PAUL GOMEZ [Creators Showcase]
Paul Gomez is a self-described family-man, he is a father of six, and was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. Paul spends his free time writing comics books, and, so far, has had three books published: Cryptic Haze, PTSD, and Booshie Boo Circus Mysteries. Paul grew up reading comic books, and especially loved the now infamous X-Men series. As he grew older, Paul’s love of comics didn’t exactly dwindle, but he found less and less time to read them amidst all his responsibilities.
Paul says that he had never seriously considered a career in writing comics (or writing at all) until early 2020. When the Covid-19 crises reached its height, Paul was laid off from work and his children were sent home from school. The entire family was cooped up inside their home and Paul wanted to give himself and his kids something to do outside of playing video games and sitting on the computer. Paul pitched the idea of writing a book to his kids and they were all excited at the prospect of a creative outlet, especially one that they could collaborate on together. Paul and his family set out to write the book but made little headway before they realized one major obstacle: Paul and his kids have dyslexia. Paul said that it was difficult for him and his kids to edit or even read what they had written, and the idea was scrapped pretty quickly. To avoid disappointment and having just introduced his twin-boys (13 at the time) to comics, they all decided to write their story into a comic book instead of a novel.
The first comic that Paul wrote was Booshie Boo Circus Mysteries, which was written in his living room with the help of his kids. He said that his children, especially the younger ones, had incredibly high expectations for the book and he was nervous to disappoint them with his lack of experience. Originally, the family had wanted a character-centric, fantasy story, like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, but Paul said that “Harry Potter had already been done, I wanted to write something unique.”
Paul and his family had been watching the 2019 Netflix series, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” over the quarantine and he said that family movie nights often included episodes from that series. The family’s favorite movie at the time was the 2017 Disney film, “The Greatest Showman”. Paul said that these two films were the main sources of inspiration for the family when writing the book.
“I had never seen a circus mystery comic before, so that’s what I wanted to write.” -Paul Gomez
The concept that Paul and his family finally decided on for the book was “Scooby-Doo” in a traveling circus, and this concept summarizes the atmosphere of the book quite well. Booshie Boo Circus Mysteries, in many ways, does read like a classic episode of “Scooby-Doo”, but Paul and his kids took the formulaic structure of the 1969 series and turned it into something quite unique. I asked Paul where the inspiration for the name of the circus came from, and he said it was from his youngest son (4 at the time). He said that the boy would walk around the house and slam into his parents and older siblings yelling, “Booshie Boo BOOM!” Paul and his kids took this phrase and combined it with their inspiration, Scooby-Doo, and Booshie Boo Circus Mysteries was born.
The book follows three main characters, Zahara, Lance, and Luke, all of whom work in the Booshie Boo Traveling Circus. The book opens with Zahara, a tiger trainer, walking towards the fairgrounds where her fellow circus workers are setting up tents for the show later that night. Zahara rushes into the fairgrounds to find her two tiger twins, Jacob and Esau, having missed them while she spent a few days in a nearby city buying supplies. Paul says that the tiger twins are based on his two twin boys, he says, “One twin is hot-headed and stubborn, the other one just likes to go with the flow and that always adds to the adventures in our house so why not add it to the adventures in our book?”
Paul says that he based a lot of the characters in Booshie Boo Circus Mysteries on his children, friends, and family members. Writing the book was a bonding experience for Paul and his family, and he says that it brought them all closer together. “The highlight of my life was when the ashcan can came in…[it] came before any of the books and my boys were so excited…they asked if they could take it to school to show their friends.” Paul also told me that the six book cover options were each inspired by one of his kids.
I asked Paul if his children were still fans of the book all these years later, he said that his twins cosplay as characters from the book for every Comic-Con that they attend.
As of the release of this article, Paul has posted a Kickstarter for the second issue of Booshie Boo Circus Mysteries that has been running for about three weeks, the Kickstarter is all-or-nothing with a goal of $1,000 pledged by August 29th, 2022. If the Kickstarter reaches its goal, Paul says the book should be ready to be shipped out by late October or early November of 2022. The second book will be set in Oklahoma, like the first, and will solve the mystery that was set up in issue 1. Paul said that there are character and story arcs that will link across the entire series, but he wants to stick with the original Scooby-Doo idea where characters solve multiple mysteries over the course of the series.
He says, “Some stories, like that in issue 1, will have two parts; while other books may have a mystery introduced and solved in a single issue.”
