Image to publish Jeff Lemire’s ‘Royal City’

New comic written and drawn by Lemire comes out next March.

As noted on his blog, Jeff Lemire will write AND draw his first comic since 2013’s Trillium. Royal City, a new ongoing published by Image Comics, follows “a fading literary star who reluctantly returns to the once-thriving factory town where he grew up,” and has to deal with overbearing family, the vanishing town and the “ghosts” of his younger brother, who drowned decades prior.

“I have a two-season plan, about 20 issues of the comic, that will tell one decisive story about the Pike family,” Lemire told Entertainment Weekly. “But the idea of returning to this family of characters at different points in my life is really exciting to me. I think it could be something that I return to — an umbrella where I could tell other stories.”

The first issue is due out next March.

RoyalCity Promo Image

McNamara, Hinkle slither over to Image for new edition of ‘The Rattler’

Creators Jason McNamara and Greg Hinkle discuss the new edition of their crowdfunded graphic novel, coming from Image Comics in May.

Late last year Jason McNamara (The Martian Confederacy, First Moon, Continuity) and Greg Hinkle (Airboy) announced their crowdfunded horror graphic novel The Rattler had found a new home at Image Comics.

Inspired by true events from McNamara’s own life, the graphic novel will hit stores in March with a new cover and one new page. I spoke with McNamara and Hinkle about the new edition, how the Kickstarter campaign went and the potential for a sequel.

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Smash Pages: For those who don’t already know, can you share what The Rattler is about?

Jason McNamara: Ten years ago Stephen Thorn watched helplessly as Catherine, the love of his life, was kidnapped, never to be seen again. In the years since, Stephen has reinvented himself as a passionate and bitter victims rights advocate. But when Stephen receives a message that may or may not be from Catherine, he embarks on a grisly journey to be reunited with his lost love.

In a nutshell, it’s John Carpenter meets Americas Most Wanted.

Smash Pages: It’s been almost two years now since you launched the Kickstarter campaign for The Rattler. We spoke about it during the campaign, but let’s talk a little bit about what happened next. The campaign was obviously successful; how did fulfillment go? What did you learn along the way?

Greg: Jason had the campaign planned out backwards and forwards, with redundancies and contingencies. It was really something to see. By the time we finished the campaign, there was very little left for us to do aside from writing a check and uploading files to the respective printers. Jason already had the packaging and postage calculated by the time the books actually arrived.

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Jason knows exactly, but I think we got the book to our backers a couple of months ahead of schedule. It was really satisfying to connect with our backers on this book. Connecting directly to the people willing to give our story a chance was amazing.

Jason: What I hadn’t anticipated was how emotional running a Kickstarter would be. We were asking people to assign a perceived value to our work. To see it play out in real time with all the analytical tools inspired a lot of ups and downs. The middle part of the campaign, where nothing happens, was especially depressing.

I understand why campaigns offer more stretch goals, sometimes more than they can deliver, to keep excitement going. But I refused to introduce any goals that could delay fulfillment. Our campaign was very cut and dry, which is what I thought a comic book Kickstarter needed to be at that time.

Smash Pages: Would you do a Kickstarter again, if you had the right project?

Greg: I won’t rule anything out, but I’d probably only do something like this again with Jason. I like the idea of having an entire project ready before funding it, in order to get it in the hands of backers as soon as possible. But completing an entire story before even launching a campaign has the potential to stress out a relationship. If Jason and I hadn’t already known each other I don’t imagine it would’ve turned out the way it did.

Jason: I would do another one because I really valued the interactions I had with backers. I also love project managing and solving production problems, I geek out on that stuff. But to do another Kickstarter, the way I want to do it, to create the experience I want backers to have, would take at least a year of planning and pre-production before we launched. And it would all have to be self financed on the gamble that it would be worth it in the end. That’s a lot of external pressure to put on a writer/artist partnership.

Smash Pages: How did the deal with Image come about?

Jason: Within two months of the Kickstarting concluding we were completely sold out of copies and demand was increasing. So, it was clear we needed someone else to pick up the book and introduce it to a larger audience. Image was our first choice for obvious reasons; we created the book completely on our own, just the two of us and we were adamant about retaining 100 percent ownership.

