UNMC staffer takes graphic novel to O Comic Con

Joshua Howell spends his days working with the staff of the UNMC Department of Emergency Medicine as an administrative assistant.

But he’s also a published author, and his latest project, a science-fiction graphic novel called “The Fierce Are Fading,” will be showcased this weekend at the O Comic Con in Omaha, one of a series of events for Howell that will culminate in a booth at New York’s Comic Con in October.

The novel, which Howell wrote and which was illustrated by Italian artist Ilaria Apostoli, was published by Howell using funds he raised from a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $8,000.

The project wasn’t simple. Howell’s original publisher folded, and the initial illustrator for the project was replaced.

“It’s been a hard year, but it’s great to see this come out,” Howell said.

The book follows the troubled and tired FBI Agent, Riley Harper, as she stumbles upon a dark secret while tracking a serial killer in Seattle. When she loses her partner, Agent Harper embarks on a mission to uncover the mystery of a secret organization known only to a few as The M.O.R.S. Initiative.

“It’s based on a novel that I’ve been writing over the last few years,” he said. “I’ve always been a big comic book fan, and someone convinced me to try to convert it into a comic.”

The book, released under Howell’s Nebraska-based imprint, Fierce Literature, has received good reviews upfront. It features a self-contained story, “but it has other opportunities that I’d like to explore down the road,” Howell said.

“It’s something I’ve been really excited about. For Ilaria, as well — she’s young, she’s never published a comic before, so I got really lucky to find her.”

In addition to the Omaha and New York comic conventions, Howell will bring the book to the Kansas City Comic Con and the Midwest Comic Con in Des Moines.

“Fierce Literature beat out literally hundreds of applications for a small press booth at New York Comic Con,” Howell said. He’ll have two other books on sale at that event, the novel version of “The Fierce are Fading” and a revised edition of a novel he wrote 10 years ago, “Guarding Heaven’s Gates.”

“New York was kind of the white whale for me,” Howell said of the world’s second largest comic convention. “We kept reaching out to the guy in charge of making the final decisions. Ultimately, he told me he picked this book because of the original content — he wanted more original projects.”


  1. Joan Ewalt says:

    Congratulations and best wishes for continued success. Keep swimming, as Dory says. Joan E.

  2. Sue Anson says:

    What a wonderful opportunity for you! Way to go!

  3. Sharon Secora says:

    Wow, Josh, very exciting. Congratulations!

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