Sunnyville Stories Episode Zero

Hello, my dedicated fans.  Welcome back to the official Sunnyville Stories blog!  Last Saturday, we had the last pages to the first episode of Sunnyville Stories up.  Now the whole first episode of my slice-of-life comics series is fully available on this blog for absolutely free!  So go ahead and read it if you haven’t already.  I’d like to share with you some more comics this weekend.  Just before I began work on Sunnyville episode 1, I came up with a short minicomic that I drew in a day and made copies to hand out.  I was handing them out while attending Further Confusion 2010.  This minicomic was intended as teaser to my planned series, Sunnyville Stories.  It was a short prologue called “Sunnvyille Stories Episode #0: Moving Day”.  I should emphasize that this work is NOT part of the Sunnyville canon.  I made this simply as a preview.  I will do a similar prologue though for the planned Sunnyville trade paperback I plan for 2012.  That said, let’s read the comic together.

Sunnyville Stories Episode 0 Cover

This comic was done entirely by hand.  I drew it with Pigma Micron markers, Sharpies, and Pilot V-Razor Point pens.  The cover here is very simple, but it does work.  We have a very uneasy Rusty Duncan here waiting to enter his new home of Sunnyville.  In fact, that’s the theme of this comic – having to deal with the changes of life.  In fact, when I was doing this comic, I did draw upon my own personal experiences of having to move.

Episode 0 credits

Those “special thanks” names BTW are important.  Tom Motley was an important mentor.  It was at his night class at the School of Visual Arts that I started to really “come alive”.  The other person mentioned in the special thanks is Jason Little, who once stood in for Tom as a guest instructor and taught me some really good things about inking tools.  While it would ultimately be Matt Madden who had me switch over to traditional tools (dipping pens and brushes) from markers, Jason did set the groundwork for my transition.

Episode Zero Page 1

Here we have the first page to the start of my saga (even though I’ve now relegated this minicomic to being non-canon).  Rusty and his parents lived in a fair-sized city many miles away from the world of Sunnyville.  You can see here that the drawing style here looks rather flat, much like the original newspaper comics that influenced my style.  And in the window there, it’s none other than Rusty Duncan, our young hero.  He’s at a major crossroads in his life right now, but he doesn’t know it.  The story here is that he and his mother, Nancy, are waiting for Rusty’s father, Al, to return.  Al has lost his job and has went off to an interview for a new job.

Episode Zero page 2This marks the first appearance of Rusty’s mom. Her pointy design is an interesting story.  Many were telling me that my characters looked too similar so I made some changes with Rusty’s mom, Nancy. Nancy has pointed features; her eyes, ears, and even boobs are pointy! Plus she has fangs and claws visible. Not only is this meant to make her look different, but it also is meant to emphasize her stern nature.

We obviously can see that even before our saga in Sunnyville begins, Rusty has been through a lot. The chemistry between mother and son here is great. She helps to make him funny.  The only gripe I have here is the composition in the lower panel is lacking.

Episode Zero page 3


It turns out the shadowy figure was none other than Al Duncan, Rusty’s pop, and he has good news.  He’s found a new job!

Al was somewhat of a challenge to do. To distinguish him and not make him look too much like other characters, I made his head more elongated and gave him a black nose and glasses. Still though, I had to make him look like he was related to Rusty but not make him look like Rusty’s brother. You can’t see it well as he’s wearing a trilby hat but he has tabby stripes like that of Rusty.  As you’ll see if you read episode 1, I did change this version of Al.

Episode Zero page 4


Al makes the announcement that his new job is not in town.  It’s in a far away place called Sunnyville and the family has to move.  Here, the story is now set into motion.

That text box that reads “Look of Horror” generated some controversy.  Some thought that was overkill – I had sound thinking to back it up then.  This was meant to convey that this is a MAJOR turning point in Rusty’s life.  He’s being taken away from everything he knows and is going to be thrust into a completely alien environment.  One troll was harassing me about this page.  This guy couldn’t draw himself and I tried to explain to him that this is something Scott McCloud calls a “duo-specific” combination of words and pictures.  Big mistake – the troll’s Neanderthal mind was too stupid to process that information and he just started flinging insults (as most trolls do when confronted with facts and logic).  Needless to say, he ended up looking very foolish and juvenile.

Episode Zero page 5


Rusty waits clad in jacket and ivy cap with his bag by his side, waiting with his parents (not pictured here) for his new life in the remote town known as Sunnyville. Little does he know what is in store for him there…but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

In the other pictures, I used depth cues. Here, in addition to the usual depth cues, I’m also using one-point perspective for that wall that Rusty is leaning against. That poster on the wall was a last minute addition BTW, right before I finally signed my work. The composition would have been weakened without it.

And so, this ends the teaser.  This was meant, to quote Milton Berle, leave people wanting more.  This was done in the summer of 2009 and I didn’t start serious work on the first episode until January of 2010.  That, my friends, ends this week’s blog post.

Any comments or questions?  Feel free to post them here – I insist you do.  Also, subscribe via RSS feed or email if you haven’t done so yet.  Don’t forget you can swing by the Sunnyville store to pick up your copies of Sunnyville episode 2 and the Sunnyville Sketchbook along with very cool prints.  Tune in next week for more neat stuff!

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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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