Inspecto: Alchemist Steampunk Detective Wizard

It's tough being a genius. You never know when inspiration strikes, which is why I carry a huge notebook with me at all times and wear that ridiculous trench coat in which I keep it no matter the weather, circumstance, or social setting.

Inspecto: Alchemist Steampunk Detective Wizard
Inspecto: Alchemist Steampunk Detective Wizard
Inspecto: Alchemist Steampunk Detective Wizard

No artist in the world has purely 100% good ideas (not even Douglas Adams, who apparently has written some old scripts for Dr. Who that would make even the hack Stephen King chortle derisively), which makes that notebook doubly important. You have to be able to look down and pick out the good story ideas from the bad, and you never know when an idea you thought might be terrible will seem like a good idea later on (fun fact: my sort-of famous short story The Devil Still Has My Lawnmower was one of those that I initally discarded as 'too damn stupid to write a story about, stupid').

And that's why I wear the coat. Men don't carry purses, so I have to rely on those deep pockets to keep my all-important notebook, keys, ebook reader, sunglasses, space suit, towel, etc in.

Even though it makes me look like a dorktastic nerdazoid from the planet Dweeb.

And it's that coat that partially contributed to the latest story I've been working on obsessively when I should have been writing more enjoyable, easily-submittable short fiction and writing posts on my website.

I was walking home from my favorite bookstore in Arizona, Bookman's, when I spied a little girl leaning from the back window of a minivan. Like most little girls hanging out in minivans, she was bored out of her skull, waiting for her mother or other parent figure to return from... wherever they had been. When she spied me off in the distance in my ridiculous getup (one of my friends calls it a "poet look" but I dont' believe her),  she called out, "look at the guy in the hat! He's an INSPECTOR!"

I actually don't know exactly what it was she said. But at the time I thought she had called me Inspecto, which in her warped little-girl mind, must have had something to do with Inspector Gadget.

Except it wasn't Inspector Gadget that got me thinking. I instantly had an image if Inspecto in my head. I didn't know who he was or what he did yet, but I knew two things: He dresses like a stage magician, and he's got an insane mustache.

And before I knew it, I was world-building again. Days later, I knew all about Inspecto. He was the world's only scientist in a land full of magicians. He's probably gay, but it doesn't matter because, like Tesla, he's saving himself for science. He invented the steam engine and it blew up and killed a bunch of people, but it wasn't his fault. And he's been rotting in prison for twenty years until a teenager accidentally summons him when her homework goes wrong.

And now that he's out, he's loving every second of it. He's dived right back into science and is absolutely mad about it-- and now he's even got an apprentice in the form of the girl who summoned him, Christa. He's a Mad Scientist in a world where both madness and science are not tolerated whatsoever.

And now, months later, I've got more than just an idea. There's a complete outline, drawings, and even some scripts written out. Because I want to make a comic out of it. A comic book, or a webcomic. And right now, that's sort of out of the question.

There are limitations, and believe me, I'm completely aware of them. I know that, while I do have a regular audience (once again, cheers for that), it's not that large. And that's fine; everyone's got to start somewhere, and my own career is barely past the "guy with a website who updates it from time to time" phase. It's going to be a while until I pull enough readers (if I do do that, that is), that I can launch Inspecto to more than just absolute silence.

The second limitation is technology. If I do the art for this myself-- and I want to, I just think I need to get a little better at it-- then I'll need more than what I've got, which is an HP mini netbook and a $30 wireless mouse. I've got physical art supplies as well, and they're rapidly dwindling. I used to have a tablet ages ago, and the few times I was able to use it... well, I liked it. Now, my little computer is incapable of even running Photoshop at all. I just know that if I'm able to eschew physical mediums entirely and move to 100% digital like my buddy Kent did, then I can produce a pretty great comic. That limitation will be repaired over time, once I get a decent income.

But for now, I'm just going to bare all-- I'm going to tell you all about Inspecto. Or at least, enough about it to entice you. And all I ask is that, if you like it, you'd maybe let me know. And possibly spread the word. Yes, you! There are comments right below this post, and posting them is super easy. There's also a handy-dandy "contact" button somewhere up above that sends me an email.

Maybe some day down the line I'll launch a Kickstarter to fund it, but not if my audience is small enough to fit in an elementary school classroom. I need to know if Inspecto is wanted at least half as much as I want to do it (which is quite a lot!)

So here goes. At the bottom I'm going to post a few images that you can scroll through. They were made with a mouse and paint dot net... sorry but that's the best I can do. Take it or leave it! I can change that title if you hate it... I'm flexible like that.

And thank you.



