’s it like being a one-man production team vs. a member of a team? What are some of the unique challenges
PS: When it’s only you – it’s ALL on you. If it works, well done. If it doesn’t, that’s your fault. Paradox really prepped me for the mindset it would take for me to do my next big creator owned book – which was Triage (that I wrote, pencilled, inked, and colored for Dark Horse). I love being able to control all aspects of my story (I’m a bit of a control freak) but man oh man is it nice to work with a team sometimes. So far I’ve been able to alternate projects and that keeps me happy and invigorated.
CE: How did your involvement with Comics Experience help in the creation and publication of Paradox?
PS: I first met Andy Schmidt at Comicpalooza in Houston in 2017. We were guests and were sitting opposite of each other. Being a slower show, we were able to get up and interact with the people around us a lot. Andy and I chatted a lot (which became a friendship that led to teaching with Comics Experience and a future project at some point) and I gave him a copy of Paradox – which had JUST been printed. He read it on the flight home and emailed me the next week. If I remember right, he really enjoyed it.
So when the partnership with Source Point Press opened up, he reached out and asked if I’d like them to reprint it. I never had any hope of it being published on a large scale because of it being a one shot – and comics don’t do one shots all that often. So I was really excited for it to have new life and find new readers!
Remember to pick up Paradox from Source Point Press on January 29! Show your local comic book shop some love!