Spotlight

The First Calendar – A Tale of Humanity in a Land of Gods

November grew up in a tiny town in a large forest. The entire forest has since burned down, so technically, he is from nowhere. He is the writer behind The First Calendar.

Synopsis: This is a story about humanity in a land of gods. Twelve gods make up the Pantheon (January, February, etc), and though each has an important role in the way the world is shaped, the story is really about the humans that they inspire, protect, entertain, dominate, trick, shape, and watch, each according to their own devices.

Join the Narrator as he watches the story unfold with you, influencing the plot only when he absolutely must (feels like it). We begin the saga by watching a hunter trek boldly into the north in search of January. But the only way to gain an audience with the Goddess of the Hunt is to be hunted…

Is your comic available in any other languages? If so, what language(s)?
Not yet. But Zeno Colangelo (the incredible artist) is Italian, so I would love to do a version in that language. Also I speak a certain amount of Spanish so I would also love to do a version in that language as well.

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
I suppose I technically went to (some) school for writing, but it was only as helpful as I allowed it to be. If you are very productive then school can be quite useful. However, the internet can be just as instructive and is a great deal cheaper. In my opinion, surrounding yourself with thoughtful readers from whom you can accept painful truths is most valuable situation, if you embrace the work.

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
This comic is a mythological fantasy. That is to say, it is a real history of a fantasy world.
Originally fantasy worlds appealed to me because I was raised in a forest. I filled the empty landscape with my imaginations and gave those motivations and obstacles. I was too young to realize I was writing without paper.

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
I would also consider it adventure, because the only humans who are watched are the ones worth watching.

What was your inspiration for the story?
One of the biggest influence was Plutarch’s Lives; ancient stories of towering figures we remember even today. The book begins with a story from before Greece existed, when the lands between the human settlements was too dangerous to travel. There were bands of thieves and enormous man-eating lions, there existed little to no trade or travel. Then an ambitious young man who was powerful and skilled declared that he would fight off the robbers and the animals and make the roads safe. Thus the legend of Hercules began. Now we speak of his deeds whenever we mention the herculean efforts of mankind. He even inspired others of his own time, like Theseus and Romulus to go out and secure the countryside (founding Athens and Rome, respectively) in an effort that would be echoed and repeated across time and story.

When a story is part myth, part history, you’ll find that is right along with this comic’s themes.

And I would be lying if I didn’t include Neil Gaiman here as well, who showed me what comics were capable of, from a writing standpoint.

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
Ah, perfect. Yes, Neil Gaiman and Sandman had a very large influence in understanding all that the medium of comics had to offer. I grew up reading novels like The Once and Future King by T.H. White, not Swamp Thing by Alan Moore. But art is art, and finding one great example to open your eyes is enough to understand the potential of the medium.

David Petersen for Mouse Guard, Bill Willingham for Fables, Skottie Young for I Hate Fairyland, Craig Thompson for Habibi, and Jeff Smith for Bone. All those transported me completely. Since then I’ve opened my heart to comics and discovered even many more.

How long does it take you to complete one page?
We make ten pages per month of comic. The plot was created far in advance. Collaborating, we have one month to make ten pages, then later we return to the work to do a last round of editing, create covers and bonus pages and so forth.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
I use a pen and paper, and an app called Workflowy and an app called Bear.

My process is definitely iterative. I would say it is a mix between growing a garden and baking a pie. You germinate seeds, but as the plot begins to grow you have to knead it back down, then cool it in the fridge, roll it out, cut it to pieces and so on. Characters undergo the greatest amount of cruelty in this process, but it is well documented cruelty.

Is your comic a finished work? If not, how long do you think you think it’s going to be when it’s complete? Is there a definitive ending or will you just keep going for as long as possible?
This comic will be a finished work of approximately 150 pages exactly. Removing the bonus pages and cover pages it will be precisely 126. Remove our promotional cover and it will settle to 125 available for free online.
But there are many stories in this place, and the Narrator will try to tell them all. If he succeeds there could be many books, all exactly the same length, but not all of them beginning in January.

How many pages do you have complete at the moment?
The chapters follow the months carefully. I started writing this in late April and currently there are 91 pages available online. Because we have nearly finished the production of the entire story in advance, we have never missed a release date.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
I wrote the story for a year before seeking an artist. Once I found my working partner, We worked 8 months before we began to release content. That built an acceptable buffer and allowed time to contract out and build the beautiful website we have now.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced during the course of making of your comic? If you could go back in time to the point where you just started making it and give yourself a pep talk, what would you say?
This! – finding readers and getting eyes onto a lovingly crafted product. It seems like such a daunting task to leap into the pool of social media, which is all splashing water and chlorine, and try and swim unspoiled to the other side. Personally, I’m not that interested in sharing myself. But audiences are as essential as they are lethal, and without them the artist would never be near anything important.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
My favorite part about working on this comic is the focus and energy it has given my life as a whole. Measured goals can do a lot for a person’s life, especially when they align with your passions. Life’s direction becomes decided, finally.

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
Ten pages per chapter is the greatest writing challenge I have faced. It is an absurdly tight schedule for the plot of a webcomic. But it is necessary to make the endeavor affordable, so I have adjusted. It has forced me to change the way I write, to try and maximize every panel. The comic is much better for it.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
The Narrator, absolutely. He is part character and part audience. His mistakes unfold delightfully and his triumphs belong to everybody. He adds purpose, clarity and just the tiniest bit of self indulgence.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
The Narrator, definitely. He is the closest thing to revealing myself. I think this has resulted in my writing him to be occasionally subversive.

Where can we find you?
thefirstcalendarcomic.com
twitter/IG: November_Comics

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
Know that we have a patreon: November Comics. There you can sign up to see bonus pages and get early access to the entire chapter at the start of the month, for those who like to binge but not necessarily with Babish.

Have you read The First Calendar yet? Let us know what you think in the comments!