After completing The Rattler Greg immediately jumped onto Airboy with the great James Robinson. Not a bad career trajectory right? Anyway, Greg enjoyed his relationship with image enough to put The Rattler in front of them and a deal was struck. We asked Joel Enos to join us as an editor and he’s been critical in preparing the new edition for print.

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Smash Pages: What will be different about the Image release compared to the Kickstarter edition?

Greg: There’s a new cover, and I got to go back and draw a deleted page that didn’t make the original cut, which was a blast. It’d been more than a few months since I’d finished The Rattler, so it was cool getting to revisit some familiar faces with more practice under my belt.

Jason: I made some small dialogue tweaks, nothing major.

Smash Pages: Jason, you mentioned plans for a sequel in a recent message to your Kickstarter backers. Do you already have a story mapped out, and if so, can you tell us in broad terms what it might look like?

Jason: Working with Greg inspired me to keep writing and creating characters for this world (editor Joel Enos and I call it the Hinkle-Verse). The next book in the series is a period piece taking place in 1993 and follows Emma, a 15 year old prodigy with a unique medical condition who becomes the target of a serial killer. Like The Rattler it has a lot of twists and turns and deals with some pretty dark situations but it will be more of a detective story. It will connect with, and compliment, The Rattler but will also be its own thing. Similar to how Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul co-exist.

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Smash Pages: For one of the prize tiers for the Kickstarter, you offered fans the chance to have dinner at your house, Jason. How did that go?

Jason: It was kind of a strange actually. We confirmed a date, sent a reminder and cooked up a feast. But they never showed up.

I hope they’re okay.

The Rattler arrives in March from Image Comics. Check out the cover for the new edition below:

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‘The Rattler’ strikes again at Image Comics

Jason McNamara and Greg Hinkle’s crowdfunded graphic novel finds a new home.

Following a successful Kickstarter in 2014, Jason McNamara and Greg Hinkle’s The Rattler has slithered over to Image Comics for a “mass market” release.

Inspired by true events from McNamara’s own life, the horror graphic novel is about a guy whose fiancée vanished without a trace and, 10 years later, he starts hearing her voice.

“The story was inspired by true events that happened to me on a road trip years ago,” McNamara told me last year. “I’ve written an afterword to the graphic novel that gets more into it, but basically a female friend and I were on a road trip and had a breakdown in a rural area of California. A seemingly helpful motorist stopped and offered to tow our car. Instead, he took off with my friend and left me behind. Luckily, in the true events she was able to get away, and we were able to get help. But I always wondered: What if she didn’t get away? What if I had to live with that? That was the inspiration for The Rattler.”

The Image Comics release will have a new cover and one new page, and is due out in March. If successful, McNamara hinted to the project’s Kickstarter backers that a sequel could follow. Check out the cover for the new release below:

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The Moment: Huck

huckIn this week’s edition of The Moment, I detail how in some ways Huck reminds me of Mark Millar’s 1998 Superman Adventures run.

Superman Adventures remains the high point so far 0f Millar’s work, serving return to that form dating as far back as 1998. Huck is an incredibly likeable character in the way he is characterized in these first two issues there’s an unseen optimism to him I don’t know if it will last but all I know is it’s really a refreshing change from a lot of comics currently on the market. The moment that hooked me was from issue 2 when he could have quit but he chose to presevere and help people as he always does.

Rafael Albuquerque on art is merely icing on the cake.

Smash Pages Q&A: Hardman & Bechko on ‘Invisible Republic’

irThis interview, as always with Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Sara Bechko (this time about Invisible Republic) has several gems of insight. In this Hardman notes “I want to point out how lucky we are at this point in time that the comic book industry is a place where we can tell a long form story like Invisible Republic that’s aimed at adults. That’s no small thing.”

Tim O’Shea: First off, how early in the development of the story did you realize that was easiest to mark the passage of time by making Maia’s hair red?

Gabriel Hardman: I’m always looking for simple visual signifiers like that because the content of the story we’re trying to tell is fairly complex. At least it’s heavily serialized and there’s a lot for readers to keep up with. A character having red hair in the past, then gray hair 40 years later, is money in the bank for clarity.

What were the other biggest challenges when denoting the passage of time in this time-sensitive story?

