Thus, Byron the Tauren Rogue was born.
Now, the legend of the tauren rogue is just one of many jokes within the WoW universe, like the cow level, or skilled ret paladins. Even though I was told that this idea was "done to death," I really wanted to try out the lovable oaf sort of character. What I didn't expect is what it would turn into.
The general synopsis of Byron is as such:
Byron is a young, male tauren who dreams of becoming the first rogue of his kind. His friends -- skilled rogues themselves -- dare Byron to sneak into Stormwind and steal the Shield of Fordragon. If he can acquire it and safely escape the city, then he has more than proven himself.
Funny thing -- the story itself started off as a light-hearted, humorous story. Due to my mediocre writing skills, the mood sadly fizzled as I wrestled with where I wanted to take both the story and characters. Luckily, my guild leader and expert author came to the rescue and was willing to spend his evenings with me in Vent as we reviewed the story. Over the weeks, the comic slowly transformed into what he (rightfully) labeled as a "loss of innocence" story.
If you think about it, it's true -- Byron went from the happy-go-lucky young man, ready to prove himself, into a quietly darker world in which he had to make the ultimate choice: to kill or not to kill. Personally, I'm quite happy with how it turned out, even though I will be the first to admit that this project certainly had its rough patches. Even character-wise, Evi, who was supposed to be Byron's adversary, seemingly showed up with a blinding hatred for our hero. The tiny gnome was fueled by pride and rage but acted more like either a rabid animal or a villain with much more history than I had shown. I was content with how his friends turned out, though -- Gruuka, the strong beauty whom the hero shyly admires; Guzuru, the male troll who ended up being the mother hen; and Derrick, the silent Forsaken with a passion for the written word.
At the end of it all, though, the entire experience has matured Byron. He literally grew up before the audiences' eyes over the last 10 months. If character growth was the only thing I had asked for, then I personally believed that I got to see some. I also managed to steer him away from the previously mentioned stereotype and actually made him good at what he did -- well, as skilled as a 600-pound tauren can be at stealthing. On that note, I had internally planned to make more use of his engineering skills, but that sadly fell flat.
I received the tremendous honor of flexing my creative muscles in front of one of the most supportive and damning audiences out there, and I couldn't be happier for it. Considering that this comic published for nearly a year, I can compare what kind of person I was, both as a storyteller and an artist, to what I am now. I was immature, quick to anger and overly sensitive. Byron, Gruuka, Evi and everyone else has helped me to (hopefully!) become a better artist and author. I am to this day still very touched and grateful to all who stuck with this comic to the end, through the poor writing, the transition from color to gray scale, and even when I had surgery on my drawing wrist and created Byron's childhood diary.
So again, I say thank you, and slink back to my Cintiq to get ready for the next story that premieres next Tuesday right here on WoW.com. Will we see Byron again? Who knows? Perhaps, one day, in another time, or another comic, our favorite bovine will once again emerge from the shadows to incite order where there was none.
The post-Cataclysm story "Safe Passage" will start in Byron's old time slot, next Tuesday. It's a neutral-faction story about...well, I'll let you guys judge for yourself.