Issue #5 of The Outbreak, the next-to-last issue of “Monster at the Institute” is online now for your viewing pleasure! This issue begins the action-packed climax I promised you earlier. And it’s the longest issue yet! There’s blood and guts, so hopefully that makes up for all the bookishness of the previous issue. #lupanoidguts. Make it a thing!
Just a reminder (or news, to anyone stumbling across this post), ALL issues of The Outbreak are free and available all the time. So relax! Enjoy! With frequency!
For those interested, here’s a summary of Chapter 4 (Issue #4):
Dr. Sullivan has been reading Dr. Fenimore’s published studies. He writes in his journals about Dr. Fenimore’s research into human evolution, which has stalled. He speculates that humans can only continue to evolve if they have a real, worthy predator again, such as the lupanoids.
Enjoy issue #5!
I hope you’re still enjoying The Outbreak as much as President Obama is!
OK, maybe he was reading Where the Wild Things Are, but I’m sure that’s probably just because he doesn’t know about “Monster at the Institute” yet!
Chapter 4, which posted earlier today, is a pretty short one in which Dr. Sullivan learns a little more about Dr. Fenimore’s research agenda. We’re approaching the action-packed conclusion in Chapter 5, so stay tuned!
For those who like such things, here’s a summary of Chapter 3 (Issue 3):
Dr. Sullivan speaks to Theo, who runs the small animal center, while storing two hedgehogs and a rat he captured with the help of the Confrontation. Theo explains that Dr. Fenimore has been requesting many live lupanoids lately, but that Theo has to take dead, cut-up lupanoids back to the incinerator. Dr. Sullivan goes with Theo to collect lupanoids and is admitted by Ivan into the laboratory. He sees two autopsy tables with various tools built into the ceiling. On one of the tables, he sees a very old man--Dr. Fenimore, but much aged recently. When he calls to the old man, he is choked by the smell again, and Ivan asks him to leave. Outside the lab, he looks into Theo’s cart and sees parts of lupanoids in various states of dissection. Theo takes them back to the incinerator.
Continue on to Issue 4 here!
Wow! I’ve been so busy this week, I’ve failed to post anything I intended this week! Well, I’ll get to it later. The important, just-can’t-wait news at the moment is that Issue #3 of The Outbreak, “Monster at the Institute,” is online!
Thank you again to everyone who has given kind words, advice, and donations so far! I’m really excited by the response. I’ll have some more stuff lined up for Free Comic Book Day (May 3), so stay tuned.
Chapter 3 of “Monster at the Institute” is the longest yet—30 panels—and it finally takes into the midst of Dr. Fenimore’s mysterious lab. What’s happening in there? And what has happened to Dr. Fenimore? Only one way to find out…
For those interested, here’s a summary of Issue #2. Eventually, I might add these to the issue webpages, but no promises.
Issue #2 Summary:
Dr. Sullivan goes down to the biology department and looks through the slit in the large metal door covering Dr. Fenimore’s laboratory. He sees Dr. Fenimore’s assistant, Ivan, walking with dissecting tools. After Dr. Sullivan’s knock, Ivan opens the door, which seems to involve many locks. Ivan tells Dr. Sullivan that Dr. Fenimore is unavailable, and before he can insist, Dr. Sullivan is overcome by a terrible smell. He also hears an inhuman howl from the laboratory. Ivan closes the door before he recovers, leaving Dr. Sullivan staring at the closed door.
So what did you think of the debut issue of The Outbreak?
This next issue is just a little longer, which I hope you’ll enjoy. In Chapter Two of “Monster at the Institute,” Dr. Sullivan gets his first glimpse into Dr. Feminore’s laboratory… It’s posted right here this very moment, so go check it out!
Although the first issue will continue to stay on the site indefinitely, I’ve included a brief summary of “Monster at the Institute,” Chapter One, below. Enjoy!
Issue #1 Summary:
Patrick Sullivan, a chemist at the Institute for Co-Existence, writes in the journal he keeps for posterity. His recent experiments to discover the origins of the lupanoids have failed, and he is feeling down about it. He mentions that several of his chemistry colleagues have not done any better, although one is collaborating with the biology department. Despite how uncomfortable the biology department makes him, he decides to approach one of the biologists, Dr. Fenimore, to discuss collaboration.
NOTE: I’ve had a few requests for a general summary of the world in which The Outbreak (and specifically “Monster at the Institute”) takes place. Hopefully, all this comes through clearly in the comic, but if you want a little more information or to read ahead, this is what you’re looking for!
While still recovering from the trauma of World War II, England endures an outbreak of ravenous, wolf-like carnivores called lupanoids. The beasts take over the countryside, dramatically altering the landscape and culture. No one seems to understand where they came from or why. All that is known for sure is that the lupanoids aren’t wolves and aren’t humans, and they appear to never have been either. Popular opinion is divided on whether they should (or can) be exterminated or whether humankind should learn to live alongside the lupanoids.
Two main groups make up either side of this debate. The Institute for Co-Existence, which is just a refurbished version of the war-time Institute for Peace, is a government-funded research institute that employs chemists, biologists, mathematicians, sociologists, and other scientists all working toward a common goal: to establish a new normal society in which humans and the lupanoids co-exist without fear. On the other hand, The Confrontation is a military-style group that eliminates lupanoids wherever the soliders find them. The Confrontation is careful, though, to tranquilize the beasts before burning them at a cremation facility offsite, since the fresh blood of a slain lupanoid would just attract more.
Although they seem to be at odds, the Institute and Confrontation work together frequently. The Confrontation regularly provides a small number of live lupanoids to the Institute for testing, and the Institute developed and supplies the tranquilizer used by the Confrontation. In addition, the Confrontation runs the transports that are required to get around, which are Army jeeps enhanced to protect against lupanoid attacks.