Corinna Sara Bechko: The most apparent challenge is making certain that both time lines look distinct enough for the reader to immediately tell them apart. But there’s another side to this that visuals can’t help with at all. I’m referring to the internal logic of the story, and making certain that both timelines match up when they refer to the same event, or when one event informs another. That’s an aspect that we’ve been meticulous about crafting, even though it gets more complex the further we get into the narrative. I’ve read about authors who devote whole rooms of their house to drawing out timelines on the walls for complicated stories, but I never quite believed it. Well, I’m starting to think we should do the same!

Hardman: Agreed. The relatively simple part is distinguishing the time periods visually. Keeping the content straight is the massive undertaking.

How critical was Jordan Boyd’s coloring in terms of the success of the story?

Bechko: Jordan shoulders a tremendous burden in terms of the storytelling in this book since his colors are the most immediate way that readers can tell the two timelines apart. It was immensely important to us that we work with a colorist who understood this, and who really “got” the mood we were going for.

I cannot praise Dylan Todd’s overall design sense on this book enough. What kind of instructions did Gabriel and Corinna give Dylan?

Hardman: It was actually a very painless process. Dylan had designed the print collection for my solo book KINSKI so when he came onboard for IR, there was already a relationship there. I gave him some references for the kind of thing we were looking for in the design of the supplementary pages and logo and he nailed it with few revisions. I like it what creative work goes easily.

Which supporting characters have exceeded your initial expectations?

Bechko: Definitely Woronov, the female reporter in the present. She wasn’t going to have a large role at first, but she just insisted on it. And Henry’s role has become a lot more important as we’ve scripted the second arc. It’s always interesting when characters go places you don’t expect.

Hardman: Woronov is definitely a favorite character to write. And it will be fun to show that Henry isn’t just Maia’s henchman as we move forward.

With an iconic character like McBride how hard was it write him in a manner that gave him depth versus the caricature of merely a charismatic leader?

Bechko: It’s almost a cliché to say that everyone is the hero of their own story, but Arthur McBride definitely things of himself in that way. As long as we remember that, it’s not hard to make sure that he’s got some dimension to him.

Hardman: Also, we are strictly operating under the idea that characters are defined by their actions. If there are conflicts and contradictions in Arthur’s behavior, that’s how he keeps from becoming a cliché. But at that, Arthur isn’t the main character, Maia is. She’s the one we have to worry about the most.

What was the key to getting the right voice for Croger Babb?

Bechko: I think we’ve all met people like Croger. He means well, most of the time, but he’s a bit myopic about certain subjects. He’s kind of an amalgam of several people, and we try to keep in mind what an actual person in his position would care about and do. He’s not a super hero, he’s just a really stubborn guy with a bit of an overblown sense of his own importance.

Hardman: There is one specific person that Babb is based on but I’m not saying who.

Gabriel, I love your use of white space to let some of the panel layouts breath. Can you share your thoughts on that front.

Hardman: In part, the lack of panel boarders are one of the simple ways we define the pages set in the present. It gives the impression of more white on the page. But more broadly, I tend to use a lot of texture and detail so you need some negative space so the art doesn’t become busy and overwhelming.

Anything we should discuss that I neglected?

Bechko: I want to take a moment to point out the fauna and flora of Avalon. A lot of this will become important later, but so far it’s been a bit in the background. Even so, Gabriel is designing some really cool creatures. We’ll learn a lot more soon about Jo the “dog,” for instance.

Hardman: I want to point out how lucky we are at this point in time that the comic book industry is a place where we can tell a long form story like Invisible Republic that’s aimed at adults. That’s no small thing.

Thanks for giving us this chance to chat about our book, Tim!

The Moment: Huck 1

huckIn this week’s edition of The Moment, I detail how in some ways Huck reminds me of Mark Millar’s 1998 Superman Adventures run.

Superman Adventures remains the high point so far 0f Millar’s work, serving return to that form dating as far back as 1998. Huck is an incredibly likeable character in the way he is characterized in these first two issues there’s an unseen optimism to him I don’t know if it will last but all I know is it’s really a refreshing change from a lot of comics currently on the market. The moment that hooked me was from issue 2 when he could have quit but he chose to presevere and help people as he always does.

Rafael Albuquerque on art is merely icing on the cake. 