I asked Paul what fans of the first issue should expect from the upcoming book, he said to expect suspense and intrigue, and that the resolution to the mystery won’t be easy for the readers to guess. He said, too, that his children (especially his twins) were still very much involved in the story-writing process and that they approve of where the story is going. He told me that new characters are going to be introduced, these including a sharpshooting Native American character and a hot-headed gorilla. Both new characters make an appearance in the video on Paul’s Kickstarter page, along with a handful of returning characters in new and intriguing scenarios.
The first book that Paul officially published was his stand-alone book PTSD. Paul says that Booshie Boo Circus Mysteries was written long before he wrote PTSD, but multiple snags in the publication process led to PTSD being released to the public first. PTSD did extremely well upon release, selling over 1,000 copies within the first month. Paul credits PTSD’s success to the themes and deeper messages that are featured throughout the story. The 26-page book takes place over one afternoon and follows a war vet, Steven Christensen, who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The comic dives into the psychological symptoms those suffering from PTSD experience, and the reader gets to experience these along with Steven. The formatting and writing style of PTSD is disorienting and unsettling, leading the readers off-balance and confused until the book’s resolution. This is not a critique, as the style and format of the book is quite memorable and well-written; Paul knew how to convey his message to readers, and he executed this message flawlessly. The book jumps across time and space, exploring various, integral moments from Steven’s life. Paul did this, not just to show readers Steven’s experiences, but also to show readers how difficult it is for someone experiencing PTSD to organize or even understand their own mind.
“It’s okay to not be okay.”
The stand-alone comic is a gut-wrenching reminder of the importance of mental health and the devastating affects that refusing treatment can have on someone struggling with mental illness. The final page of the book features a message from Paul, who stresses the importance of mental health and says, “It’s okay to not be okay.” Following this line, Paul lists the number to the National Prevention Line.
The third of Paul’s current publications is Cryptic Haze. This book, like its predecessor PTSD, explores mental health and how detrimental it is to one’s role in society. Protagonist, Scott, is struggling to cope after his wife left him and filed for divorce. Paul describes the book as, “A modern take on The Monkey’s Paw,” and I agree with that description. Like PTSD, the book concludes tragically, and the final page features another message from Paul stressing the importance of mental health. The last page also has the number for the Suicide Hotline and a message from creator Deuce Wyld. Deuce’s message says that he always has someone to talk to if he’s struggling with his mental health, and it reminds the reader that they do too.
I asked Paul what his inspiration was when writing about mental health. He said that it was just something that was always relevant. “I was going through a lot, [I] lost [my] job, every one of my six kids started getting sick, one caught covid and [had a] collapsed lung…one was diagnosed with diabetes…and [my] youngest [was] diagnosed with autism.” On top of all this, Paul was also going through a divorce at the time. “Because of all that, I started writing my second script (after Booshie Boo Circus Mysteries), which was called “Flame”. As I was writing that…me and my editor were talking about soldiers in our family. The next day the story of “PTSD” hit me.”
Paul said that he wanted to talk about mental health because he was struggling with it himself, and he knew that he was not alone in this struggle. He said, “I feel you should draw from what you know. I also feel getting the message out, that if you are hurting, you are not alone. Its ok not to be ok, but don’t stay down. Take a break, get back up.” Paul said that he worried that his kids would not understand the importance of taking care of their mental health, and he worried that other kids and many adults probably didn’t understand this either. He set out to normalize talking about mental health, and this mission is something that he still believes in and pursues with all his writing.
The whole purpose of this endeavor is to have fun, and we are. -Paul Gomez
I asked Paul if he has considered writing as a full-time job, and he said that he would love to. Unfortunately, as a single dad of 6, this is just not possible for him yet. Paul still works a 9-5 in order to make sure that all his people are cared for. He says that 25 of the 28 bookstores in Fort Worth, Texas carry his books and that this, alone, is a dream come true for him. “The whole purpose of this endeavor is to have fun, and we are.” Although his dream is to write comic books every day for a living, he holds himself responsible for caring for his children; and there aren’t many things more commendable than that.
The final question that I asked Paul was about starting the writing process, I was curious as to why he would choose to jump headfirst into such a competitive industry. To this Paul replied, “It’s really about my kids. I love them.”
Paul is still working on writing comics. Currently, he has planned four more issues of Booshie Boo Circus Mysteries, and two more issues of Cryptic Haze. He is also working on a new series called Prelude to Aurora, which is meant to go up on Kickstarter around November or December of 2022. He says that his kids are the biggest fans of his work, and that they push him to be a better writer and a better person.
If you want to support Paul and his work:
Paul Gomez on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/discover/advanced?ref=nav_search&term=Paul%20Gomez
Paul Gomez’s Publication Company:
He can also be found on most social media platforms as Paul Gomez.