Writing Comics: The History of THE ARMY OF DR. MOREAU

Of all the comic book projects I have worked on, The Army of Dr. Moreau has a very special place in my heart. Some of you have never heard of this book, and others have asked me questions about the writing and creative process of making comics…so I figured I could talk a bit about both while pushing AoDM, which is finally available again on Comixology after a long time

The Army of Dr. Moreau is a passion project that goes back about ten years, but really has its origins more than 40 years ago. I first discovered The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells when I was a kid. Back in 1977 there was fairly mediocre film adaptation of Wells’s 1886 book, and Marvel Comics did a comic adaptation of the film. I was just old enough at the time that Island of Dr. Moreau sparked my imagination. Over the years I came up with all kinds of stories that could allow for a trip back to the island where a mad scientist was turning animals into quasi-humans. First, there was the comedic scenario – Abbott and Costello on the Island of Dr. Moreau (c’mon, you know that would be amazing). Then came a more serious approach that was literally Indiana Jones on the Island of Dr. Moreau (also, something that would be amazing). And of course, there was Doc Savage on the Island of Dr. Moreau (I’m not convinced that one would’ve been as good as the others).

As my career in comics began to actually start moving forward, I felt it was time to get serious about a Dr. Moreau project. I got rid of all the crossover ideas I’d had earlier, but held on to the idea that H.G. Wells had based his book on a real person and real events. Both my Indiana Jones and Doc Savage ideas took place in the 1930s, and involved Nazis, so I kept that as well, and began to develop what would become The Army of Dr. Moreau . Interestingly, the character of Avi Zeller is loosely inspired by comedian Lou Costello, so even a bit of the Abbott and Costello element remained.

I spent years trying to find an artist, and went through at least four before hooking up with a guy named Carl. Right around this time, Monkeybrain Comics was making a splash with digital comics. I loved everything Monkeybrain was publishing – these were some of the best indie comics being created at the time. I took a freelance gig writing another indie series, and used all of that money to finance The Army of Dr. Moreau (forget using the money to pay rent).

The Army of Dr. Moreau debuted on Comixology in 2013. Initially, I was very happy with the series, but that feeling would change in time (which I will talk about in later posts). The series was well received, and though it took longer than had been planned, we finished all six issues. We then were able to get a deal that would put out a physical graphic novel through IDW. The physical book was far from anything that could be considered a hit. A few years later, Monkeybrain Comics restructured, and AoDM was no longer available digitally, while all the physical copies were sitting in a warehouse. The passion project that meant so much to me – that I spent so much time and money creating – had become a thing of heartbreak and disappointment (this too is something I will discuss in later posts).

After years of sitting on AoDM, allowing it to collect dust (in the digital sense), I decided to put it back into the world. Despite my feelings of the creative process and the business shortcomings, I had created this thing to be read. Too many creators look at their past work with disdain or embarrassment, and hide it away from everyone. That does a disservice to the work itself, and the creative energy used to produce it. I’ve finally reached a place where I want The Army of Dr. Moreau back out in the world through my own company, Solid Comix…and here it is.

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