 

 

 

Smash Pages Q&A: Phil Hester on Image ‘Mythic’

Late September saw the release of Mythic #4 by Phil Hester and John McCrea — to mark the release I interviewed Hester.

Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Phil Hester on Image ‘Mythic’”

Smash Pages Q&A: Image’s ‘Ringside’ Creative Team

The next Image Comics ongoing series from writer Joe Keatinge (SHUTTER, Adventures of Superman), RINGSIDE, introduces artist and co-creator Nick Barber for an ensemble drama set around the world of professional wrestling. An exclusive teaser trailer featuring all-new material from RINGSIDE #1 will debut in THE WALKING DEAD #147 in stores on October 14th and will outline the new series’ characters and storyline for the very first time. To mark the upcoming release Smash Pages Tim O’Shea spoke with Keatinge, Barber as well as colorist Gough and letterer Maher.

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Simon please discuss the muted coloring approach to the series?

Simon Gough: Well, the colouring process is very simple compared to a lot of other work I’ve done, and I’m trying to get that balance of not over rendering like i’m used to, which in turn is letting me play around with the colours a lot more. Its great to get a job where I have time to experiment with the palettes, and put more effort into that side of colouring, as usually its quite technical and can be repetitive. Its hugely important for me to work ‘with’ Nick lines for this book too, and Nick has been nudging me in the right direction, so its been great collaboration as well. The whole team have been working hand in hand throughout to get the pages where we want them.

The issues so far all go through a fairly broad spectrum, where I’m trying my best to give a distinction for each scene.The emphasis on the muted colours will change depending on the mood or action that’s going on, so hopefully you’ll see some noticeable changes in emotion throughout as the story unfolds.

Ariana care to discuss lettering approach?

Ariana Maher: There’s a slightly uneven aspect to the word balloons to reflect the content of both the script and art. A clean, uniform style in the balloons and the text – the sort of style that could work for a different series – would look too sterilized and out-of-place in Ringside’s world. Imperfect works best here. I have to put thought into making mistakes in a mindful way. Though, hopefully, no one will give those details any notice. If readers get drawn into the book without distraction, then I’ll know the lettering works.

I’m looking forward to working on sound effects in Ringside. It’s a bold, harsh world. There are some very loud moments, so accentuating those scenes gives me some very enjoyable challenges to work with. I’ve already had some fun with the very first page of issue #1 because I’m bilingual and the guys didn’t stop me from goofing off with some of the fliers and signs.

What goes into your philosophy for the art Nick?

I’m a fan of high contrast, noir style artwork so that’s definitely the design philosophy I use. On RINGSIDE the art is literally rough around the edges, I’ve been tweaking exactly how rough to go with it – but wanted something that conveyed the tone of the story. Less-is-more is definitely the rule I go by with my stuff – I hate reading comics where the energy has been suffocated by overworked art. But yeah, pretty much my philosophy is how can I tell the story and convey the acting simply and clearly.

Can both of you single out characters that are really growing on you in the creative process?

Nick: All of the characters have become really special to me. Everytime there’s a new script I’m anxious to see what’s happening with each of them. As far as a creative process, I definitely have a sliding scale or how I want a character to look in a certain panel depending on what they’re feeling or conveying. So that’s part of a growth process too – I will push faces into a pretty cartoony area if it feels right, other times maybe go more ‘realistic’ I like having the freedom to do that. Sometimes it’s trial and error of what is more appealing or what might have been too far (either side of the scale). I think playing around with their design like that has made me really fond of the whole cast, I feel like I know their faces, their clothes, their environments etc pretty intimately now that I’m heading towards finishing the first arc of the story.

What are the biggest advantages to publishing with Image?

Nick: I’m new to comics, so Image is the only publisher I’ve worked for so far. In that regard it’s pretty hard to compare it to any other publishers. But one of the things I really like about Image is the freedom you get to create your own book. Our team is small, but we’re all on the same page with the look and feel of this book. There isn’t any meetings going on elsewhere about what should be happening in RINGSIDE – it’s completely up to us. Ownership is obviously a huge advantage – it feels really nice to be creating something with Joe that we own. Another advantage of working with Image is how good everyone there has been on the publisher end of things – a really great team, they’ve helped get the word out about RINGSIDE – obviously first announcing it at Image Expo which led to a lot of excitement.
Can both of you single out characters that are really growing on you in the creative process

Joe: It’s a bit of a cheap answer to say, “all of them,” but that’s part of the point of the series. How all these different characters from all these different perspectives and backgrounds interact. What one’s actions has an effect on someone they otherwise never knew. As it builds, it’ll become more evident.

