A Chat With Len Peralta and Jessica Mills About UComics: The Comic Starring You!

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Image: Len Peralta

Have you ever wanted to be the star of your very own comic? Well, now it can happen with the help of artist Len Peralta and writer Jessica Mills. They can’t give you super powers, but they can create a one-page, five-panel comic all about you.

You might recognize Len as the man behind the incredibly popular Geek a Week card series that features some of your favorite geeks as trading cards complete with a custom picture and stats. There are geeks like Jonathan Coulton as an Internet Rockstar/Zombie Killer and Grant Imahara as a Mythbuster/X-Wing Pilot.

Jessica Mills is most well-known for her work on the webseries Awkward Embraces which chronicles the journey of a single geek-girl trying to find her way through life and love. As a genuine geek girl herself, the show draws on some of her own experiences and is a hilarious look at the ups and downs of geek dating.

These two talented and very geeky individuals came together through Len’s Geek a Week project and the miracle of the internet. “Randomly, a guy named Rob who had seen Awkward Embraces and followed me on twitter, tweeted, ‘Hey Len, you should put Jessica in your Geek a Week series’! And I said that would be awesome. So Len DM’d me a little later and said he’d done some research into what I’ve worked on and created and thought I’d be a great fit for Geek a Week,” says Jessica.

Once Jessica’s card was created, the two hit it off so well that they remained good friends. According to Len, “Jessica and I have been friends for a few years now and she’s one of my favorite people. That sounds so cliché, but it’s absolutely true. We just hit it off immediately and seemed to be on the same wavelength creatively.”

Image: Len Peralta

How did they come up with the idea for UComics!? The answer is babies. Len and his wife have a new baby and he’d been toying with the idea of some kind of comic for newborns. Jessica had had similar thoughts after playing with her new little niece. She eventually approached Len who’s response was “YES! Let’s do this!”

The first thing they had to do was figure out exactly what they would create. “We originally wanted to do a mini comic book for each person,” says Len, “But we had to rethink that immediately. The idea of doing a single page comic appealed to me because it forced us to be brief and realistically allowed us to create a product that people could actually afford.”

Customers start by filling out a questionnaire and submitting it along with any photos they’d like to include. If you have an idea, let them know, but you can also just set them loose and see what they create. They’ve had customers who are extremely specific about what they want and others who have little or no idea.

“In both instances, it’s incredibly fun. Even though the customers will probably never compare comics, I really want to make each one totally unique. So Len and I have had a chance to explore adventure stories, sci-fi, vampires, a western. All over the place,” says Jessica.

Once Jessica has the story, it’s Len’s turn. He says, “I really let Jessica’s narrative set the tone for the page. These are extremely quick hits and I need to make sure that the art works immediately to match Jessica’s idea. I can tell instantly what flavor Jessica is going for, so I do my best to live up to the idea she has in her head.”

So far, it seems to be working pretty well according to Jessica: “Working with Len has been great. It’s such a challenge to tell a whole story in one page, and almost every time I send him scripts and I’m like ‘It’s probably too complicated. I dunno. I can re-write it.’ But every time he makes it work in such a great way. I’m just loving every part of this process.”

You can order your very own custom UComics! online for yourself, your favorite geek or even your pet. Prices start at $175 for a black and white digital-only version with full-color and autographed versions available.

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