Art by Allen Freeman. ©2010 Allen Freeman

The basic concept of Last Kiss hasn’t changed much over the years: old romance comics with funny new dialog.

But there have been changes to the look and feel of the series. The most obvious are that the color is better and the gags are shorter. (And hopefully funnier.)

Short didn’t come easily, though. My source material–old romance comics–were talkative. Verbose. Bombastic. Gabby. Garrulous. And even wordy.

I liked imitating that style. It was fun to cut loose and write long. Not that I had a choice. After all, when I removed the old text from the original comics, I had to replace it with something. Otherwise, I’d end up with a hole in the art.

If I was an artist, of course, I could’ve just drawn something to fill the holes. And if it was something easy, I did. But anything that required any real talent (faces, hair, etc.)  was beyond me. So I had to pile on the text.

Eventually, though, I hired Allen Freeman. At first it was just to color–which he does brilliantly! But then it dawned on me–hey, Allen’s an artist. A good artist. Maybe he can draw in those missing bits in the art.

Eureka! I finally had the freedom to write gags–without worrying about filling the “holes.”

(Click on images below to see: 1) original romance art; 2) my first attempt in 1996 to write Last Kiss text for this image; and 3) my latest version of the image–with color and extra art by Allen Freeman.)

I’m still struggling to be brief. (Gotta wrap this up soon!) But it’s a lot easier now because of Allen. He literally fills in the blanks for me.

(Below: Left–an image before Allen worked his magic; Right–magic courtesy of Allen.)

So I wanted to take a moment to give Allen some well-deserved praise. When he’s not making me look good, Allen stays busy with a seemingly endless number of other projects: illustrator, publisher, web designer, photographer and filmmaker. I get exhausted just thinking about it!