Hello from the north where things are heating up, the hockey season has ended, and Canada's birthday is upon us.
Been a very BUSY week, but they all are. Split my time between working on new drafts of the Essex County television episodes, and finishing up drawing a batch of pages from my next graphic novel, as well as inking five new pages of my INFERIOR FIVE story for DC.
I talked to Keith Giffen on one of our monthly story calls. This is how we "write" Inferior Five: I talk to Keith about what he is going to draw this month, give a few suggestions, try to talk him down from killing all the characters, and then wait for the art to come back to discover that Keith has decided to draw about 25% of what we talked about, and gone in totally different direction instead. Then I have to letter it and try to make sense of it all. Sound fun? Well, it actually is. It's a blast, and the unpredictability of the whole process is giving the story a wild and untamed feeling that sometimes makes me nervous, but mostly just excites me.
I've talked about Inferior Five a lot in this newsletter but that's because it is a real passion project for me.In my mind Keith is a legend. I was at my most impressionable age as a comics reader between 1985 and 1991, when I was 9-15-years-old. I was also a DC Comics super nerd then and Keith was my god. His work on Legion, Lobo, Justice League International and many others made a massive impression on me. And Keith's ever-morphing art style has also influenced my own art greatly over the years. So, getting to work with him on this book, and interact with him as a creative partner, is surreal and amazing. Even if he is just a grumpy old bastard and not the least bit legend-y.
Here is the "un-official" synopsis of the book:
Set in the DC Comics continuity of 1988, Inferior Five follows five strange kids stuck in a small town in the wake of DC's "Invasion" event (which was published in 1988 and co-written by Giffen). The kids work together to try and escape this nightmare of this town, which is part "The Prisoner" and part "Twin Peaks", but all set against the backdrop of the book DC was publishing back in the 80's.
Keith is co-plotting and doing the art, and I am scripting it. And I am also writing and drawing 5-page back-up stories in each issue featuring the character "The Peacemaker". These back-ups are connected to the main story and will all come together (I hope!!) in the end. It's 12-issues and it is as crazy as it sounds. So buy it. It is unlike ANYTHING else DC and Marvel are publishing, I promise. It is available for pre-order from your local comic book store now, so ask for it or no one will order it!
Here is my variant cover for Issue #1. Both its raw inks, and the colored version, with colers by Jose Villarrubia...
Before I move on from DC... a few other notes: I have TWO NEW DC BLACK LABEL PROJECTS and they will both be announced July 8! I've been teasing these for a while, and cannot wait to talk about them more! So keep an eye on comics news on July 8.
Oh, and one more. JUSTICE LEAGUE/BLACK HAMMER #1 is out July 10. You know what to do!
Another book I have been working on for a long time is FAMILY TREE with Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur, Ryan Cody and Steve Wands for IMAGE COMICS. Phil and I announced the book a looong time ago...then some life stuff happened and we got delayed. But the book is back on track and we are launching it in November. This week was exciting because we now have a COVER for the first issue! And here it is for the very first time anywhere...Cover art by Phil Hester, inked by Eric Gapstur, colors by Ryan Cody and logo designed by Steve Wands. Pretty cool, eh?
Ascender continues to do well out in the world. Issue #3 came out this past week, and Dustin and I are looking forward to meeting up at San Deigo Comicon in a couple weeks to sign and do panels etc.
There are TWO big new Black Hammer releases this coming week. BLACK HAMMER: AGE OF DOOM #11 is out by myself, Dean Ormston, Dave Steward and Todd Klein. Here are the covers. The variant by Paolo and Joe Rivera is OUTRAGEOUS. I love it. And this is one of Dean's best covers too, in my opinion. Very iconic.
The other big release this week is THE BLACK HAMMER ENCYCLOPEDIA. Our version of those great old character encyclopedias like DC's Who Who or Marvel Universe. It was written by myself and a talented newcomer that I have been helping out named Tate Brombal (you'll be hearing more about Tate, file away that name). The art is by a murderer's row of talent from old Black Hammer pals like Matt Kindt, Emi Lenox and David Rubin to new faces to the Black Hammer world like Tyler Crook, Marie Anger and Brian Hurtt. And it has a cover by my Gideon Falls partner, Andrea Sorrentino.
Also a heads up! There will be some big new Black Hammer announcements on Friday July 18! Want to know where the Black Hammer universe is heading, all will be revealed!
SAN DIEGO COMICON SCHEDULE
As mentioned, I will be attending San Diego Comicon in a couple weeks. Here is my signing an panel schedule:
11:30a.m. – 12:30p.m.: SIGNING – DC/WB Booth 4545
1:00p.m. - 2:00pm. PANEL: Image Comics: Bone-Chilling Insight into the Bestselling Horror Comic Book Series, Room: 23ABC
3-4 pm: SIGNING- Simon and Shuster booth
11:00a.m. - 12:00: PANEL: Dark Horse. The Writer’s Room: From Outlining to the Finished Page, Room: 23ABC
3:00pm - 3:50pm: Signing: Dark Horse Comics Booth #2615
10:00a.m. – 11:00a.m.: DC Black Label PANEL – Rm 6DE
11:00a.m. - 12:00p.m: Panel Dark Horse: Creating Worlds: Building a Comics Universe for the Ages, Room: 23ABC
3:00pm - 3:50pm: SIGNING: Location: Dark Horse Comics Booth #2615
4pm: Signing: Image booth at 4pm Saturday, July 20
10:00a.m. – 11:00a.m.: SIGNING – DC/WB Booth 4545
*I will also be at BALTIMORE COMICON on September.
THOUGHTS ON VERTIGO
And finally, a thought or two on what Vertigo meant to me. Recently DC announced that it would be folding its long-running Vertigo imprint. I said earlier in this newsletter that my most impressionable age as a comics reader was 1985-1991. And that's probably true. I was a kid then, and the stuff I read meant a lot to me. But it was Vertigo that kept me reading comics when I stopped being a kid and became a teenager and adult. Finding books like HELLBLAZER, SANDMAN and DOOM PATROL in 1992-1993 was a gift. Books like those, which became Vertigo, kept me engaged in the medium at a time when my interests could have drifted elsewhere.
And to think that I would end up working with Vertigo one day? Crazy. I pitched Sweet Tooth on a whim and a prayer to Bob Shcreck and Karen Berger at Vertigo in 2008, never expecting that it would get greenlit. But it did. And I ended up writing and drawing that book for four years, my longest running project to date. And that let to all sorts of other things, like me writing comics for DC. Creatively, Sweet Tooth and the freedom Vertigo gave me to be myself, was huge. But personally it was also incredible to become a part of the legacy of Vertigo and to become friends with Karen and so many of the other creators who had books during that period. Jason Aaron (scalped), Scott Snyder (American Vampire), G. Willow Wilson (Air) and Josh Dysart (Unkown Soldier) became like a little family, and I still feel deeply connected to them all and to Vertigo. I also feel incredibly grateful to Keren Berger, and all the editors I worked with at Vertigo. I love them and I love Vertigo and I always will.
So, I guess when Sweet Tooth is reprinted in the future it will have "DC Black Label" in the spine. Nothing against DC Black Label, whom I enjoy working with now, but we all know the truth. Sweet Tooth is Vertigo and always will be. And so am I.