Tyler Page (Nothing Better, Chicagoland Detective Agency) got his start in comics by self-publishing the first volume of Stylish Vittles, an autobiographical love story set on a college campus. That was 10 years ago and, as you’d expect, Page has grown a lot as an artist during that time. As I posted in February, I love Page’s attitude about his early work: He’s not embarrassed by it, but a decade of distance has also brought him some perspective that he’s willing to share with readers.
Page announced this week that the Stylish Vittles 10th Anniversary Collection is now available as an ebook. Better — as a free ebook.
There are three variations to download, depending on your preference. The 10th Anniversary Collected Edition includes all three volumes of the series, plus a later addition called Stylish Vittles 4 – Behind the Page: The Saga of Rob Harvard. There’s also a Director’s Cut in which Page trimmed his original version “to present a shorter, simpler narrative.” And if you want it all, there’s the Deluxe Collection that includes both other versions, plus two appendices. Page writes, “Appendix One is almost one thousand pages of process material — outlines, scripts, sketches, layouts, etc. Appendix Two contains all of the material I did which led up to the creation of the Stylish Vittles books.” All of it is free.
He’s also been celebrating on his Tumblr by pointing out parts of the book that he still finds fascinating,” whether it’s the best, the WORST, or just plain ridiculous, silly, or stupid.” He’s shared a couple of moments already, and it’s a very cool, and extremely rare, look inside an artist’s head as he revisits old work and talks about his growth.
With the 10th anniversary of the college romance/drama Stylish Vittles, Volume 1: I Met A Girl approaching, Tyler Page (Nothing Better, Chicagoland Detective Agency) is thinking about ways to celebrate his debut work while also acknowledging his growth as a cartoonist. In a recent blog post, Page shared some potential cover designs (there are more at the link), but talked about handling what he calls “the deep flaws of the work.” He’s currently working on an ebook collecting the original versions of all three Stylish Vittles volumes, but is considering a Director’s Cut to trim out what he considers to be problem areas.
I can’t help but think about George Lucas as I read that, but Page’s approach is different in a couple of important ways. First, he’s approaching the anniversary spruce-up from a position of humility; looking back at an early work with the eyes of a more mature artist is different from saying that the new version is “what I always intended the old one to be.” More importantly though, Page is keeping the original available for long-time fans (like me) and side-by-side comparison. I need to remind myself that the Director’s Cut is just something Page is thinking about and not a done deal, but I hope he goes through with it. Offering both versions sounds like a perfect way to both celebrate and offer a critical retrospective of an early work.