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This all started with a conversation after a surf, a breakfast burrito, and a few beers. Our lives were becoming filled with responsibilities to family, careers, and a thousand other little things that left us each on the couch every night saying “where did the day go?” We missed the time we once had to read epic novels, lay back and listen to entire albums, and explore our own ideas and talents. So one day, we thought let’s imagine, let’s make time, and let’s create something.

So we did. For the past two years we found the time. In between moves and having babies ... Taking our kids to school, day care, and practices... surfing, drinking, and eating... household chores and changing diapers... spreadsheets, power points, and business trips... we made time.

Just after a year and half into the project, we asked our friend JennaRose to edit our book. We were looking for someone who would be just as excited as us to work on this, and Jenna (being a complete and total sci-fi nerd, having read every young adult book ever written, and loving any movie with a strong female lead) was perfect for the job. Since we brought her on board, she has jumped in and embraced this project with the same amount of enthusiasm and energy as Brandon and I. This is also her first foray into book editing, something she has been interested in pursuing. Hopefully this project will open more opportunities for her!

We thank you for your support, and hope you enjoy reading our book as much as we enjoyed creating it!


Tommy & Brandon

About the Work

At it's heart, The Spirit & The Shadow is a paranormal suspense thriller. What is interesting about our project is the way we approached the reading experience and how it drove the style and format. This story presents a modified style to the graphic novel medium. We chose not to use dialog balloons. We chose not to use "sound effects" (i.e. crack! boom!) We chose not to use any internal dialog or thought balloons. We minimized the art to not replace the reader's imagination, but to guide it.

Our goal was to find a balance between the art and the words. To use the art to enhance and tell certain parts of the story, but not overwhelm it. During intense dialog, the reader should be focused on the words and not be sidetracked by the art.

 Conversely, during an action sequence, we want to literally paint the picture, and not have the reader taken away with a line or unnecessary sound effects. The dialog is written as a script would be with images inserted throughout and used exclusively during action sequences.

Sample pages from The Spirit and The Shadow

I have read comics and graphic novels for years. I personally love the medium, but I wanted to know why it was not as widely read as I thought it should be. With how popular Comic Book Movies and TV shows are ... why are not more people reading these books? Every time I fly (which I do a fair amount for work) I look at everyone reading - and I am the only one with a graphic novel.

So I went and I asked... the majority of the responses to me (after holding and looking at a book) was being overwhelmed. Where to start? - Not what issue... but literally, where to start reading on the page. How to follow the story? We have all been trained at a young age to read top to bottom, left to right. And while the comic medium primarily follows that, when you first look at a page you see everything and it can (for some, maybe most) turn someone off from even trying to read the book. I also found that people have their own imaginations and ideas of the way characters should look and what places look like. The art for some took away from their own imagination

As an avid comic reader myself. I can get some of what was said to me. It can be frustrating when you lose track of the sequence of the dialog balloons, or where to follow the panels or dialog over a two page spread. Often, I will read dialog out of sequence or miss critical pieces of the art (critical to the story) because of having "read over it".

The style we implemented allows you to read left to right, up to down the page, and break from the dialog to view the image. We found it gave us more control of the pacing and timing of certain aspects of the story.  

The book will only be released in digital format. This was driven by the high cost of color printing and the limitations associated with printed media. Ultimately it served our story for the better. By only creating an eBook, we did not have to compromise the page margins to fit multiple page sizes. We could create a single version optimized for a tablet screen. In addition, we could control when images are seen, controlling the impact of major revelations in the story. However, we did not want the reader to feel like they were continually "swiping" the screen to the point that it is distracting or annoying.

The Creative Goal

This story is meant to be fun and gritty. We want you to keep swiping the screen, waiting to see what is next, and trying to figure out which way is up.

We hope this "hybrid" style encourages both graphic novel readers and traditional prose style readers to try our book. We wanted our work to be something you can pick up and enjoy in its entirety in one sitting. We understand how important your time is. Time is precious. The time dedicated to all our responsibilities, leads to hard decisions on when and how to use our free time. We have tried our best to give you something you can escape into that will leave you with a complete story, but also wanting to know what happens next... and we promise you, there is a "next"!  


Writer - Comic Geek - Surfer -

Husband and Father 


Illustrator - Surfer - Craft Brewer - Photographer - Husband and Father


Editor - Scotch Drinker -

Sci-Fi Nerd - Loves Annabeth Gish

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