The Epic Tale of Walter Hale

Today I sent in my application for the Creators for Creators grant. My proposal for the grant is a 64 page book based on Walter Hale. While the minicomics so far have been standalone stories just focused on specific moments in Walter’s life, the longer book would be a more in-depth, continuous narrative. The story that I proposed for the book is below.

Story Proposal

The Epic Tale of Walter Hale is a fish-out-of-water story (not literally: whales are mammals, not fish). Walter Hale is a humpback whale working in a soul crushing office job. He spends his days surrounded by people — stuck in heavy traffic, crammed into crowded elevators, and packed into his tiny cubicle in an overfull office building — yet he is alone. Walter has always felt alienated from his fellow man. He doesn’t fit in this world, and spends his time daydreaming about swimming free in the vast ocean.

One day, as he sits alone in the window at his local coffee shop, Walter sees another whale pass by. He jumps up from his table and rushes out to the street, but the whale is already lost in the bustle of the city.

In the following weeks, Walter continues to see this other whale around town — standing on the street corner as Walter rides by on the bus, driving in the opposite direction in slow moving traffic. Finally one night Walter sees the whale walking near the beach and pursues him. He follows the whale down to the shore. Walter calls out, but the whale continues straight into the ocean. He chases after the whale, but not being a strong swimmer, Walter loses the whale in the waves and the darkness. Choking on seawater and gasping for breath, Walter retreats to the shore. He sits in the sand and sobs.

Walter begins swimming laps at his local gym in order to improve his stroke. Some of his coworkers see him at the gym and invite him to train with them for an upcoming open-water race. As Walter develops friendships with his training partners, he feels a new conflict: Is he learning to be more content with his place in this world or is he giving up on his dream of swimming free?

On the big day Walter dives into the waves as the race begins. Rounding the first buoy, he races to catch the lead swimmer, but as he closes the gap realizes that he has mistaken the mystery whale for a fellow swimmer. The whale leaves the race course and swims out toward the horizon. Walter stops, treading water, unsure, as he looks from the whale receding into the distance to his friends cheering for him from the shore.

The story ends ambiguously with a frame showing the first few swimmers emerging from the water and crossing the finish line. Does Walter return to shore and finish the race, or does he swim away to join the mystery whale?