I started Bricks of the Dead at the beginning of 2010, although this silly little zombie comic actually began it’s life in late 2009 on another website under the name “Lego My Brains”. All told, I’ve worked on it for close to nine years, which is a hell of a long time. Let’s look at what we’ve accomplished in that time:
Bricks of the Dead by the Numbers
- 844 in-canon comics
- 149 guest, special, and behind-the-scenes comics
- Roughly 36,000 comments
- 400+ reviews
- Roughly 3.5 Million page views
- 328,900+ lifetime visitors
- Visitors from over 190 countries and territories
A Brief History
It wasn’t originally my intent to make an ongoing story, let alone one that would last for years. I originally intended Bricks of the Dead to be a sort of little experiment. I figured I’d make a couple of comics, which would be the equivalent of twenty to forty episodes, and call it quits. As I’ve mentioned a time or two here, what I really wanted to do was make some short stop-motion videos using LEGO, and I saw this as a way of learning the photography basics to let me get there. The problem was that I ended up having a lot of fun putting together those initial comics, and wasn’t getting anywhere with stop motion. The next step was obvious: forget about video, and make a webcomic.
I had a rough idea of a story, but that ended up being quickly abandoned as I started shooting and assembling episodes. In my original outline, things got pretty silly. Stewart was going to raid a comic book store, steal a katana, and end up killed by zombies when his sword – a non-functional wall-hanger – broke. Eventually, the remaining survivors would make their way to a farm, where they would be besieged by a huge group of zombies. The only way out? Hop into the driver’s seat of the combine harvester, and plow through the zombie mob.
I decided to go for a slightly more grounded approach, although things did still get pretty ridiculous from time-to-time.
Things I Wish I had Done Differently
Throughout my time making Bricks of the Dead, I made a lot of mistakes. I won’t go into the technical challenges I could have handled differently, since there are loads of those and they’re pretty boring. Instead, I’d like to look at things from a planning and writing perspective.
When I began the comic, I did have a rough outline of where things would be going. The problem was twofold. First, the outline was far, far too rough. I should have invested more time and done a complete outline, and better organize things into arcs. Second, I abandoned my outline whenever a better idea struck me. In retrospect, I should have had that better outline, but also made room within it to explore new ideas.
Another regret I have is the way I handled certain characters. I introduced a lot of characters that only had limited use. They were there to move the story in a certain direction, or to explore different ideas. They weren’t fully formed characters, and so they would often drop out of the story, never to be seen again. Clearly, you readers also had problems with this. The biggest complaint I’ve had since announcing the story was drawing to a close is that I never wrapped up Inez, Clark, Barb, and many others.
I also wasn’t great with tonal consistency. I largely tried to tell a serious story with the comic, but one that would also hit on every zombie story cliche and trope I could manage. From time to time, however, the seriousness would drop and things would get downright wacky. Remember the guy with the chainsaw? Yeah, I could have handled that better.
This, then, is the end. It wasn’t how the comic was originally going to end, but as the years rolled by, my goals changed quite a bit. Instead of ending with a big zombie showdown, I wanted to end by focusing on how much the story had changed some of the characters. I focused on three: Sam, Cheryl, and Murphy.
Sam has long been my favorite character in the comic, so I ended up addressing his story arc a while ago. He was a confident guy that wasn’t terribly capable, suffered horrifically for it, and had to build himself back up to be able to hack life in the new zombie world.
Murphy was someone who thought he could get through anything by being authoritative and decisive. It largely worked for him, but along the way he witnessed how unpredictably people reacted to the new world. An old friend became a monster, while another gladly risked his life to help. This knocked a lot of the brashness away.
Finally, we have Cheryl. She’s always been direct, but she’s also been the character striving to bring people together toward a common goal. Along the way, a lot of people have died horrifically. Now, she’s much less interested in getting buy-in from people, and not afraid to get her hands dirty to protect, or avenge, her friends.
This is where the story ends, but the characters will live on. Their world hasn’t changed. It’s still dangerous, and becoming more so by the day. Soon, easy-to-access resources will begin to become scarce, and things will get really tough.
Someday I might return to these characters, and check in to see how they’re holding up. I don’t have any firm plans on that at the moment, but I suspect that I’ll want to revisit the little world I invested so much time in over the years.
So What’s Next?
Now that Bricks of the Dead has wrapped up, what am I going to be doing to keep myself off all the hard drugs? Well, I’ll likely check in on comments here for a while, especially the AMA page I setup. But beyond that, I’m going to be moving on to other projects.
One of those projects is a new blog I started called GameDevRookie, where I’m going to try to teach myself how to build some simple games and blog about the entire experience. My first project, naturally, will be zombie themed. The posts will be longer than at Bricks of the Dead, and consequently come a little less frequently. If that sounds interesting to you, please stop by.
A Huge Thank You
Finally, I want to say thank you all. I couldn’t have kept this silly little comic going for all this time if I didn’t have people like you that were interested in the story and fun to talk to. Bricks of the Dead was a lot of work, and having all of you coming here week after week made it all worthwhile. I know some of you are disappointed in how I’m wrapping things up, and I’m sorry about that. I do hope you come to remember the things you liked about the comic and its humble create, and forget about they way he screwed everything up at the end because he’s a big dumb idiot.