Lubbock Comic Makers Balance Life, Comics

Since discovering the world of comics as a child, Derrick Fleece dreamed of working with Marvel or DC Comics as an artist.

That dream has yet to come true, but over the past three years Fleece and Derek Moreland have worked together to create their own comic universe called Legends of Streaming.

“As far as the comics go, it’s really Derrick’s idea,” Moreland said. “He has the universe in his head.”

Legends of Streaming is based on fictional characters with supernatural abilities.

“So that was an origin story for superpowers,” Fleece said. “Those are the only two. This is gearing up for a five-issue series.

“This is only the first graphic novel. We want three full volumes for this story. It takes a little time.”

Especially balancing full-time jobs, he said.

Fleece said he started creating the comic book universe in college.

He graduated as a medical student and fumbled with the idea of ​​an artistic career after deciding he didn’t want to go to medical school.

“I became an art major for a year,” he said.

It was fun but expensive. Fleece was paying for his education out of pocket, he said. At that time, he was already married with a child on the way.

Instead, he went to nursing school and began the foundation of his professional healthcare career eight years ago.

But his passion for art and the world of comics never faded.

A few years ago, he said, he started compiling old sketches he made in college and laid the groundwork for his Legends of Streaming universe.

Then he met Moreland.

Moreland was working in the book section of one of Hasting’s Entertainment old stores, Moreland said, when he saw Fleece leafing through one of his favorite comic books.

“I said, ‘Hey, that’s a really good Hulk number,'” Moreland recalled. “We chatted a bit about comics. Two or three weeks later he comes and says “my wife thinks we should be friends”. I’m working on a comic. I’m an artist.’ I said “I am a writer”.

Fleece had already completed a dozen pages of illustrations based on a script he had created when Moreland had seen his work. But Fleece had trouble with a scene in what would become their first comic — “Legends of Streaming” number 1, Moreland said. Moreland helped.

Fleece’s only stipulation was that it had to be kid-friendly so his own children could read it.

“He read it and said ‘do you want to be my writer?’ Moreland called back. “I said yes.”

The partnership led to the creation of D&D Studios, and now they are two and a half issues away.

Moreland said scripts are ready for several future issues, but artwork is holding up production.

Each page is drawn and colored by hand, Fleece said.

“It takes a long time,” Fleece said. “It depends on your level of exhaustion the day after you stop working. Everything has to be balanced. »

Creating a full page of art takes him several days, he said.

“Just to make crayons for one page takes about nine hours, depending on the details,” Fleece said. “And I went faster. Then you have to go back and do the inking process, which clarified everything for the colors. And then the colors take longer and longer. So every page you look at is probably a full day’s work, if you had it available. »

But his work as an artist is not his primary objective.

It sometimes takes him several months to finish a few pages, he says. Apart from his work at Covenant Health, he also teaches taekwondo two days a week and has to find time to support and spend time with his four children and his wife.

A colleague described Fleece as “the energizing bunny”.

“I don’t sleep much,” Fleece said. “I mainly get about four or five hours of sleep. Mainly because you are doing what you have to do.

Moreland said he has a few projects in the works himself, and creating Legends of Streaming with Fleece has provided a learning curve. The writing of each comic has improved, he said.

Although they aren’t done with the Legends of Streaming series yet, Moreland said D&D Studios has been discussing the possibilities of expanding their universe in the future.

So far they have sold around 300 copies of their debut issue. They’ve toured the state peddling their work, including a booth at the recent Lubbock-Con, but it didn’t quite hit the profit point.

But for now, their goal is to please eager fans who are waiting for the completion of their second comic.

Fleece said one of the biggest lessons the experience has taught them is, “There are more nerds out there than you think.”

D&D studios – “Help D&D create their graphic novel!!”

Lisa M. Horner