Origins of Sunnyville – Part 1

My blog’s over a month old and I, Max West, have shared many things with you, readers.  I’ve told you about my small press comics, some of the characters in Sunnyville Stories, shown you some of the art, and displayed a few of the tools I’ve used.

But I bet there’s something that at least a few of you have pondered – just where did I get the idea for my Sunnyville comic?  Just how does a guy get an idea like this?

I recall something that Howard Scott Warshaw, a video game programmer, once said.  (FYI, he was the programmer behind Atari 2600 titles like ET, Yar’s Revenge and Raiders of the Lost Ark.)  He told me when I saw him at a convention in Las Vegas, Nevada back in 2000 that ideas are a dime a dozen.  You don’t really get ideas – but you find them.  I found the idea for Sunnyville Stories.  The idea was spawned by two sources and the first one I plan to discuss with you this week.

The first source of inspiration was my own personal experiences.  In late 1989, your humble writer, Max West, left his home of Queens, New York for good.  Around Queens, I was used to walking to everywhere I had to go – supermarkets, the dentist, school, stores, etc.  Everything was in close proximity.

I moved down to the state of North Carolina, quite some ways south of the Mason-Dixon Line.  We didn’t go down to one of the cities like Charlotte, Durham, or Asheboro.  Instead, we moved to a rural area where there were plenty of farms around.  We practically lived out in the middle of nowhere.

Remember how I said that everywhere in New York, I was used to walking?  It was different here.  You needed a car to get anywhere – to school, stores, the doctor, etc.  What’s more is that many of things I was used to like shopping malls, Chinese food, department stores, etc. where nowhere in the area.  That required a car trip to one of the bigger towns or even to the cities.

I’ll be honest.  I felt like a fish out of water.  I had been taken away from everything I had ever known and cared about – then I had been dropped into a completely alien environment.  This is something that I displayed in the first episode of Sunnyville Stories.  Rusty was clearly on terra incognito and as you can see in the following page, he’s disappointed to learn of Sunnyville’s lack of luxuries that he was used to back in his original home city.

Page 23 of episode 1

Another factor in my move down to the rural south was the wilderness around me.  There were trees, farms, lots of plant life, and no shortage of wild animals like deer, squirrels, raccoons, rabbits, etc.  I frequently went exploring out in the woods, wandering on trails, observing trees, coming across animals, and thinking later about how much fun I had exploring.  This is part of the reason why Sunnyville is set out in a countryside setting and the rough country will be the setting for a significant number of stories.  And as you can see, Rusty’s reaction to this new environment definitely shows how much he is a fish out of water.

Episode 1 page 11

Episode 1 page 12

The other source of inspiration for Sunnyville didn’t come from another state – it actually came from another country!  But that’s for next week.  Be sure to visit the blog next week for more information about my small press comics.  Oh, don’t forget to subscribe for email updates and sign up to the RSS feed!

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About Max West

I am a freelance artist and the creator of Sunnyville Stories, an independent slice-of-life comics series.
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