In the Golden Age of comics, it was easy for a costumed crime-fighter to pick up an orphan child or dim-witted cab driver as a sidekick. But in modern days, questions arise regarding child endangerment, and why an unmarried billionaire is keeping a young boy in a cave.
But now there’s an app for that. Enter Sidekick’d, an online motion comic that tells the story of the Night Watchman, a masked vigilante whose salad days are behind him. His spirit is willing, but his aged flesh is weak. Thanks to FindYourSidekick.com, Viral arrives on the scene to help him, whether he wants it or not.
To say the Night Watchman and Viral are at cross-purposes is an understatement. The Night Watchman has become an urban legend, while Viral is young, hip and social media savvy. So it’s not too long before the question arises: Who’s that old dude hanging out with Viral? Is he Viral’s sidekick or something?
“It’s kind of old school vs. new school,” says creator Adam Fox. “It’s the old guy who, if he touches a computer, fries it, versus a kid who posts every single thing he does online, and how would that work against the hero?”
Adam often refers to it as a “tragicomedy.” “My story is more focused on the human element of it, the interaction between the two, not about comic book punching with super-powers.”
He chose to present Sidekick’d as a motion comic, though he found other motion comics moved at a faster pace than he did, and found he sometimes missed elements from the story. To overcome this, he applied his online skills to create a self-paced story any reader can enjoy, rather than simply watching a semi-animated story.
Adam is a graduate of the sequential art program at the Savannah College of Art & Design. “I was one of the original comic guys at SCAD, the sequential art department was brand new and was competing against the Kubert school.”
“I’ve always been a storyteller,” he says. “I actually started writing my own novels back in high school, but I’m an artist, I like to draw, so comics are the natural combination of picture and text. I’m also trained as an animator, but with an emphasis on storyboarding, but I really wanted to draw comics.”
Looking back at his earlier work, Adam recognized his skills needed time to mature. Examining the raw, unpolished work of some of the masters of the craft has made him realize how loosely they would sketch. “I’m influenced by the ‘old guys,’ the number one influence being Eisner. I’m buying those IDW books, I got like, 30 of them Eisner, Romita, Joe Kubert, all those guys. I’m drooling over the line work and realizing it doesn’t have to be precise. Joe Kubert’s Tarzan, you can see how quickly he drew those panels, yet when you look at them in the comic, the work is beautiful. How does he get such detail when it’s so sketchy like that?”
He says it’s enabled him to relax and find his own style. “And draw faster,” he adds, “because I’m not worrying about every precise line.” Sidekick’d is evidence of his growth as a comic book artist. His artwork has evolved to a higher polish that stands shoulder to shoulder with any creator working for Marvel or DC. “This has been a way for me to get back into what I love to do.”
While working full-time as senior web developer for Gulfstream Aerospace, creating Sidekick’d has taken approximately three years. He works on the comic at night, about 10-15 hours a week, which is usually enough to finish one page all the way through – roughs, layouts, inks, colors and all the animations. “I start with an outline, then go to a script, but I don’t necessarily stick to the script. It’s more of a 90 percent guide. I allow myself to change on the fly, as I figure out a better way to convey the story I’m telling.”
He designs the pages in layers, but with an eye toward eventually publishing Sidekick’d as a traditional comic book. “When it’s just me, I can design it that way, with an eye toward reformatting it for paper.” Adam has complete confidence in his creation, and is committed to seeing it reach the widest possible audience. With that in mind, he is actively seeking a publisher to the direct market.
Adam says the villains in the story are all former heroes whose lives were ruined by Viral. “He’s left this wake of destruction, and completely steamrolls over everybody. So the Night Watchman is in the midst of having his life destroyed, and I thought it would be funny that the hero has more in common with the bad guys than with his partner, and be tempted to join them.”
“A character that I kind of grew to love, and I wasn’t think of doing much with him, is Kaptain Killjoy, the on again/off again hero-villain,” he says. “He just doesn’t know which side he’s on. He’s an aspiring actor who can be a hero one day, and a villain the next, and somehow he gets away with it.”
The fifth and final “issue” of Sidekick’d will be available May 31, but that won’t be the end of the story. “I’ve got two other series and a possible prequel to work on, and then it will be done,” he says. “Once I hit the end of the trilogy, that’s the end of the story. I have a beginning, middle and end planned for this. I don’t intend for it to be an ongoing, forever series.”