Before I got into comics, which happened in my old age, I wrote a novel, entitled Built on the Ruins, the story of Jason Gorham, a political activist who gets discouraged and gives up politics, then flounders as he tries to find something meaningful to do with his life. Though there is some political content, it's not really a political story--I've only used political ideas to get inside the characters' heads. It's built on short chapters that describe moments in Jason's life and that fit together something like a mosaic. Two digressive chapters follow minor characters in Jason's story and present a broader picture of the social milieu, as it were, in which the story is set.

Most of the novel takes place in the fictional city of St. Croix, Wisconsin. In developing the geography and atmosphere of the city, I mixed up elements from Milwaukee and Madison, (hence the photos decorating this page), with a little bit of Appleton thrown in. I've always been interested in urban geography, and the St. Croix neighborhoods and locations play an important role in the story.

Note about the time: I was about 3/4 of the way through the first draft when the twin towers came down. After the shock of that event wore off, I realized I had to make a choice--I could try to update the novel to reflect the new political realities of the 21st century, or I could explicitly set it before 2001. I chose to do the latter, mainly because it seemed inconceivable to me that someone committed to a political position, be it liberal or conservative, would have abandoned politics during the Bush presidency. The kind of political disengagement felt by Jason was more endemic to the end of the Clinton years. Another, more tangential reason is that there were a number of technological references that had already gone out of date by the time I finished the first draft. So, while fixing an exact time for the novel's action isn't terribly important, it really makes sense to think of it as taking place in the late 1990s.

Built on the Ruins is available through my store at