Showing Off Eleanor

A decade ago, Jason Gurley began the story of Eleanor during an all-night road trip as an exercise to keep himself awake. Since that night, Eleanor’s story has evolved into a webcomic about faith, dreams, and self-awareness. The content’s good – but how does the artist get people to see it?

The ongoing graphic novel of “the story of a girl who never stopped falling” launched a month ago, but has been written in Gurley’s head for quite a while. The main character, Eleanor, had a terrible accident when she was 14 that put her into a coma.

Her experience in that coma was, as the author puts it, “the kind of epic, otherworldly, amazing experience that kind of f’s up reality for you.” While recovering, she dreams about the fall every night, and tries to duplicate the magic she felt every day. As she grows into a woman and mother, she works to find satisfaction in her life and relationships without being in her incredible dream world.

The comic explores the author’s struggle with faith as he examined the beliefs he grew up with compared to how he views the world as an adult. It is also a study in dreams and un-dreams, the dividing line between them, and the consequences of living in a dream world, along with why you might choose to live in one forever if you could. The artwork is as interesting as the storyline – Gurley has been drawing since he was 6, and winning awards for his artwork since the third grade.

So, there’s this awesome story and art in the vast sea of internet. How do you get people’s attention when they have more choices than there are split ends on a wampa?

The two largest avenues for a new graphic novel are Twitter and Facebook, since everyone and their grandparents are on there. (Even though my Grandpa doesn’t know how to update his FB page, he’s still got one.) These 2 sites are simple and visible (and free), and let the author share his work with a huge audience (and then that audience can share with their audience, and so on).

Since April, 125 followers have become fans of Eleanor’s Facebook page, and 288 have subscribed to her Twitter feed. (Okay, it’s Gurley’s feed, but it’s all about lady-E.) These sites also make it easy to identify other webcomic creators and participate in the larger comic community. For instance, E-train’s been featured on The Fabler‘s fb page.

Both Facebook and Twitter also offer channels to distribute loads of sketches and wallpapers, as well as sneak peeks (including some of the iPad app).

The iOS app is due out in October, and promises Eleanor a whole new audience. Mr. Gurley‘s plan is to release it for $2.99, and once the app is purchased, chapters will be downloaded automatically when they’re complete. It’s a similar idea to Dark Horse’s Sin City and Serenity comics, which have received rave reviews.

Eleanor‘s getting traction through the turtle method: slow and steady work through social networking and tech. (That was the lesson from that story, right?) And hopefully, the excellent work will cut through the murky net of inter, and gain more traction.

Nicki Wright

Showing Off Eleanor