"One of Us"
Originally, "One of Us" was written as the script for a proposed web comic strip collaboration between fanta-sizer artist BeakerFA and myself. The inspiration for the strip was an old "Dondi" comic that Beak had discovered about a mother who had intentionally fattened herself to hide from gangsters. We both wanted to do the story in a circus setting for all the visual possibilities - and, of course, because we both share a fondness for old circus fat lady photos - so with regular email feedback from the artist, I drafted up a seventy-five day script for the tale, sneaking in references to Klaus Nordling's classic Golden Age comic series, The Barker, as well as Tod Browning's infamous circus horror flick Freaks.
When I was writing the tale, I visualized the characters very much in a Will Eisner/Klaus Nordling mold (the latter was one of the ghost artists on Eisner's classic strip, "The Spirit," when its creator was in the service); when Beak read the final script, he started thinking of Chester Gould and the early "Dick Tracy," perhaps recalling a classic "Tracy" strip featuring midget villain Jerome Trohs and his super-sized moll enforcer Mamma. The latter approach might've better suited the story's Depression milieu (as Gould's strip debuted in 1931), though when I visualize the characters I still see Betty as a cousin to Nordling's wonderful circus fat lady Lena - and villain Louis T as one of Eisner's frog-faced gangster types.
I was pleased with the script, but, unfortunately (as seems to happen with any comic project to which my name gets attached), the comic was not to be. The artist became involved in some potential moneymaking projects, so "One of Us" was reluctantly placed on the back burner. Last summer, I wrote Beaker and asked if he had any issues with my taking our collaboration and turning it into a prose tale. He agreed, and so I began to work on a text-only version of Betty Bulge's story, to be accompanied by three BeakerFA graphics which offer a tantalizing glimpse of what might have been.
This, then, is the first public appearance of "One of Us" in any form.