Aphasia Chapter 1: Prelude

Pages 1 to 8: Carrie O’Kaye, Pages 9 to 10: Clay

When we first agreed to do Aphasia together back in 1998, Carrie dropped these first eight pages on me and I had to continue from there, so it was Carrie who really came up with the concept and the characters. Although I only had two pages in the first chapter, I would do more in subsequent ones.

Also notable is the quality of the images. Back in 1998 bandwidth was everything, so having files less than 100K was important. Because of this, the pages were small and the image quality was really poor. Although I still have the originals for my parts, I don’t have them for Carrie’s.

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Aphasia Chapter 2: Silent Song

Pages 11-15, 25: Clay, Pages 16-24: Carrie O’Kaye

This chapter really set up the dream-reality pattern that would continue throughout the comic.

Interesting for me is how I did the comic:  I would just draw something with pens on regular paper, photocopy it, and color the photocopy in greyscale with markers. That’s essentially the same way I do depression comix today, fifteen years later.

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Aphasia Chapter 3: Waltz

Clay: Pages 26-31, 37-39

Kraken (written by Clay): Pages 32-36

Carrie: Pages 40 to 43

Unlike the previous chapters I had a lot to do with this one. I can’t remember why Carrie didn’t do pages 32 to 36, but my Ontario Fanartists Unite friend Kraken stepped up to do some wonderful art. To me, there is also a huge improvement in my own storytelling, and the pace is really nice and relaxed in this chapter, especially pages 37 to 39 which really serve no purpose except for me to draw some backgrounds. Those backgrounds are actually inspired by some hiking trips I did on the Bruce Trail. I’ve been doing four panel comics nearly exclusively for the last ten or so years and I kind of miss doing those kinds of pages which don’t advance anything but just add a bit of mood.

Whenever I would have to draw a gravestone, Tang Ho’s would always be there.

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Aphasia Chapter 4: Dissonance

Pages 44-49, 58-67 Carrie O’Kaye

Pages 50-57 Clay

Carrie O’Kaye uses the dream sequence to make some explanations as to what happened the night Victor was killed. Not to complain about this part, I would have liked to held off on that a bit longer, but it’s a really well-done sequence. The Quietus character is also Carrie’s design, but in my part I had to write him. I think I was pretty shy about doing character designs at the time and Carrie filled the part in nicely. I believe the only character design I introduced in the series is Quietus’ assistant.

The wife I probably drew a little too needlessly undressed at first, something Carrie did point out.

The final third of this chapter is Carrie’s bit again, lots of puns and black humor. In terms of the plot it doesn’t add anything but I think Carrie wanted to lighten things up — my parts tended to be a bit heavy.

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Aphasia Chapter 5: Interlude One

I did pages 68 to 75 and 80, Carrie O’Kaye did pages 76 to 79.

I think Carrie and I at the time thought we needed to slow down a bit and just do some character development and give a bit more detail about the plot, especially who Victor is and what his mission is. What’s interesting for myself is between pages 73 and 74 I made the jump from coloring with markers to coloring with a graphics program (GIMP in this case), and I didn’t look back.

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Aphasia Chapter Six: Fugue

Clay: Pages 81-85, 90-93

Carrie: Pages 86-89, 94-97

Bahn: Pages 98-102

I can’t remember the reason Bahn did a part but it was a good idea — his pages are amazing.

The fugue dream was difficult to do. I did it all on paper, with only the lettering done on computer. It didn’t work out as well as I hoped, but it was a little experimental. My own style was changing here too, as I was getting away from the big anime eyes that were awkwardly part of my style until this point. I was also getting better with coloring on computer and this was still all done with a mouse, I hadn’t bought a tablet until a year later.  One of the things I like about Carrie’s part is that it’s humorous despite what the gruesome scene that Carrie drew with these two characters later. It also has the only appearance of super-deformed versions of the characters.

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Aphasia Chapter Seven: Pizzicato

Clay: Pages 103-108, 113-117. Carrie: Pages 109-112, 118-120.

Unfortunately this is the last complete chapter of Aphasia, as chapter 8 never got finished. It’s difficult to remember but a lot of friction happened over this particular chapter and the mute actually articulating herself. I was against it entirely, I thought the mute was a much more fascinating character to work with because she couldn’t talk and what was going through her mind was always a mystery and what her true intentions were never known until now.

When the time came for my part, I really didn’t know what to do, so basically I just took a page out of “A Heart Made of Glass” and made her more or less a heartbroken character.


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Aphasia Chapter Eight: Da Capo

Carrie O’Kaye: pages 121-125, 128-130

Clay: pages 126-127, 131-134

The last (and unfinished) chapter of Aphasia.

I guess this is the point where the working relationship between Carrie and I got strained to the point where we couldn’t do the comic anymore. Or perhaps because we lost interest. Or perhaps it was something else. But sadly, this is as far as the two of us got.

The interesting thing is I couldn’t tell you what would have happened if the two of us had continued. I know what I would have done, but I don’t know what Carrie would have done. This was always the challenge of doing a comic like this — the other people doing the comic would give you situations that you can’t predict — so planning ahead is kind of useless.

In my head, Quietus would have run after nabbing the scroll off of Victor, and Pizzicato would have given pursuit. Quietus would run into the wife, who had literally hung his servant out to dry. Fleeing that, he would have run into Arco’s body. Unfortunately for Arco, he “lives” — Quietus’ blade couldn’t kill him, and Pizzicato now has the choice of ditching her former pet for the new one. As for Victor and the Mute, Victor has to deal with the sudden realization of the reversal of roles — she is his master and not the other way around. But Victor begins to believe that by delivering the scroll he can be freed of his “curse”, so his next move is to locate Quietus.

Yeah. It would have been lovely.

I still like the story. I would have been nice if we had continued, but I know how Carrie felt about me doing Sexy Losers (Carrie hated it and didn’t like Aphasia being associated with it due to my association). I also know that when the mute started talking, I would being to like her less. She only has reaction shots in this chapter. And god, my action scene in the last few pages is horrible. Looking at it now, I was written in a place I had little interest in taking the the time to draw.

But every page drawn is an experience learned and for that I’m grateful. This was a good experience even if it isn’t a complete one.

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2024 Commentary and 2014 Commentary By Carrie O’Kaye

When I originally posted this on the site in 2014, Carrie O’Kaye, who I hadn’t spoken to in over a decade, was kind enough to find the posts and comment on them.  The posts no longer exist but of course I’d like to post her comments here, as a last word to this work.

“The work did not go on because I lost interest, because real life commitments, such as getting good grades, graduating, getting a job and fighting over internet time. Using phone line for internet access was such a struggle when you live in a family of five. Kraken and Bahn wanted us to continue Aphasia so they pitched in to help with their wonderful arts. If you would look at my parts, the mood was all over the place, the art style keeps changing, background art is non-existent, which indicates that I was looking for interesting things to add. Eventually I had nothing significant to contribute and the story went into hibernation. I was quite innocent technically and mentally when we made Aphasia. To tell you the truth, I never really aspired to be a comic book artist. I just had ideas that needed to be liberated, and Aphasia was the mean. When I no longer have any more ideas, the story stayed in deep sleep.”