What are the biggest advantages to publishing with image

Joe: Everything. There’s no better place to have total control over your own work. No one gives the same level of ownership as they do. Other companies will claim you keep 100% of your copyright, sure, but then they tie you in forever on print rights or digital rights or foreign rights or media rights. There’s always something. And some of those companies do a great job of making sure they earn their cut, but I find that Image just works best for me. If you want total freedom without anyone else, they’re great. If you want the support of a huge team who knows their shit, they’re perfect. I choose for something in the middle, where I regularly talk sales with Corey Murphy, publishing with Eric Stephenson, marketing strategy with Kat Salazar, production with Addison Duke, design with Drew Gill and so on and so on. They have been a major help on every single level. They’re an essential part of the team behind Ringside.

And even still, Nick and I choose everything. Our paper stock. Our pagination. What ads go in the book, if anything. Who represents our media rights, what kind of cut they get, who we bring on for editorial (because I love working with a good, simpatico editor), who does our logo, who colors the book, who letters the book. You don’t get to do that to such a degree anywhere else. Plus it helps their brand is so damn strong right now. My weird world explorer book can thrive in tradepaperbacks. I’m looking forward to what they do with this wrestling ensemble drama. No one’s able to compete on the same level with creator-owned work; the numbers speak for themselves.

Look, I’ve worked with other companies, loved doing it and will likely do it again, but for the type of work I’m doing now, which is largely creator-owned, original series, Image and their subsidiary, Skybound, have been amazing to work with.

Has anyone ever said there was a Tintin quality to your art Nick?

Nick: No! But I’ll take it. Personally I don’t see it, but I love Hergé. The big influences on this book (and my work in general) were Jose Munoz, Hugo Pratt, Eduardo Risso, Gabriel Ba, Taiyou Matsumoto, Rueben Pellejero, Toth… a lot more, just that high contrast school of cartooning. I don’t think I could ever work as cleanly as Hergé!

Has anyone ever said there was a Tintin quality to Nick’s art?

Joe: That’s funny, even as big a Hergé fan as I am, I didn’t pick up on it until you mention it, but you’re totally right. I can see it in Nick’s character’s facial expression especially. Interesting call, even if it’s unintentional.

What did both of you most enjoy about that two page spread wrestling scene?

Nick: For me that was just about making a really BIG page turn. The moonsault is a really dramatic move, it sort of slows down time. The opening pages of issue one really ramp up this spread beautifully so I wanted to hit the right note. It places the reader right there at ringside too. It’s a cinematic opening to what is going to be a really epic ongoing series.

What did both of you most enjoy about that two page spread wrestling scene

Joe: I’ve been thinking more and more in how to keep a reader’s attention. There’s more distractions than ever or, at least, more ways for the things in our lives to distract us. With Shutter, I started writing on the Inside Front Cover, so you’re instantly immersed in the comic book. You are in the world without a beat of a credits page or ad to distract you from it. With Ringside, we’re largely a slow burn book, but I wanted to work in something which similarly immersed you in the world, but also gave a rough idea of the different perspectives we’d be seeing it from through the first arc. As readers will see, we have a slow burn, somewhat dense with panels, until a huge kick in the ass of a double page spread, made beautiful by Nick and Simon, with Brandon’s massive logo and Ariana’s design completely selling it.

‘Nowhere Men’ returns with new artist Dave Taylor

Taylor takes over as artist from Nate Bellegrade with issue #7, which arrives in January.

Nowhere Men, the “scientists-as-rock-stars” comic by Image co-publisher Eric Stephenson, artist Nate Bellegrade and Einser award-winning colorist Jordie Bellaire, will return in January with a new artist, Dave Taylor (Batman: Death by Design, Judge Dredd, Prophet).

“It’s very cool to work on something you admire,” Taylor said in the press release. “My respect for the first series is making me work extra hard to fulfil Eric’s concept to the end, in fact, this is the best work I’ve done for years.”

Continue reading “‘Nowhere Men’ returns with new artist Dave Taylor”