I was never a fan
of webcomics before, and had not even heard of them when this
story begins. My only ambition in life at that point was to become
Daniel VanderWerff, primary school teacher. This is the story
of how that first intention led to a comic about some little Aussie
kids and a cemetery next door to their school...
the year of 2000 I was working through the final year of
my Bachelor of Education course and began my internship
at a primary school a few towns to the west. I was also
completing my Bachelor of Humanities and Social Sciences
but it was my BE that was always going to be the beginnings
of my working career. During this intern year I found myself
teaching as a specialist music teacher for most of the time
and worked closely to help produce the school's annual production.
It was a good success and the kids had fun, but I thought
the story of most primary school musicals were usually pretty
ordinary and simple. It was just after this production was
finished that some of the older students stumbled upon a
small, single scene Harry Potter play that somebody had
written for their own school on the internet. They thought
it would be a great idea if the school could make their
own, and I was told I could give it a go.
rather naive at times, I thought they were serious and by
the end of the year had half of the story scripted out and
several songs written.
With my degree
complete though, I found myself teaching for a year at another
school in a nearby town and that musical was filed away
again, most likely never to see the light of day. By the
end of 2001 I was again looking for another school to teach
in, as there was no longer room for me where I was. While
this was a set back career-wise, hindsight proved it to
be the best thing that could have happened. In 2002 I began
at another local primary school and was reunited with the
teacher with whom I had worked on the last musical. Harry
Potter and the Sorcerer's Son was completed by the middle
of that year and performed that Spring, selling out the
local Little Theatre five times in a row. The ghosts in
that play were considered a success, and I was given two
years to write a second. I had already begun toying with
a story about kids in a school, and it was suggested that
including ghosts again would be a good idea.
the Musical was quickly beginning to take shape.
2003 I was writing the first few scenes of what would soon
be named School Spirit, a script focusing on an eleven year
old boy named Casper who meets a young ghost by the name
of Wendy. An early plot point was Casper's interest in a
twelve year old girl which was to be the main thread of
the story. The first song, 'Eleven', was a melancholy love
song for just this situation.
About this time
a friend of mine from several towns to the east this time
sent me a message over the internet. It was along the lines
of 'I want to make a
and because you can draw, you're going to draw it for me'.
I sent him a reply back along the lines of 'I'm a teacher,
where am I going to get the time to draw a comic?' Perhaps
I was just in a perceptive mood at the time, or perhaps
it was because I was working on the musical script when
the message came through, but within half an hour I had
sketched a strip about Casper and sent it to him and School
Spirit: the Webcomic had begun.
From that evening,
across sixty kilometres of internet line, myself and Daniel
Quinney set about slowly developing a webcomic based on
the characters of a yet to be completed primary school musical.
I can't even remember which of us came up with the name
School Spirit in the confusion of all of the conversations
we had over a period of about a month, but before long we
had taught ourselves enough to put our own little webpage
on the net. The two of us worked on stories for the characters
and developed the individual strips and both worked to bring
the site up to a decent standard. It was October 2003 and
School Spirit was on the internet.
On 12th June
2004 the comic moved to its current location, and it's official
online history is reckoned from that date onwards. The previous
strips appeared each day until early July, and for two months
updated twice weekly on Sundays and Thursdays. The update
schedule was increased from the beginning of September to
three times a week on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and
has not missed an update yet in it's official history.
By the end of
2004 my co-creator, Daniel Quinney, decided to leave the
project to pursue other interests. He played a critical
role in the creation and early influence on this comic,
as I would never had found myself doing this had it not
been for his original message telling me I was about to
start a comic. The comic logo, strip templates and design,
as well as the various portraits of us both are of his creation
and devising. I may be the only one riding this tractor
now, but he deserves most of the credit for the very existance
of this comic. Now we just continue to pester each other
over the internet when we aren't eating each other's food
while crashing at each other's houses.
As for School
Spirit: The Musical, it was completed in early September
2004, just weeks before opening night in late October.
It performed five shows over three days and was a successful
event. Personally it was just fantastic to see live action
versions of the characters I've now been drawing for some
time walking about on stage. The kids brought the characters
to life in a way I never thought I'd see them.
I doubt that
there are any comics out there, even in the great vastness
of the internet, that can boast both a live performance
of their characters and general story, as well as a completely
original musical soundtrack to completement its world.
I'm proud to think that School Spirit has achieved something
like this in such a short time, and am indebted to many
different people for the various contributions they have
made to the world of these characters. More information
on the musical can be found here.
That is the
history so far of School Spirit, both the webcomic and
it's original form as a primary school musical. At this
stage the musical is sketched in to be performed once
again in 2008, after we bring back Harry Potter and the
Sorcerer's Son in 2006. By the time that second season
of School Spirit: the Musical rolls around hopefully School
Spirit: the Webcomic will still be running as well. It's
still only a hobby, and at times a good teaching tool
in the classroom, but I don't feel the urge to let it
run dry any time soon.
in the future in regards to Casper, Cody, Wendy and the
rest of the School Spirit characters, I'd just like to
think that other people will wander by from time to time
and lose themselves every now and then in their little
may not be the way the world really was, or the way it
really is, but maybe it's the way it really should be.
anything more you think could be answered in regards to School
Spirit, then feel free to use the forum or contact buttons at
the top of most pages. Thank you for taking an interest in the
School Spirit is hosted on Comic Genesis,
a free webhosting and site automation service for webcomics.