In 2009, Josh Elder approached me to be a part of something big. Something HUGE. Something that would change my life forever.

Reading with Pictures, his non-profit organization that was using comics in an educational setting, and teaching educators how to teach with comics. He know that comics could play a huge role in education – heck, it’s getting kids reading! – and wanted to prove that they could also contain an educational story with an adventure tale. Something educational in nature, but something that people actually wanted to read.

RWP logo

Reading with Pictures volume 1 became our proof of concept. And when Josh got me involved, he also invited me to pitch a story for the project. And this is where my life changed forever.

Growing up, I was not the popular kid. I didn’t relate to stories of outgoing people. I was an introverted kid with an over-active imagination who loved comics – which, at the time, were not popular or mainstream at all. Most people didn’t know who the X-Men were when I was growing up. Sure they had a Saturday morning cartoon show – but there was no live action movie, or video games, or much else to permeate them into the main stream.

Suffice it to say, I got made fun of a lot growing up. And I couldn’t understand why. I felt like I had a target on my head that only everyone else could see. It was quite difficult, especially in middle school.

I wanted to create a character who was just like everyone else – except for obvious physical differences. However, he never let this hold him back. He had confidence, enthusiasm, and these qualities would take him and his friends / fellow students on adventures.

As a kid, I liked aliens, dinosaurs, sci-fi, and comedy – so I wanted to take all of these things and put them into a single story for the first volume of RWP.

And like that, Albert the Alien was born.

The final design for Albert

I had the idea for the character, and Josh hooked me up with an up-and-coming artist (but established colorist) named Gabriel Bautista. Gabe designed the character of Albert, his friend Gerty (originally named Alicia), and the school bully Wally.

Working with Gabe was incredible, and he put together several different looks for the character. But ultimately we settled on the design you see before you. Our numerous conversations over e-mail helped to establish Albert’s gadgets and abilities.

He has a jetpack in his suit, a universal communicator / translator (which helps him with his English), a holographic projector in his chest, and even robotic arms (which were really more a product of freeing his hands during the final chase scene in the RWP story).

I pitched a story that had all of my favorite things growing up: While learning about dinosaurs in class one day, Albert the Alien whisks his class back in time to learn about them first hand. However, the teacher gets kidnapped by a pterodactyl. Albert has to use his superior alien intelligence and gadgets to rescue the teacher and get the class back to their correct time before it’s too late.

Albert’s enthusiasm would be his greatest strength and his weakness at the same time. And this would often become the theme throughout the later Albert adventures, which we’ll get into in later posts.

Albert the Alien – in CGI!

Gabe and I enjoyed Albert so much, we couldn’t let this be his only adventure – and our only collaboration together. Gabe would use the characters in various designs on his website, as well as show his friends who would create cool things like the CGI model you see above.

It took almost two years, but Gabe and I would put our heads together and come up with another Albert adventure. And it would premiere in 2012….