Alchemy in the city

Albertan releases original script in Calgary

Aspiring Red Deer-based writer Joel Douglas Abrahamson started out penning a screenplay , but the graphic novel he’s created has become a beast of its own.

“I believe in the project 100 per cent,” says Abrahamson of his original script, Alchemy, which he’s currently adapting into a self-published 400-page, four-part graphic novel.

The first book, aptly titled Black, was already available online and at comics shops in Edmonton and Red Deer, and after launching it at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo earlier this month, it’s now available in Calgary.

Whether it’s as a writer, producer, artist or entrepreneur, the 26-year-old native Albertan will take on any role necessary to realize an idea he’s nurtured since his student days — even if it means teaching himself how to be a comics artist.

“I always wanted to retain the overall control of my property,” Abrahamson says.

That’s why he’s resisted simply pitching the script as a script, then risk seeing his vision supplanted.

Abrahamson was struck with the inspiration while rewriting his cherished screenplay — originally a 10-minute, unproduced short film script he created while at Vancouver Film School.

“I thought of adapting it into a comic, especially given the success of comic adaptations in the last however many years,” says Abrahamson, citing the Spider-Man and Batman franchises as examples.

Or, his personal favourite, the non-superhero adaptation Sin City. “I love Frank Miller.”

Yet since starting his graphic epic, he’s felt his own artistic powers growing.

“In the followup volumes I’m working on, I’m no longer just trying to imitate Miller’s style,” Abrahamson says.

That’s laudable progress for someone who’d previously never drawn a comic — and for someone who wasn’t focused on producing comics for their own sake to begin with. Abrahamson has produced one that, with a quick glance, impresses. Pages of the dark, moody, sometimes ethereal Gothic tale look like the work of a far more seasoned artist.

Black focuses on Catholic high school student Becky Sinclaire, who after being hooked on drugs by a less-than-virtuous counterpart, may require her sister’s heroic intervention before she descends into an inescapable pit.

Abrahamson’s efforts to create have also unlocked his inner marketing skills.

“I’ve created dedicated display stands for the books, which have been set up in various shops,” he says. “It keeps the books in their own little noticeable niche.”

However, Abrahamson’s person-to-person efforts have been most effective for generating sales, which is why he was adamant about making an appearance at the recent comic expo in Calgary. And he plans on doing more personal appearances in the future.

His books will be placed in three local locations: Kensington, downtown and 17th Avenue S.W., while he continues to track down the “perfect” retailers.

Abrahamson and his wife plan to move to Vancouver to shop the screenplay around once sales have reached 10,000 copies.


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