Rather than shut down production, though, he decided to launch a spinoff comic--a story set in the world of Sparkshooter, and featuring the art of Ben Olson. Solo Acoustic launched three weeks ago, with a new page loading today at the link above.
Brownfield joined ComicBook.com to discuss the project.
ComicBook.com: What made you decide to break off and tell new stories in the Sparkshooter Universe, rather than starting from scratch?
Troy Brownfield: The simple answer is that Sparkshooter, unless something radically changes, is for Sarah to draw. She's been attached to this for a long time, way before we started it. And unless she's completely unable to continue, it's going to wait for her. Sarah's done nothing but work as hard as possible on the series, and her tendoitis is a really damn unfortunate side effect of a strong work ethic. It's not something that she did; it's something that happened to her. And I'm going to do what I can to make it so that Sarah can work on it like we'd always planned.
That said, I didn't want a lapse in actual content appearing on the site. We knew that Sarah could get up to speed to finish Chapter 2 in a couple of months, but might need more time after that with a regimen to get where she can do everything. SO, I decided that the best thing to do would be to preserve the main story for her, but put together a related feature that could please regular readers and maybe draw in other eyes too. This way, we get to have two great artists, two kinds of approaches, and one thing always running (hopefully).
ComicBook.com: Where'd you dig up Ben Olson? I love his stuff, but hadn't heard of him before I saw your page.
Brownfield: Ben is literally my Comic Shop Guy. He's got a formal education in art from the Herron School of Art & Design in Indianapolis (IUPUI), with a BFA in Furniture Design. He also studied Art History. The first time I saw his art was associated with some of his painting and mural work. When Sarah first started having some issues, leading to an earlier Sparkshooter break, Ben actually offered to fill in if needed. He gave me some samples and I thought, holy shit, he draws comics too! As I previously stated, I didn't want anyone to step into regular Sparkshooter except as a last resort, but I kept Ben in mind. When I thought of "Solo Acoustic", he was the logical choice.
ComicBook.com: What about his style appeals to you? There's a real humanity to his faces, in spite of having a really simple style.
Brownfield: The thing that's cool about Ben's style is that it's cartoony without that being a bad word. He can do different things, but this look for this strip is perfect. It's the right tone for something that is more comedic in an immediate sense than Sparkshooter is. I consider Sparkshooter a comedy, but it has drama and romance in it. SA is pretty much straight laughs.
ComicBook.com: How would you go about printing this, if you ever wanted to? It seems like in order to get "value" out of a single-image post, you've been cramming a lot of words onto each panel.
Brownfield: Flip book! At this point, it would make a great back-up feature to a collected Sparkshooter, wouldn't it? But I'm not sure. My original conception was single panels alternated with three-panel strips, but then it struck me to just do it as single panels. I'm not shooting so much for cramming words in as I am trying to isolate a moment that the dialogue can surround. That third installment, with Will's face on the bar while Jack offers some terrible encouragement, the visual is a moment, so to speak, a sort of snapshot. And that's the way a local music scene works, in a way; as a series of moments and isolated incidents that people remember. For Will, a lot of it is more mundane and troubling because he's sort of struggling, but it's something that I wanted to try.
ComicBook.com: You've described this as a "midseason replacement." Will you continue it when Sarah's able to work on SParkshooter again or will it go the way of The Finder when Bones came back?
Brownfield: The plan right now is that Solo Acoustic will run until Sarah is able to finish Chapter 2, which only has about 9 pages left. SA will take a break, Sparkshooter part 2 will step in and finish. Then we'll return to SA and run until Chapter 3 comes back. There's not a definite date right now, but Ben is in for the duration. I would love to see SA build it's own little following. And there's absolutely nothing to say that it couldn't run concurrently with Sparkshooter down the road somewhere
ComicBook.com: And a light one: What's your favorite spinoff of all time? After M*A*S*H*? The Jeffersons?
Brownfield: I love that you acknowledged The Jeffersons; a lot of people forget that it's a spin-off. I wonder how much of NCIS's vast audience knows that it's a spin-off of J.A.G.? But my favorite is most definitely Angel. It started with a cool operating premise (your favorite vampire with a soul becomes neo-noir detective in the city of dreams), but grew to include a stellar supporting cast and ended with an absolutely triumphant series finale. An added bonus for me was how, after some separation when Buffy moved to UPN with season 6, the two shows began to tighten continuity during Buffy's 7th and Angel's 4th season. The cross-appearances by Faith, Angel taking the amulet to Buffy, etc. It was really reminiscent of comics storytelling. Of course, this had been done in the past with Dallas/Knots Landing, until Dallas destroyed the KL continuity with the Bobby/shower/dream season. Which, I guess, is A LOT like comics, too.