Christa Grubwood dreams of a world unlike her own: A place where the gods keep a respectable distance from their mortal subjects; where magic is used conservatively and responsibly; and where men and women of formidable intelligence are free to study the world and its habits without being clandestinely murdered in the streets. 

Unfortunately, Christa does not live in that world. She's failing her alchemy class and can’t afford the main component required for today’s hectic world of magic, Potion, which is both miraculously powerful and ruinously expensive. There is hope for her yet, though. An extra credit homework spell goes wrong, and she accidentally summons a mysterious, half-mad, eyeless man. With a little prodding she learns that her new companion is Inspecto, a man feared for his mysterious “Dark Science,” who has been rotting in jail for twenty years for a crime he insists he had only partially committed. 

But Christa is not frightened in the slightest. She wants to know more about Inspecto's world. She wants to know about the gadgets he builds and how they work without magic, and the infamous steam-engine explosion that landed him in prison. Had it really been an accident? Was it sabotage? And what are these “physics” and “chemistry” things he keeps going on about? 

Now, Christa has the chance of a lifetime: Either she can continue her day-to-day existence of dull witchcraft and eye of newt, or she can join Inspecto in his mission to clear his name- and on the way learn about a wonderful, fantastic thing called Science!


INSPECTO is an online comic… or at least I hope it will be some day. It's 16 chapters long, each chapter containing 1-3 issues. Each issue is 20 pages. While it is an online comic, print is certainly a possibility, though not right away. You can bet that there will be shirts, prints and other goodies, depending on the success of the project. INSPECTO is a big and intricate story that needs telling.


It’s a sort of  inverse to ours. Magic is the common, frequently-practiced (and downright dull) routine, whereas science is the mysterious, fantastical, and practically unknown talent. Imagine that it's like the Dark Ages, except instead of Christians burning witches, it's witches burning scientists.

There's a world government too, called the "Ordered World." They really dorule the entire world, and as far as anyone can tell they've always been around. They have complete control over the magical wonder-juice called Potion, which allows magical spells to go off instantly and cleanly, instead of waiting the usual several hours or so it takes for the gods to answer your prayers. Before Potion, it could take up to an entire day for a spell to go off, and now, since there's no waiting, people went from casting one or two spells a day to ten, twenty, a hundred a day.

The Ordered World spearheaded the extermination of the world's scientists and discouraged any citizens from ever taking up science again. Curiosity, inquisitiveness, or anything more than the most basic amount of attention paid to the way things are are treated as social disorders. Counselors are employed (and heavily paid) to "cure" people of scientific thinking.

And that's where Christa comes in. She can't help that she is full of questions, and frequently has run-ins with her teachers at school for using non-magical methods to complete her work. Why use alchemy to strengthen materials when you can combine it with other materials to get the same result? She has no idea that what she's trying is called Chemistry, since such a word has been abolished from collective memory for centuries.

She has one last chance to prove to her teachers that she can do magic before she's forced to get treatment for her curious mind and rampant questioning. She has to summon a familiar-- after all, everyone else in school has already got one.

But instead of summoning the black cat she was asking for, down comes an emaciated, drooling, blind lunatic with an enormous beard and completely unintelligible language. After calming him down with a bit of water and an unending stream of her trademark questions, he comes clean: "My name is Inspecto, and I am HERE for SCIENCE!"

His story is bizarre at best and unbelievable at worst. He was an expert alchemist turned scientist the same way Christa was: unquenchable curiosity and a burning desire for how things work. He invented the world's first Steam Engine (which he calls the Air Dispersal Motion Mechanism), and, while demonstrating its abilities in a crowded town square, it detonated and killed twenty people, injuring dozens of others. For his mad science, he was thrown in prison and sentenced to suffer in hell (Oh yeah, the world government actually has the ability to do that), but they were unable to get his name, which is required for the ritual.

That's because before he went out to demonstrate the Steam Engine, he did a complicated bit of magic that changed his name. But this was a true name change, which caused his old one to be erased from every document and every memory, including his own. It was a precaution that saved his life.

So for the last twenty years he's been whipped, beaten, and tortured in prison, all for a crime that he only partially committed. He knows it wasn't his fault that the Steam Engine exploded, because he saw someone sabotage it seconds before it did: A fat man in high heels and an eye patch. Inspecto won't rest until he's found the man who ruined his life and brought him to justice.

But Christa has some bad news. A fat man in high heels and an eye patch, you say? His name is Filonious Slong, and he happens to be the newest leader of the Ordered World!


Okay, that's that. Now I'm going to get back to writing short stories and getting to work at my new job like I'm SUPPOSED to be doing. If you want to see some drawings, click on that "Full Story" thing below.

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