About Swan Eaters
I wrote Swan Eaters between 2011-2013, after a fever dream during a bout of the flu. It was a very funny, very scary nightmare about a little old hag trying to look after a group of children. The kids kept stealing her spell book and summoning bigger and more ridiculous monsters through a portal they'd scratched out on the floor in crayon. Soon the exasperated old crone was catching crawling babies and running children, battling back an ever increasing gruesome menagerie in a very "that episode of 'I Love Lucy' with the chocolates" way. Wanting to know more about her and her family, I spent the rest of my sickness resting and sketching. A week or two before, a friend had told a story about a man he worked with complaining that growing up his town had prized their swans in the park. One year a family came to town and ate them, causing an uproar. The story stuck in my head, this entire town furious at a family for eating their swans. This tale began weaving itself into my drawings. By the time I recovered, the first 10-15 strips of Swan Eaters were finished.
Swan Eaters found a small but devoted following, and I was so grateful for them. It was not an easy comic to market! The best way to describe it is "supernatural adventure soap opera." It is a bit like 'The Patridge Family' meets 'Dark Shadows.' The true heroes of the comic are an old woman, two little girls, a giant monster, and a lonely teen boy who finds friendship with rats. The father is a swindler. The mother is apathetic and needy, and does not support or understand her daughters' fierce independence. The estranged uncle has returned and struck up a doomed relationship with his brother's adult step daughter. Monsters eat villagers to save the day and the grandmother has outstanding, terrible powers. Some of the characters are unlikable and say awful things. Moments in the comic are downright frightening. --Still, the Hawker Family found a place on the Internet, and it was supportive and welcoming. They saw the courage, love, and loyalty to friends and family in the Hawkers' dark hearts. Grandma Hawker tries to do the best by her clan and steer them in the right direction, and readers rooted for her all the way. They watched Salem and Clover Hawker practice spells and summonings and praised their successes. Everyone hoped Ivan would learn kindness one day... (To date, he has not). And most of all, readers wanted to see Vesper and Wigglesworth finally confess their feelings to each other.
When my son was born, I put Swan Eaters on what I hoped would be a brief hiatus. The comic paused at one hell of a cliffhanger and readers were impatient to find out the fates of their heroes. And then inspiration struck for my comic 'Breaking Cat News', and lightning struck shortly after. BCN was syndicated online, a newspaper development deal was signed, and we were debuting on GoComics all within a year. Swan Eaters got placed on the back burner, with apologies to its readers. They mostly understood (it helped that many of them began to read BCN too!) they were patient, and they have waited this long. I hope so much that when the cliffhanger rolls around for a second reading, I can add to the comic and finish it for them this time! It's a tricky thing to promise while writing another daily comic, but I hope to try my best!
It's hard to share older work, I see a lot of mistakes I wish I could fix. Swan Eaters taught me a lot about cartooning, story arcs, pacing out a joke--and there are some growing pains here and there. For one thing, sometimes the art is inconsistent. I was still playing around with the art style, even up until the hiatus. I had a lot of room to test out new material, and sometimes this was a good thing, a few times it was not. In the beginning of the comic, the Hawkers were sometimes referred to as gypsies, and later they were only called witches. I've gone back and changed that, not only to make the writing and the plots more consistent, but also because I learned through writing this comic that the word 'gypsy' has a hurtful history. I named Swan Eaters for an unfair name some villagers call the Hawkers, not understanding I was throwing around a harmful term myself. From the cradle to the grave, we make a lot of mistakes and I believe that amending those mistakes the best we can is part of why we're here at all. This is one of my amendments!
I hope you will tune in and delight in every joke, adventure, and magical elixir the Hawkers have to offer! If it's not your cup of tea, I understand, that's ok! If this IS your cup of tea, you're in luck. Grandma and Clover (and myself) love a good cup of tea and it's best when shared with friends! Enjoy!