A DISTANT SOILOriginal medium: Comic books
Published by: WaRP Graphics
First Appeared: 1983
Creator: Colleen Doran
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The genesis of A Distant Soil goes back to the mid-1970s, when 12-year-old cartoonist Colleen Doran wrote and drew the story for her own amusement. A professional illustrator by the time she was out of her teens, Doran saw her story in print by 1983. It became the comics
work she's best known for, even after all these years. She claims credit for that having made her the first female sole creator of a published graphic novel.
Doran's first comics publisher was WaRP Graphics, which Wendy and Richard Pini had created a few years earlier, as a vehicle for publishing their own Elfquest. A Distant Soil was the first outside job they tackled. They sought the same working relationship the Pinis had, with Richard acting as editor and writer of the final script, and Doran co-plotting the stories and supplying artwork.
But apparently, that's not the way Doran understood the deal. His alterations of her work were unacceptable to her. The matter of copyright ownership was also at issue. Between December, 1983 (the cover date of the first issue) and March, 1986, nine issues were published but the contract wasn't renewed. There was considerable harsh feeling associated with the split.
Those nine issues had been created with an unusual pencilled art style, in which the finished work appeared un-inked. Most of them featured Panda Kahn, by Monica Sharp and Dave Garcia, in the back pages. This material has never been collected into a graphic novel edition, or in fact, reprinted in any way, despite the fact that the story, which which concerned the heiress to a religious dynasty and touched on political themes as well as many relating to a maturing young girl, struck a responsive chord with many readers.
Instead, Doran reworked the story, both script and art, from scratch, in a more conventional style. The result was published by Starblaze Graphics (Thieves' World, Mage) as a graphic novel. The regular comic book resumed in 1991, this time self-published, under the imprint of Doran's own Aria Press.
Image has also published several volumes of graphic novel collections of the story. Doran, who has been working in the meantime on comics properties as mainstream as Captain America and Wonder Woman and as individual-driven as The Sandman and Shade the Changing Man, hopes to complete it before long.