Brian Conoley’s comic series Minds of My Own began, inauspiciously, with an unsuccessful pitch to a major comic book publisher. Conoley has since come to see that rejection as an integral part of getting the project off the ground. Making the pitch meant creating a rough map for the progression of the story as a whole, leaving him with a clear plan of action using independent funding, if not a publishing deal.
“You move from looking at the big picture to the small details, and with each step you focus in closer” he explains, describing the scripting process.
In a similar fashion, the creation of Minds of My Own has, with each step, sharpened Conoley’s focus. While still open to the big picture of major publishers, he has met with great success through his efforts in crowdfunding and grassroots promotion. The future of the series will be primarily tied to platforms such as Patreon, and to sales through local comic festivals and shops.
After connecting with artist Melissa Vienneau, Conoley self-published the first issue of Minds of My Own in summer 2016, and the series will, if all goes according to plan, consist of three interlocking narratives told across arcs of six to eight issues each.
The story is that of Jeremy Kane, a convicted murderer suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder, wherein a dark and violent personality has taken control of mind and body. Locked in the subconscious, the person who once was Jeremy Kane is forced to bear witness to a series of heinous acts that lead to his death by lethal injection.
But the death of the murderer is only the opening scene of Minds of My Own. Jeremy re-awakens in the morgue, free of the psychopathic personality that had trapped him in his own mind, and is left to rise from the ashes in a city that recognizes his face as that of a monster.
The first issue leaves much to be desired in terms of answers, but it leads the reader towards the right questions in order to whet the appetite for more. Most fundamental is the question of Jeremy’s resurrection; the inner logic of the narrative so far suggests that it is purpose, not chance, that brings him back from the dead—but to what end is not yet clear.
This issue’s primary strength is the first person narrator, whose tone is familiar, instructive and, at the same time, ominous. It draws the reader in and yet it feels removed from the story, which introduces an element of tension that the other elements of the comic are lacking.
The pacing in particular is slow for an introductory issue and seems too committed to expanding upon small moments, thus sacrificing any sense of momentum. But as a freshman effort for both writer and illustrator, Minds of My Own shows great potential for improvement as Conoley and Vienneau grow as a team.
Although this past Friday (Dec. 8th) heralded another rejection letter, this time regarding a provincial grant, Conoley’s ultimate goal remains the same: to tell his story to completion.
“The grant would have allowed Melissa and I to self-publish the first issue [and several of the following] in a collected volume as our next step,” says Conoley.
“Now that step will likely change to completing and self-publishing a single run of issue two.”
Going forward, the focus will be on sharing the story with as many people as possible, in a continued bid for funding or even publishing.
The east coast, and Fredericton in particular, has already demonstrated belief in its potential with enthusiastic support from myriad sources. The first issue of Minds of My Own was self-published with funding from a successful 2016 Indiegogo campaign.
One of the benefits of the Maritimes, according to Conoley, is that “there are lots of little communities you can tap into,” and the life that his comic book has taken on is testament to that fact.
He remains optimistic as he looks toward another potential round of crowdfunding and whichever way that goes, he will, ultimately, be content with the outcome. In his words, “I love what I’m doing out here [on the east coast], so everything else is icing on the cake.”