The Comics That Don’t Get Made

We are getting semi-regular with this newsletter here and I intend to keep it going — with art drops from my new comic book, writing about what I’m reading, and a new idea I had to share my creative failures and abandoned comics projects. As I prepare to launch my first real comic book series, it occurred to me that this very easily would not have been the first if things went differently. Actually, it didn’t occur to me. I was looking on an old external hard drive for a file of an editorial cartoon of mine and came across folders of my old work I hadn’t seen in many years.

There are a couple of projects, entirely from the first decade of my career, that for various reasons did not get picked up or I tapped out of due to time commitments I couldn’t make. So with this newsletter I’m going to begin the project of slowly showing off the comics and graphic novels that never were, which is all part of the process of eventually getting to the comics and graphic novels that make it into the world.

The first up is The Unheroes, a post-superhero idea by writer Neil Kleid, that I did art for way back in 2005. But first…

Justice Warriors drops next Wednesday!

The first issue of my new comic book series, Justice Warriors, comes out June 8. This is what I’ve been pouring my creative energies into over the last year and it would mean the world to me if you picked it up at your local comic shop next week and gave it a spin. The series is done in collaboration with artist Ben Clarkson and is our vision of a dystopia and utopia embattled and entwined with one another — and the cops who police those boundaries. It’s a weird, violent, mutant-filled story packed with action and satire. If you’ve liked my work over the years, I think you’ll dig it.

In addition to writing, I’m contributing back-up strips and variant covers. You can eve ask your comic book shop for the Matt Bors Justice Warriors covers, if you so desire. All three of the covers for issue one are below — the first is by Clarkson and the last by Ben Passmore.

You can read an interview with me and Ben Clarkson on Comics Beat and read a five page preview of the first issue on ScreenRant.

The Unheroes

When I drew five pages of The Unheroes in 2005, it wasn’t my first attempt at longer form comics, but it was my first real collaboration with a writer. Skip down to the comic if you like, but pulling these out have dredged up some memories, so here’s a little scene setting.

Neil Kleid is a cartoonist and writer who has created all manner of comics in the years since we collaborated and is still going. He received a Xeric Award grant for his graphic novella Ninety Candles, published in 2004, which would have been right before we got together on The Unheroes.

The premise of this proposed comic book series or graphic novel (I forget which) was that a world populated with superheroes had created a segment of the population whose powers has eventually dissipated — your possession by a god came to an end, say, or maybe your radioactive spider bite powers simply waned after many years — and within that population was a segment of people struggling with their loss of, and even addiction to, that power. The Unheroes.

I would have been 21 at the time, living back with my parents after two years of art school and working furiously to get my comics career off the ground. That meant comics and freelance illustrations in the morning, then working the late shift at a printing plant where I did digital pre-press, alone in an office listening to Air America and writing political cartoons in my head while I trapped color files for screen printing.

I don’t remember our correspondence and haven’t kept in touch with Neil in the many years since, but I do remember we didn’t get to pitching the project — I regretfully pulled out due to time constraints. Surely not what a writer ever wants to hear from an artist previously psyched for the project. I was having success with my political cartoons and freelance illustration at the time, doing a lot of quick turnaround jobs for alt-weeklies across the country, and something had to give. I decided to focus on the political cartoons and get to longer form comics later. It would take me another five years to get a book out when War Is Boring was published in 2010.

So here is The Unheroes. The art here is a little rough — I was 21 at the time — and I don’t know where the story was going from here, but use your imagination.

For more failed projects and unfailed ones actually coming out, sign up for my regular newsletter here.

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Matt Bors

Cartoonist and editor of The Nib. Working on the comic Justice Warriors. Sign up for my newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/hpt7zve