Disabled Artist Writes, Draws and Letters Comic by Mouth


There are a lot of comic book projects looking to get funded through Kickstarter. Some of them — like Womanthology and Sullivan's Sluggers — have been phenomenally successful, earning right around $100,000.

Dark Zoey, a black-and-white horror comedy, isn't one of the site's splashier offerings — no big-name pros attached to contribute, and no lavish incentives for high-dollar donors. But regardless of content, it's still one of the most unique prospective comics out there because of how it's being produced.

The book's creator, Larime Taylor of San Jacinto, Calif., was born with arthrogryposis, a congenital disorder profoundly affecting the muscles and joints. Taylor uses a wheelchair and has severely limited range of motion in his limbs, meaning that conventional illustration methods aren't an option. That hasn't stopped him from taking on Dark Zoey solo, writing, drawing and lettering the comic by mouth, with the aid of a Wacom Cintiq tablet.


"I'm 36, and I'm disabled, and living on Social Security," Taylor told Newsarama. "I can't go like this for the rest of my life, something has to change. I just decided, I'm going to sit down and work every day on my art until I'm good enough, and I'm going to do comics, because I can draw from the moment that I get up to the moment I go to bed, and enjoy it. It's the only thing that doesn't get me burned out and stressed out."

Taylor, whose Kickstarter page says he lives on $750 a month, has long pursued creative outlets, originally with a background in playwriting and stage directing. He decided to create comics based on his own appreciation for the medium — citing The Walking Dead, Fell and A Distant Soil among his influences — and his desire to tell more serialized stories.

Producing Dark Zoey solo was a move partly made out of necessity. Based on a long-percolating idea, the comic originally was to be illustrated by Duncan Eagleson — who previously collaborated with Taylor on an unfinished project named Hollow, and has worked on comics including Sandman and Shade the Changing Man — and colored by Taylor's wife, who is also disabled. Taylor, who had experience as a caricature and portrait artist, decided to draw the comic himself when he realized he couldn't afford Eagleson's page rate, and took up the book's grey tones when his wife's health left her unable to work on the comic.


"I decided if I'm going to do a comic, I don't want to be dependent on anyone else," said Taylor, who is working with an editor on his script. "I don't want to have a penciler, or a letterer or a toner. I want to do it all by myself, so it's on me."

Taylor acknowledged that there was a bit of a learning curve in attempting sequential art for the first time, admitting that he still has a ways to go with action sequences and backgrounds. But he's pleased with his progress, and said that in a day he's able to draw, tone and letter a complete page, sometimes more — a rapid rate by industry standards.

"In the last three to six months my art has really grown quickly," Taylor said. "I can look at stuff I did six months ago, and things I did now, and it looks like a different artist. Every page and every character sketch is getting better, so I'm pleased with the fact that while I like what I'm doing, I know that I'm only going to improve, and that makes me happy."

Taylor has already more than doubled his original Kickstarter goal of $1,500, with five days left to go. He's now upped the ante, stating that if he gets to $5,000 by the deadline, he'll do three Dark Zoey issues in a single 54-page volume.


Following the Kickstarter, Taylor hopes to produce the comic as an 18-page-an-issue ongoing monthly series (emulating the Fell format) at a creator-owned publisher, and eventually make his way to full-time status as a professional comic book creator, which, as any "how to break into comics" convention panel will tell you, is a difficult feat for anyone.

"I think it's one of the least likely careers," Taylor said. "I wish I was a scientist or something like that, it'd be a lot easier, but I'm an artist and a storyteller, so comics are pretty much what I can do."

Taylor said he's received words of encouragement from comic pros including Gail Simone, Kurt Busiek and Jamal Igle, and he's also set up an Indiegogo campaign to help raise money for supplies like new stylus pens for his tablet, and RAM to update his computer. Any excess money would go to clothing and household items.

"My goal is to be comfortable, to not have to worry about my utilities being turned off tomorrow, or how I'm going to eat," Taylor said. "If I can do that by drawing comics, that would be great." 

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