By Cheryl Ross
© June 25, 2009
From the comfort of a plush, leather chair in his waterfront home, Danny Donovan created an eight-page comic tale of a foiled romance set in Japan.
About 1,000 action figures, from Batgirl to Spider-Man, stood over him as he wrote.
Now, months later, Donovan anxiously approaches his computer. Dozens of times a day, he clicks on www.zudacomics.com and hopes he'll see the number 1 next to his story, "Kogoshii," a "mesh between the cartoony Japanese style and the more realistic Western style."
That number would mean he's winning an online competition in which readers are casting votes for their favorite strips. The winner gets a contract with DC Comics to expand his or her tale online.
I n recent days, when Donovan finds his story, he sees it's ranked fourth.
His action figures can only help him with so much.
"We're getting at the end of the road, and it's getting kind of scary," he says.
The competition ends at noon Tuesday.
Donovan, who says he is "28 going on 12," wants to be a regular contributor to DC Comics.
He's the guy who conceives and writes a comic story. He can't draw for anything. The artist Gigi, based in North Carolina, brought his "Kogoshii" vision to illustrative life.
The boyish creator shares his Olde Towne home with seven cats, a dog, his action figures, mother and younger brother. The three pitch in on the rent.
The leather chair Donovan sat in as he created "Kogoshii" was one of his many "trash finds." Others include his computer monitor, desk, and the cracked street lamps that illuminate his small room, an homage to the world of comic book heroes.
A curtain featuring Superman, a yard sale or flea market buy - he doesn't remember which - covers his bedroom's French doors.
Donovan lived in Portsmouth as a child, but his family moved around to places as close as North Carolina and as far as England, with stops back in Portsmouth.
His one constant: "Peter Parker was Spider-Man, Bruce Wayne was Batman. No matter where I wound up, I found my old friends at the newsstand."
Donovan has been freelancing for about 10 years. These days, he conceives and writes comic stories mainly for small, independent publishers.
Among other endeavors, he says, he wrote briefly for Marvel Comics. He also co-created the comic anthology "9-11 Emergency Relief." Proceeds supported the Red Cross' efforts to help victims of Sept. 11.
In "Kogoshii," his latest work, a young woman and man who hail from different clans - she comes from assassins, he is part of a group of thieves - fall into a love seemingly doomed because of the conflicts arising from their different backgrounds.
The story leaves the reader with questions.
"If you have a good, strong cliffhanger, people may be more inclined to vote" for your story, Donovan says.
If you deem his comic the best among the competitors, he hopes that's what you'll do.
Cheryl Ross, (757) 446-2443, email@example.com