Way back in the summer of 2004, I had an idea for a graphic novel about a man cutting a swath of vengeance across Texas. I called it To the Last Man, and I wrote the first half of it in an old notebook I happened to have with me while in San Diego. Once I returned home, I started refining the script.
A month later (this would be August) I had an artist contracted to draw the whole thing for just over $3000. I sent him the first quarter of his payment and waited. Month a later, I received character sketches (after bugging said artist for them).
Then my job canceled all available overtime, and I had to kill the project. Every now and then I really miss that $750.
I rewrote what I had of the script. The end was refusing to come together, but I didn’t let that bother me. I’d figure it out. Without an artist, I had all the time in the world. During this phase, To the Last Man took on a different flavor. While it was still a gritty revenge story, it took the occasional turn toward the fantastic, such as an Act Two action sequence involving our hero driving a ’49 Mercury up against a pair of redneck survivalists with enough weaponry to take over a country.
It was awesome.
During all of this, I tried various artists who were willing to work on the project. Standard operating procedure went something like, “I’ll have those character sketches for you in a day or two,” followed by the artist’s disappearance or decision to work on something else.
So I changed my plan. With two months and change left before Comic-Con 2005, I called up Ben Dale, an artist I’d met the year before, and asked if he’d be interested in penciling and inking five pages for a pitch. He read the script and agreed. We hammered out a few details concerning what we’d expect from each other if the project sold, and two months later (and after some lettering by yours truly) we had a pitch ready for San Diego.
I hustled that pitch around to every publisher I could find. Oni, Viper, Boom!, Planet Lar, and everybody else who wasn’t Marvel or DC.
Every last one of them turned it down.
Eh, you live and you learn. The odds were again me from the start, anyway. I went back to the drawing board, getting more pitches ready. Those are tales for another day, however. We’re here to talk about To the Last Man. See, I’ve always been a little sad that nobody got to see it.
I think today’s a good day to change that.
Because I love you all, I am presenting you the five finished pages from To the Last Man.Â Maybe they’ll amuse you or inspire you or make you wonder What the hell was this guy thinking?Â Either way, I hope you get something out of them, because they’re all I have to show for a year of work.
Copyright 2004, Nate Southard.
Art Copyright 2005, Ben Dale.