Tony D'Amato's The Caretaker

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The Caretaker, a short story I published last month, didn't get its start as a short story. It began its life as a comic script, one that would explore the terrible loneliness that Alice Quayle experiences when she witnesses the end of the world from her space station. 

At the time that I wrote it, comics were a big part of my life. It's funny to think of that period now as a sort of diversion from writing books, but that's essentially what it was. I was producing a comic based on my in-progress novel Eleanor, and meeting other indie comics creators all the time.

One of the people I met was a stellar artist named Tony D'Amato. While we never met in person, we had some fun conversations about indie comics, and decided, finally, to collaborate on one or two. The first was to be The Caretaker. (The second, My Father Who Travels Through Time, may make an appearance in an anthology later this year, also as a short story.)

We never got very far with The Caretaker. Both of us had many other things going on – Tony was working as a storyboard artist for films at the time, and I was attempting to finish my Eleanor comic (I never did) – and The Caretaker never quite got past script and concept art phase. But now that I've turned the script into a story, I wanted to share a bit of what might have been.

So without ado, let me share with you Tony's concept art for the unproduced Caretaker comic:

Early concept sketches of Alice Quayle, our lonely heroine.

Early concept sketches of Alice Quayle, our lonely heroine.

I absolutely love the palette Tony used for this sketch.

I absolutely love the palette Tony used for this sketch.

A full-turn character study of Alice.

A full-turn character study of Alice.

One concept for Alice's spacesuit.

One concept for Alice's spacesuit.

Additional explorations of Alice's costume. (I love the jotted 'LOL' next to '60s Space Girl Alice.)

Additional explorations of Alice's costume. (I love the jotted 'LOL' next to '60s Space Girl Alice.)

Some of Tony's experiments with Alice's hair.

Some of Tony's experiments with Alice's hair.

More character and environment studies.

More character and environment studies.

Rough layouts for the actual comic. I love that horrified expression on Alice's face in the third panel.

Rough layouts for the actual comic. I love that horrified expression on Alice's face in the third panel.

More layouts. I think this would have been a beautiful page.

More layouts. I think this would have been a beautiful page.

Thumbnail sketches of the scene where Alice watches the war happening far below.

Thumbnail sketches of the scene where Alice watches the war happening far below.

More rough layouts of the same scene, with an approximation of the tone and palette.

More rough layouts of the same scene, with an approximation of the tone and palette.

I still hold out hope that Tony and I will be able to bring this story – or any story – to life some day. He's an immense talent, and while The Caretaker ultimately became something different, it's impressive and fun to look back at what it might have been. 

Oh, and here's a wonderful little bonus – Tony did a bit of fan art for my Eleanor comic, a pin-up of Eleanor herself:

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Be sure to follow Tony if you like his art – he has a wonderful collection of it on Tumblr