A Lot of Words About

Childhood is often trespassed upon by what is not intended for children,
but nonetheless must be confronted by them.
This book is about some of those grown-up crudities and unavoidable truths of life,
hence the notice on the cover about adult themes and brief vulgarity.
"Li’l Lynn: The Joy of Childhood and Other Myths" is a book for adults to enjoy by themselves
and for children to experience with a bit of grown-up guidance.

"Li'l Lynn" was a project ten years in the making! ...in a manner of speaking. For half of that time, it was buried in the utter darkness of a footlocker, where it languished in an unfinished state and was not intended to again see the light of day or to feel the touch of fresh ink. However, we did not end up being so lucky, did we? Regardless, this history of "Li'l Lynn" is getting ahead of itself...

The project began as a brief, casual experiment with brush-drawing on cheap sketchbook paper, as Charles Shearer's graduation from the Savannah College of Art and Design was a month away, and his years-old college-era comics series was too unfocused in tone and format to be worth pursuing much further. Something fresh and new, consistent and accessible, carefully crafted and well planned was needed. What he made, instead, was "Li'l Lynn," mostly written and thumbnailed in a couple of cheap, spiral notebooks, though some of the preliminary sketches and all of the finished artwork were drawn on slightly better paper, which had the added benefit of being so much more expensive.

First ink test of Lynn Herr and Ashley Weir, done in a sketchbook, conspicuously dated 2006 May 4.
"The Lab Master & Kittyson Show" was not incorporated into "Li'l Lynn" until a few months later,
hence the generic pug graphic on Ashley's shirt. At least she had good taste.

The exhaustive writing and thumbnailing process for the first four pages,
presented in its overwhelming entirety... from a single sheet of 11" x 14" sketchbook paper.

Upon finding himself lost and left to his own devices in the real world, Charles intermittently continued "Li'l Lynn" for several years while necessarily prioritizing his time in pursuit of income, commodity, and purpose wherever he was willing to seek them. Art production in general was usually relegated to time off from low-paying physical labor, and was sometimes completely interrupted by injury, travel, and homelessness. Life was unstable, open-ended, adventurous, disastrous, experimental... anything might have happened, many things did, some things should not have. "Li'l Lynn" was just like that.

Though produced mostly during a dismal, dreadful blur in Charles's life, "Li'l Lynn" is not very miserable, but rather, is a reserved celebration of friendship and family (because you can choose your family, but not your friends), as well as an exploration of how childhood and adulthood support and encroach upon each other. What does it mean about humans, that families are prioritized and organized around the youngest, most vulnerable member? "Li'l Lynn" is about opposite approaches to how and why this happens: two very different women revolving around two very different girls in very different circumstances, yet there may be some kind of resonance to ring through all of them, if the reeds were bellowed in the right way.

LEFT: An ink-test from 2007 October 16, done in a sketchbook, as if for an actual page of the comic.
MIDDLE: If the pencil marks are not erased before scanning, the images are much more difficult to digitally clean up.
RIGHT: Such drawings are done in a way that will look correct in reproduction, not on the original paper.

A life not worth living is a life worth leaving, so Charles abruptly departed from his native United States and old lifestyle as a writer and artist, to be a foreign English teacher in South Korea: a position for which he was hardly qualified, in a country about which he had known almost nothing, before signing his life away. The unfinished "Li'l Lynn" spent five years in storage with other relics of ink and paper, and would have stayed there indefinitely, had Charles's new life abroad not come to a bitter end. Reluctantly repatriated, he soon began work on Runaway Weer, and eventually got around to unearthing and finishing "Li'l Lynn."

Getting "Li'l Lynn" published was a formidable ordeal of its own. Charles initially pursued this via submitting the material to comics publishers; collectively, his efforts were met with various types of rejection, ranging from delayed and ambiguous to immediate and clear. Growing weary of this treatment, Charles began learning about self-publishing and industry standards, making further use of the digital editing/layout practice that he had already been doing on his own. As it turned out, getting "Li'l Lynn" printed in some kind of book form was not very difficult; the bigger challenges were in designing the book in a widely distributable format, managing the legalistic business of ISBNs and barcodes, and finding a worthy printer. The first printer that he tried, though highly recommended to him, inexplicably delivered four defective test copies in a row; the quality being so irregular and unpredictable, Charles was unconfident that his readers would receive properly assembled copies of the book. He therefore looked elsewhere to do business, finding a printer that did correct work at less expense and greater speed, as well as with more convenience for customers.

On 2017 February 3, the first edition of "Li'l Lynn: The Joy of Childhood and Other Myths" was made available by print-on-demand on CreateSpace and Amazon. After close to eleven years of intermittent production and post-production, "Li'l Lynn" could finally begin to reach an audience.

The front and back covers of the first edition.

The printed book alongside the original artwork.

The original artwork was stored in this suitcase during Charles's five years abroad.
This texture seemed fitting, therefore, as a background for the book's first edition in print.
For comparisons of size and composition, the original artwork is displayed alongside the final cover.

Absolutely nothing strange about this photo.

Another formidable challenge awaited, though: distribution. Left on his own to go about this, Charles shopped it around; the first store to carry the book was Gutter Pop Comics in Buffalo, NY, and the first library to make it publicly available for reading was the Buffalo Zine Library in a performance/gallery space called Sugar City. Other book stores were glad to accept a sample copy of "Li'l Lynn" but left Charles waiting months without any reply, while a couple of other libraries would not even return contact; the book was rejected by Diamond Comics Distributors, mainly on the grounds that its subject matter is "unmarketable" in comic book stores. Such is the challenge of seeking a place in an industry without wishing to fit into one of its broad stereotypes. Setbacks of this kind help Charles to narrow down his search for a conducive market.

On the front shelf at Gutter Pop Comics in Buffalo, NY.