When I titled this comic in 1997, I should have forseen the future and called it "The Endless Comic." I don't really blame myself for dragging it out like I did. Once I completed the first 10 pages and designed the original Bob's Comics website specifically for displaying the comic strip, I began my senior year at high school and put Blake and Dustin on hold. I like to think of it as a seasonal comic--summer specific...something I'd pick up and add to when I found the time and inspiration. The result after 2 years of work is somewhat disappointing to me, because I don't see it as a whole--rather in the 3 segments that I drew the full 22 pages in. The first 10 pages are ground-breaking in terms of the full spectrum of my comic career. I went from the simple format of Lunch Break to a rather complicated layout more true of the comic book style, but not quite there. Either way, inspired by motivation from friends I made at Carnegie Mellon Pre-college in 1997, I revived Blake and Dustin--who had been dead in the comic scene for 2 years. I had a long story in mind and planned on breaking the 25-page mark. Looking back, the drawings are somewhat crude, and my inking ability struggled the precision I wanted to get. But overall, I think it is extremely well drawn in many other ways.

Moving on to the Second Installment, and the very end of the first 10 pages, I explored a new framing element as I experimented more with the layout and design aspects of every page. I was successful and unsuccessful in some aspects. Page 10 is somewhat disappointing because I drew it a month after Page 9 and the two do not compliment each other. I absolutely detest Page 16 and came very close to redrawing it. I see it as a visual mess without much direction and coherence. But all in all, you can see how my style jumps from point to point throughout the entire strip. I now focus a great deal on the initial impact and look of every page, and then its success at telling the narrative. Its a great way to view my change in style and approach, and how I have grown over the past two years as a visual artist. I feel one of my biggest accomplishments of the Final Five is a new comic book tip I've applied to layer the characters on top of each other to establish a new depth of space (near and far), which can be seen especially well on Page 18 and Page 21. Its more cinematic than anything, and helps save on space within the comic frame. Try reading the comic all the way through and see how the style changes disrupt the flow. This is my only regret in drawing the comic over 2 years.

And finally, before I get into the story itself, take a peak at the first and last pages of the comic (Page 1 and Page 22) and see how they compare. Believe me, it was very intentional. Hopefully it helps complete the comic in a round-about way. Yes, the endless cycle of Blake's dismay :)

Did it really happen?

If you've read any of my other strips, you'll notice that they remain generally true to life. The Bottomless Closet takes a different turn, dealing with interplanetary relations and bordering on science fiction. It's meant to feel imaginative, i mean, how would you feel if you opened your closet one day and saw what Blake did? Of course, being the reader, I've left it up for you to decide what's really going on. I see two major possibilities, if you really want to read much into a comic strip (God forbid!!!). The first is pretty obvious: it all happened the way it did...Blake, Dustin, and Becca have had a close encounter with extra-terrestrial life. But the more interesting--the reading I intended to get from intelligent readers--is that out of sheer boredum, the three kids imagined the whole thing to help pass away the time on a rainy day. Hard to swallow? Well, let me explain...

Right from the get-go, we see Blake and Dustin struggling to find something to do after playing cards didn't work out so hot. When Dustin suggests to play a board game, you can tell that Blake isn't amused, and as he walks over to the closet, for a split second (frame) he stairs into the black space. With the first bellowing scream--the daydream begins. He can't find anything in his closet! (because he doesn't want to) Dustin is skeptic at first, but once they test it with a yell and a coin, he too believes and Blake denotes it a "bottomless closet."
And so the two begin to spin the tale. They talk about what it means to have a bottomless closet...why it's there and what are the consequences. On Page 5 Dustin adds to the story by suggesting it could be a portal to another world--if things can be dropped into it, why couldn't things come out? This is the first of the "predictions" in the comic that come true, because as you will see, whatever anyone pre-suggests usually ends up really happening. And this is my primarily tool for suggesting the imaginative truth that is the rainy afternoon. Each subliminal suggestion furthers the compliling nature of the story--each leading to the next.
After Blake sits in his room, contemplating what Dustin said about the dimensional portal, he goes over to shut the door and then THUD! there's something in his closet. The next prediction that slips out of Dustin's mouth is when he asks "how the little guy is doing" and then mentions that they don't need any "hostile aliens running around" his bedroom. So, what do they stumble upon when they return to the room and open the door? A little alien, who we eventually find out is indeed of some hostile/criminal nature. So, like little kids do when they play, the story builds as their imaginations explode. And true to my comic strips, Blake always overreacts and Dustin is either calm and at ease or a blatant idiot.
When Becca arrives, after Blake says "what more can happen?"...the little visit turns into a chaotic cover-up. Blake tells her to be quiet--she's her bratty and confident self, and eventually they get Commander Blipp tp spin his tale. When the need arises for stuffed animals, Becca is the first to question Blipp's idenity...when she tags him as a "closet-hopper." Yet another prediction that eventually unfolds. I'll admit, I added Becca to the story when I realized I wanted someone to foil the whole operation, and who else better to do it than I little sister? Plus, while Blake and Dustin venture off, she remains behind--for another purpose of course.
On the same page (which is Page 15), Blake has Becca stay behind, in case anything else comes through the closet. Here is where Becca adds to her "closet-hopper" prediction--angered by Blipp and his stuffed animal cravings--and decides to put an end to their little daydream by bringing in the I.C.P. So, each character has their own theory. Blake's idea was the bottomless closet, which eventually leads to Dustin's portal theory and Commander Blipp, and then finally, Becca's addition triumphs and silences the chaos around the closet. This is why she wins out in the end, when she insists that they have a tea party.

Like I said before, you can read into it as you wish. It's just as fun either way, but you have to admit how uncanny it is that all their little predictions come true. I included them for a reason, as you can see. In desperation for something to do on a rainy day, this is what they came up with--and in the world of children--it's just as real either way. I really enjoy the story, and I'm glad I finally got it finished. If by some luck, I ever did hit it big with Blake and Dustin, I'd redraw and rewrite the whole thing to perfection. But for now, you can see what I've done with these 22 pages.