Reckless Life: Mad at the World (part 1)

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

Here we go! The inaugural installment of the first “real” Reckless Life story, Mad at the World:


Mad at the World was the first full-length RL story and really set the tone for the rest of the series in a lot of ways. We’ll pick up on that in subsequent commentaries as there’s already PLENTY of backstory to cover in this introductory chapter.

M@W was written for the long-gone older sister of Quixotronic, Misfit-Media. I covered that a little in my intro post. I had this idea as I was about to launch Reckless Life that I would likely find an audience more quickly if I hitched my wagon to someone who already had one. Then, in time, my audience would help feed the other and so on. So that’s just what I did. My friends J. Jason Groschopf and Dave Schrubbe were doing a strip called Counter-Productive for the Badger Herald (the UW indie school paper) and had a decent following. I built a website (by hand – no CMS’s in those heady days) for our two comics and away we went.

I quickly discovered that I was not the only one with this idea and found there was a whole world of webcomic collectives out there. I latched onto one called Komikwerks because it housed a fellow indie comic that I loved called BuzzBoy by John Gallagher. It also featured a young creator by the name of Willow Wilson. I guess she’s done some stuff since. I got my RL submission packet together and…

Got accepted!

Reckless Life began running on Komikwerks shortly thereafter with the pages you just read. (POP ART was non-cannon for me at that time because I’m a perfectionist and I didn’t think it was good enough. Now I think NONE of it is good enough, so what’s the difference?) RL ran on Komikwerks for a couple of months and was gaining a nice readership when they decided to trim the roster. I got the axe and was heartbroken.

Mad at the World updates were stilling running at Misfit-Media but I’d had a taste of a bigger audience and my little homemade website wasn’t enough for me anymore.

A few months passed and I got an email from my friend from college, Lynn Lau. Lynn was running her comic on a new site in the Modern Tales family called Girlamatic. Modern Tales had also recently launched an action comics imprint called Graphic Smash. (HEY WTF? WHY DOESN’T GS HAVE A WIKIPEDIA PAGE?!) Anyway, Lynn suggested I submit Mad at the World to then editor, T Campbell. I’m sure I drove T crazy in the submission process, you see, I’d been hurt before but he ended up offering me a slot on Graphic Smash and the rest is history. (That you can read in subsequent commentaries.)

And so, Mad at the World began a THIRD time. I was tempted to say “and final time” there but here we are at beginning number four of this story so I guess you never know.

Speaking of beginning, I always start my big stories with a Raiders of the Lost Arc-style cold action opening. These sequences are usually four pages. Back in the day I updated twice weekly which meant this sequence went on for two weeks and I felt that was more than enough preamble. Either way, it’s a fun way to start the story and introduce Locke.

I was going for shades of Bugs Bunny in this sequence in that Locke is painted as something of a rascal and the tunneling and popping out of holes is pretty on the nose. I had an idea of Locke breaking out of prison would become a running gag but it’s not something I ever got back to.

Similarly, a never got back to Orcus penitentiary, which is kind of a shame. Orcus is a lesser known Roman underworld god (I love mythology) so the name is cool and the idea of desert Alcatraz is kinda fun. I guess it’s not a bad thing that I got so into the characters that I worried less about the set pieces.

The dune buggy dragsters are a rare case of me making even a modest effort to depict invented technology. I don’t get much of thrill out of vehicle design and as the series goes on I definitely lean more into the “near” future setting. But I’m still figuring things out here and that’s kind of half the fun of looking back on theses.

You might also notice that same page has the same zipatone dot shading as POP ART and not the smooth gray tones of the other pages. Apparently 22 year-old me didn’t saved over the original PSD when it was time to print and the original gif that ran on Graphic Smash (above) is too low res to read on modern monitors. Good job, 22 year-old me. I did add the red backs but otherwise I’m sticking to my “no fixing stuff” policy.

Come for the comics. Stay for the chronicle of my failures.

NEXT WEEK: The plot kicks off!

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