Origin Stories

'Grail' is a story that started back in the early 80s. I remember the day it formed in my mind: I was living (Squatting) in a house with no electricity, no gas, only cold water, in the winter time so the showers were fast and freezing. I went to a nearby Safeway to get something and the sky was clouded over, heavy with an impending rain, and I'd just sent off a synopsis for a book to my agent and was already working on another outline about Gods returning to earth, a final war and, as always, a human beings right to choose their destiny. This story was to take place in San Francisco, a fictional version, and was searching for a name. Looking at the sky gave me the inspiration to call this place 'Grayle'. 

Stayed that way for about 20 years. 

As the story and the characters progressed between actual paying jobs it became imperative that I just call the city San Francisco. I'd been there a couple of times and fell in love with everything it was and still is, but I knew very little about the history of the city. I began researching SF and it wasn't until this century that I could actually reach out and find those history's I needed (Thank you Amazon). 

The basic story never changed: Four Gods are born as humans, discover their true nature and begin a cosmic battle for the soul of humanity. I had a list of hundreds of characters, all important, and it really wasn't until I went back to college (Nights) and studying World Religions that I came to understand the vast nature of what I was trying to say. The story grew and eventually became more than the ideas I wanted to share. I still loved the original title I'd given San Francisco and I realized the whole idea of searching for a 'Holy Grail' that it hit me this was what I'd stumbled onto.

My own personal search of this 'Grail'. 

'Grail' became larger than the original idea and if I were to illustrate it the story had to take place over four different titles (More on that later). 
 Like all writers/artists the story was deeply personal. Aside from the whole save the world idea the characters all had to face their own human fears and doubts before the action really began. I took from everywhere, every myth and belief and added them, giving a background to each and every character, immortal, human and eternal. This isn't a tale about earth being the most beloved of some 'God', it isn't about the people being the only species in the universe, it's about those who actually love this planet, this life, and will do anything to protect it and the inhabitants. I don't try to explain the 'Gods', in the story they simply are and they aren't out to impress anyone else, they only want to save us from ourselves.

'Grail' is also a story where the characters represent the entire spectrum of humanity, black, Asian, Native American, Hispanic and white. Nor does it use any of the (Many) LGBTQ characters as someone to kill off in order to move the story forward. This is one of the reasons I had to go with San Francisco proper...Everyone has a right to that 'Happy Ending' and while everyone has to go through their own personal hell's they do something 99% of storytellers have failed to do: They persevere. 

They conquer their fears. They aren't swayed in both their duty and their personal life. Above all 'Grail' is about the power of love. 
  And I really believe in Love. The 'Agape' (Greek version for 'God kind of love') love we all possess but are afraid to open ourselves up to experiencing. Love that is without limits and worth fighting to preserve and to share with the world it really is possible to love without tossing in those story cliches where jealously and fear and the opinion of others always seem to use in their tales because they're easy shortcuts used to create a 'Plot'. They're used because the imagination of humanity has dropped steeply in the last ten years. 

When I first began fleshing out the main characters I had neither the imagination or skills necessary to make 'Grail' a reality. I started out using those people I knew, friends, family and actors I admired. It took a long time before I started to develop a style that I needed to tell this story and as more and more reference material came to me, as I opened my mind to the vast ocean of people out there was I able to actually see these characters as I pictured them in my mind. I also saw the reality that an idea will never fully be my own and there has to be room and the ability to let go of my creations so that others can add to and evolve them in ways I couldn't begin to see.
These illustrations are all part of the evolution of 'Grail' (And I really do need to scan them in with my new scanners). The original story was just a jumping off point for four different tales which cover several events taking place at the same time with the different characters. I've just finished the wraparound cover for the first story, 'Whispers in the Rain'. 

There's 30+ years invested in this story and it is, in the end, a love letter to my friends and loved ones. It's going to piss some people off, especially in today's climate, but it's just a beginning and as everyone grows comfortable with the characters they'll evolve, they'll grow, they'll become more than the sum total of one person's imagination. 

I will be working on the pencils for this tale today but I wish everyone out there a happy holiday and I want you all to know 'Grail' is my love letter to one and all. 

Until next time. 

Peace and love always. 
 

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