Smith Magazine has an excellent series going on about next-door neighbors. As the series editor Dean Haspiel says, ““Everybody has one. And, no matter how close or how far, we all live next to someone, and we all have a Next-Door Neighbor story.”
Over the past year, I’ve enjoyed reading all the stories posted in the series. It’s great to see the wide variety of art styles, tones, and storytelling techniques all linked to a common theme.
My story is about the drug dealer neighbor I had a few years back in Washington, DC. So far, I’ve mostly done light-hearted humor pieces or dark comedy satires so this was a real departure in writing style for me. Yet, the writing and thumbnails came out rather easily.
While the story is rather serious, it isn’t necessarily dark, and so I wanted to keep the art light and colorful. I’ve always enjoyed the work of Joshua Middleton — his covers are beautiful, but I really like his work on the short-lived Marvel book, NYX. I thought that a similar minimal inking style that lets color define the shadows and volume would help set the proper tone for my NDN story.
This past Thanksgiving, I had the chance to return to DC and visit my old apartment on Wallach Place. Not a whole lot has changed to the neighborhood. Some of the buildings have been restored and painted, but it still looks like a neighborhood with a conflicted sense of identity. Here’s a reference photo I took.