After surviving the Blitz and other stresses of the war, many English citizens found the lupanoid Outbreak too much to bear. Many have left the country, fleeing to America and other countries where they believe they’ll be free of the lupanoid threat. Those who remain live mostly barricaded in rooms with bricked-over windows, dependent on The Confrontation for transportation, and with little opportunity to venture outside without fear of attack.
But they make do, those who remain in England. Because that’s their duty to their country and families: to make do.
Beginning tomorrow, you can read excerpts from the journal of Dr. Patrick Sullivan, a chemist at the Institute for Co-Existence, in “Monster at the Institute.” Patrick flew in the Royal Air Force during the war, but now lives on the outskirts of London with his wife Susan and their young son, Marcus. Patrick is convinced that he can help find a way to control the Outbreak and to live in peace with the lupanoids, the way humans co-exist with other animals, but neither he nor his fellow scientists have come up with any solutions yet.
Learn more tomorrow…
Today’s the day, everyone! OK, it probably means more to me than to you. I mean, it’s not like this comic is going anywhere, for a while at least. It will be here for you to check back in on or for other people to discover later.
But for me this is the successful climax of over a year of work. These stories that make up The Outbreak, including the story in “Monster at the Institute,” began as short stories that I wrote to take a break from my novel. I thought there was a slim chance I’d ever get “Monster” and the other stories in a literary journal (which does take some of the pressure off, allowing me to write a little more freely than I might otherwise). But then my husband mentioned that they might make good comics…
And so, through a connection to the Naked Wordshop, I joined Sunday Comix and floated down into the rabbit hole that is the Columbus comics community. And lord, did I have a lot to learn! Just a few examples:
Although “Monster at the Institute” wasn’t intended to be the first-launched story for The Outbreak, I was lucky enough to convince Michael Neno to draw it for me, and you guys are seriously going to love the results. Michael has a great throw-back style, reminiscent of the best 1950s comic art, which fits this story so beautifully. (In fact, if you’re really interested in that other comic knowledge I’ve gained, check out his digital book Creating Old School Comics: the Tips, Tools and Tricks You Need for Pre-Digital Cartooning for only $5!) I think Michael probably worked on this story once a day for more than a year straight, and the artwork reflects that attention to detail and hard work.
Once Michael delivered the completed artwork, I realized how drastically I’d underestimated the work that still needed to be done to get my website and the actual digital comic built! I worked crazy super hard on it for… I don’t even know how long. It felt like another year, but it was probably three weeks or something. Then I sent it out to my super-special “soft open” guinea pigs to click around and let me know what didn’t work. Then I incorporated all THEIR comments, and here we are. Finally. On launch day. Whew!!
The guinea pigs to whom I owe heaps of gratitude are: Valerie Acton, Matt Betts, Viven Barlow, Travis Horseman, Canada Keck, Kathy Matthews, William Minozzi (my husband), and Glenn Shaheen. They all offered advice on navigation, caught typos, helped with rewrites, and gave me technical feedback. Thank you all so much!
“Monster at the Institute” is six issues long, and I’ll post one a week over the next six weeks on Thursdays. To get reminders and other news about The Outbreak, subscribe to this blog (the button’s up top, but if you use Chrome, you have to do it however you usually subscribe to blogs)! Michael Neno and I are already working on the next story, but you’ll only get updates by checking here.
And now, without further ado, please enjoy the debut issue of The Outbreak, “Monster at the Institute.”
All content on this site, including The Outbreak, is available under a creative commons license. Please share as much as you like! All we ask is that you cite us wherever you reproduce our work and don’t make any money off it.
We also encourage you to use whatever you see here to spark your own creative projects. If you’ve come up with anything you’d like to share, we’d love to see it! Please share a link here in the comments. And keep up the good work!
All issues of The Outbreak use Prezi, a third-party online presentation software. I know that Prezi works great on computers with Windows, because that’s how I built it. But I can’t test everything! If you encounter problems viewing The Outbreak on other devices with other operating systems, please let me–and everyone else–know in the comments. Of course, please also leave a comment if you found a solution! I’ll add all advice to the How to Use Prezi page.
It seems a bit silly to write a review of Maus, because its greatness isn’t really a matter of opinion. It just is. So if this reads a little more like an advertisement, an effort to make sure everyone knows about this and has a chance to read it, then I hope you’ll understand.
Maus is a story about a man getting to know his father. Maus is a story about life as a Jewish man in Poland during the Holocaust. Maus is a story about a difficult family relationship. Maus is a story about mental health. Maus is a story about survival. Maus is a story about how essential, life-saving behaviors and habits can seem ludicrous when survival is no longer a struggle. Maus is a story about how trauma affects us and how that in turn affects everyone around us. Maus is a story about how essential we are to one another, even when we can’t stand each other. Maus is a story about marriages. Maus is a story about loss. Maus is a story about the overwhelming presence of absence. Maus is a story about immigration. Maus is a story about ingenuity. Maus is a story about real, living history.
Maus is a great book and an amazing comic. Just go read it already.
Just a warning that if things don’t look right on the site for the next… while, try giving it a few minutes and refreshing the page. I’m furiously working behind the scenes to get the site ready for the launch of the first issue of The Outbreak. But every once in a while, my changes spill out in front of the curtain.
It’s a learning curve and, like all learning curves, a damn frustrating one.
The good news is that when it’s done, you’ll have a new comic to read!
In other news, the reading I did with Paging Columbus last week went very well, I think. It was wonderful to see so many friendly and supportive people there. I should have a video of the event to post soon!
Read my reviews on