I came up with what would become Nine Twilights during my senior year of college. I had always wanted to tell a magical girl story with an international cast. It was ground I wanted Sailor Moon to cover as a kid, but never did, and it seemed fun. I would have a great excuse to research and learn about a bunch of new cultures I knew little to nothing about. From the start, the premise had the girls as reincarnated Aesir. I came up with a second premise to tinker with, just in case. In that one, the girls were normal, but each one was gifted magical abilities by a patron Aesir. I didn’t like it as much, and went forward with the original.
With the magical girl backbone, I wanted to tell a story of a bunch of outcasts, screw-ups, and wannabes. In that regard, the biggest direct influence Sailor Moon has on 9T is the comics’ Dark Kingdom arc. That arc is all about dealing with the mistakes and failures of past lives. Whether Wanda and her friends will overcome theirs remains to be seen. My favorite magical girl stories end more-or-less positively. My favorite sagas do not.
I developed 9T on and off for about a year until I brought on Chris. I met him early 2012, when we got into an argument over Suikoden on tumblr.hell. We became friends soon after. I mentioned I wanted to do a webcomic, and Chris said he’d be interested in helping. As editor he’s helped me learn to let my story breathe. At the time, I was an uber-architect. Every detail of everything had to be planned out before I wrote anything. This is not a good work method. Chris encouraged me to stop micromanaging my story and allow myself enough room to improvise and develop as we worked. I have story and character points I am working toward, and I mostly know the way there, but because of his advice I’m no longer beholden to a plan from 2012. And thank goodness for it. I’ve been able to reshuffle character introductions, introduce a stronger supporting cast, and rework characters that never clicked. The story is so, so much better now than it was then.
Each chapter we go to a new location and meet a new teammate or antagonist. My first steps are to research and refresh myself on the location, characters, and relevant mythological ties. With all that in mind, I figure out the theme on my own or with Chris.
The best piece of writing advice I ever got was from a Gail Simone blog post: have something to say. That’s the heart of all good stories. Spider-Man is about how with great power comes great responsibility. Buffy was about how high school and growing up is hell. Nine Twilights is about cycles of vengeance and failure and grappling with past mistakes. Every chapter, I work within the greater theme and then, working with the characters, find the theme of each individual chapter.
Once I have those elements, I write an outline of the chapter, and then a page-by-page outline. I run those by Chris, and then get to the script. The script part is the easiest for me – I’m pretty quick once the map is all laid out. I give it to Chris, I rewrite as needed, and then give it to Andrea. I rarely need to give notes on Andrea’s work. She usually hits it out of the park during layouts, and often improves my script by trimming or condensing unneeded panels. 9T wouldn’t be half of what it is without her.
I’m incredibly thankful for my team, their hard work, and perseverance. They have made me work smarter and harder. I’m excited for you all to see what we have coming up!