Monday, March 14, 2011


A long time ago, I promised myself once LOVE BUZZ was published, I would find the time to write down the story behind the story. For all I know, the journey in getting the book made might very well be more interesting than the book itself. It's officially been 10 years now, since I first conceived the project and set out to make it tangible, and now here I sit, ready to lay bare for all you budding comic makers out there, the hardships and triumphs of getting published in this fickle industry. From starry eyed beginnings to that triumphant yet punch drunk moment when you finally hold the first copy of your blood, sweat, and tears in your hands and everything in between, this is the story of LOVE BUZZ. The journey that myself, Michelle, Dave, Thomas, and a slew of other people who joined and encouraged us along the way as we forged on over the eight year period to it's completion. It's a long story, which I will break up into six parts along the coming weeks. A nice little companion piece we'll be sharing along the way, with the help of Tim Simmons and the Comic Book Script Archive is the original script I wrote for LOVE BUZZ dating back to 2004. This original draft, clocking in at very nearly 300 pages, includes numerous things that were cut from the book that finally saw print from Oni Press. Needless to say, we cut a significant bit of story out of the final product to get it down to the 184 page mark. I consider sharing the original scripts to be a gift to other young writers out there, to help them appreciate the importance of the editorial process. 

We'll start our story with the same words that have begun so many others before it...


I first conceived of LOVE BUZZ as a long haired young rascal who looked something like this...

My first job as a filing clerk for an insurance firm had eventually yielded me the thousand dollars I would need to buy myself a top of the line (for it's time) digital video camera, as a couple of high school buddies of mine and I sat up a few late nights on weekends, coming up with ideas for short films and features we mostly never got around to producing. These late night gatherings did however inspire me to go off and write a trio of never produced scripts that still sit in the bottom of a drawer somewhere in my house. My first finished work, MIND IS A ROLLING THUNDER, a title I will freely admit that even I don't know what it's supposed to mean, but used because it sounded cool at the time, LEADERS AND FOLLOWERS, a concept I some day look forward to revisiting, about two rival high school "know-it-alls" seeking to rig an election for Class President with their own Manchurian Candidates, and finally, a script called LOVE BUZZ, which share's only two things in common with the book that's in stores now. The title, and the name of it's main character, Norm Raymer.

The original LOVE BUZZ was a story written by a guy who'd known nothing about love, and had only been out on maybe two dates with a girl who ended up getting tired of him and moving onto another guy. Convinced that my first time getting dumped was the end of the world, I began to set pen to paper writing Love Buzz. This first version had Norm getting dumped by a very different version of Maggie Gunther, who went off to date some dude with a Motorcycle, while leaving Norm to ponder what comes next, until he met a girl named Christina who was something else all together more special. The first LOVE BUZZ was written by a man with no experience in the realm of love. Regardless, I showed it to a few friends, who all said they really enjoyed it, including the girl who would become the basis for Maggie in the final incarnations of LOVE BUZZ, and the reinforcement from them kept me going and wanting to write.

Despite my film making dreams dying early, what was done was done. I had officially spent the last two years of my high school career dicking around in class, writing stories and movies that never got made and making wreckage of my GPA. Despite the fact that those things I had written are things that I can now look back and cringe upon, the writing bug had bitten me hard and there was no going back for me. Not everyone figures out what they want to do with the rest of their lives at the age of 16, but I had. I didn't know where I would go from there, but I knew that by sheer determination and refusal to quit, I could get there. My on again, off again relationships with the girl I based Maggie upon stayed rocky for some time, which is all pretty well documented within the book itself, so I'll just skip the back story on that and tell you if you haven't already, to go buy LOVE BUZZ right now off Amazon. 

So, doing a movie was out, at least for the moment. As much as I love reading prose, the idea of writing something as elaborate as a book made my testicles retract up into my body, so that was out. Plus, I had already spent so many months writing the ever bulging screenplay for LOVE BUZZ, which had grown well over the 90 to 120 page limit of most rom-com scripts and by all measures was still growing. It was around this time that I had gotten back into reading comic books in a big way after an several year hiatus, in which I had discovered that girls thought guys who read comics were dorky and unkissable. (Thank God THAT’S not the case anymore, amIright?)

     My realms of comic reading had broadened considerably as I discovered there was more beyond the cape and tights set. Books like Craig Thompson's BLANKETS, Chynna Clugston's BLUE MONDAY and particularly Sean McKeever, Mike Norton, and the Brothers Fraim’s THE WAITING PLACE had begun to made a great cases for a bold format change and new direction for LOVE BUZZ. I had begun to doubt that I could find an artist crazy enough to commit to drawing an almost 300 page book for me, but that’s fine. I took some cartooning classes as a kid. How hard could it possibly be?

     Remember what I was saying about “a healthy dose of self-delusion”?



Friday, March 4, 2011


I'm very gracious and proud to bring everyone a peek at the next big thing from me at the moment. It's starting out small, but after multiple talks with the publisher, I hope people will check it out, because as time passes, I feel it could become something very big. 

"Growing up different can be difficult. Growing up like Cliffy Goldfarb or any of the other 1 in every 120 kids in the world born with a congenital heart defect can be harder. Living a life of rules and physical limitations is the norm for these children, making it harder for them to live a life most would consider 'normal'. A life limited of sports, climbing, and the overall rambunctiousness of being a kid like Cliffy can make you feel like the odd one out.

The summer after his first heart transplant, Cliffy's mother sends her nervous young son off to Camp Bravehearts. A place that's unlike any other summer camp, where kids with other varying conditions like Cliffy can be together to compare 'war wounds', and realize that maybe being 'normal' isn't all it's cracked up to be."

Written by Len N. Wallace
Illustrated by Brenda Liz López

Brought to you bi-monthly and ongoing in the pages of...

It's a story very close to my heart literally, as a grown adult who has lived his whole life with a congenital heart defect, and was given a very small life expectancy when I grew up. Camp Bravehearts is a real place that I've had the pleasure of counseling for over 14 years of my life now. While the Camp Bravehearts in the comic is a little more fictionalized than the real one, the feelings and emotions that come from the comics are very real. When GATHERING publisher Andrew Goletz asked me if I wanted to contribute something all-age appropriate to his new independent anthology series, I spent a couple weeks racking my brain to come up with an idea, until I came up with this idea. This is the most important story I never realized I wanted to tell.

Click here to get your copy of THE GATHERING #2, featuring our first installment of THE ZIPPER CLUB, as well as stories by Jeffrey Burandt (Americans UK), Brian Koschak (Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Gail Simone, (Birds of Prey, Secret Six) and many, many more talented creators. 

I encourage everyone to check out what Brenda and I are doing here, because it's something we're both very proud of. A very personal story from myself, as well as a chance to work with an artist I've been crazy about, and trying my damnedest to work with more and more in the last several years.

Best of all, this is only the beginning!