Monthly Archives: November 2006

Shazam Production Journal: The Seven Deadly Enemies of Man

Blog entry by Jeff

Starting Wednesday Nov. 29, the preview pages from Shazam: Monster Society of Evil that feature a small portion of Captain Marvel's origin in the Hall of The Seven Deadly Enemies of Man will be up on the DC Comics website. Here are some of the panels from the Golden Age that influenced my version.

When it came time to draw the famous statues, there was no question how they should look. I liked the strange Tiki god quality of the original Seven Deadly Enemies of Man and I drew them exactly the way artist C.C. Beck did. The only exception was that I added fangs and sharper ears to Hatred so we could differentiate him from Pride.

The other thing I stayed true to was the death of the old wizard; a surprising and shocking end to the scene that I tried to replicate. This particular panel isn't in the short preview, but will be in the comic, and I  thought you might enjoy the comparison anyway.

Shazam! preview pages on Saturday

Blog entry by Jeff

DC has e-mailed me to say that a series of preview pages from the first issue of SHAZAM! Monster Society of Evil are going up on the Newsarama site this Saturday. The pages will then go live on the DC site next Wednesday,  Nov. 29.

The four issue mini-series that I have been writing & drawing for the past two years is scheduled to ship in February,  just in time for the New York Comic Com!

Hello, Columbus!

Blog entry by Jeff

It’s good to be back home. 

A cheeseburger and a Coke isn’t the first thing I ate when I arrived in the States, but darn near. And this is no flavorless fast food snack – - this an honest  cheeseburger from a real American bar & grill called The Thurman Cafe; a local place where you go after softball in the summer. A half pound of ground beef dripping with melted American cheese,  topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato and onions, served with chips and a pickle on the side. What, you think I just like to eat when I’m in Europe?

Actually, there's a lot going on, some big news about Shazam! and there's a big book fair this weekend in Montreal, but I'll put up a report later this week.

Lucca, Italy; unspoiled beauty and comic book hot spot; The End

Blog entry by Jeff

Lucca is a medieval walled city not far from Florence. We arrive in the evening and I go straight to a panel being held about the importance of different formats in comics publishing…

On the far left is Igort Tuveri , the independent cartoonist/publisher of Coconino Press . He publishes many wonderful art comics including his own BAOBAB. He is very passionate about the format being in service to the art of the comic. I agree. At the far right is my friend Dark Horse editor Diana Schutz. The two of them engage in an earnest exchange of questions about knowing when to concede to certain market realities. When should an artist give in to a format that the marketplace dictates? Suddenly, I realized this panel was not about the size and shape of a comic at all.  If I understand what the conversation was really about, I think the European publishers are not only looking over their shoulders at Manga, but at the new Graphic Novel format.  The size of many GNs, like BONE and BLANKETS and many others, including new works by European artists like David B. are closer to standard book dimensions than the traditionally larger European albums. This is an interesting new twist.

The next day I make my way to my Italian publisher's booth, Panini Comics

 From the left is Francesco, me, Marco Lupoi the Publishing Director, and Matteo. Thanks, guys, the book looks great! 

Inside the Panini booth, I meet my German (!) translator, Monja Reichert, who happens to live in Lucca.

Panini hosts a couple of great signings, and as a festival Guest of Honor, I also take part in a spotlight panel, where Marco Lupoi agrees to interview and translate for me. 

It's a lively crowd, and we all laugh a lot. Someone asks about the shifts in BONE from humor to darkness and back. 

My favorite books are the ones that start out like a kid's adventure story like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and grow more complex and dark as the story unfolds. After the interview, I sign books for everyone.

The signings take what little is left out of me – - as soon as I finish, my right arm starts to spasm. But I don’t care, I’m done! The final signing of the European leg of the tour! BEEEYOW!!

Outside, I run into cartoonist Kikuo Johnson. 

Kikuo is the author of the award winning book The Night Fisher. You can read an excellent review at Bookslut. And another one at The Onion's A.V. Club. He and ten other cartoonists are staying in a villa just outside of town in the Tuscan mountains. I’ve been talking about Kikuo Johnson for some time now, because almost every journalists wants to know what other comics I recommend, and The Night Fisher is on the top of my list.  And for the record, the other books on my current must-read list are:  Louis Riel by Chester Brown, Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays, Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley, and the FLIGHT anthologies edited by Kazu Kibuishi. 

For lunch, I have a big, hot bowl of local white bean soup known as Farro , drizzled with olive oil. This is the best soup on earth, and if you don’t believe me, ask anyone who has tasted it. They’ll back me up.

At long last we're finished. The tour is over. Panini has done a great job with the books, and has sold out of all the copies of BONE they brought to the show. The festival's organizer Giovanni Russo has taken care of our every need from the moment we arrived until we depart. We're very grateful. Tonight we catch a flight to Frankfurt and then head back home to Ohio. Just time for a quiet stroll along the top of the medieval wall that circles this beautiful city. Next time you see me will be back home in the States. Ciao!

Venice; a couple of days won’t hurt

Blog entry by Jeff

Before we go to Lucca, Vijaya and I stop off in Venice for a few days of rest. 

It’s a beautiful city. More beautiful even than I thought it would be.

We check into our hotel near St. Mark's Square. 

The view from our room is a knock out.

We meet up with Bob and Gina Chapman from Graphitti Designs. They were in Rome on vacation and we had plans to hook up in Venice. They are going with us to Lucca, which is one of Bob’s favorite cities.

This is Harry’s Bar, a famous tourist spot where Ernest Hemmingway and Orson Wells used to hang out. The trademark Bellini drinks are overpriced, but the waiters were cool. They gave me the biggest shot of whiskey I've had in a while. And I appreciated it. We spend the next four days wandering around the city's canals and back streets, finding good food and wine.

The time off does me and my arm some good, and I’m ready for the last push. Let's go to Lucca…

Oslo; the storm has passed

Blog entry by Jeff

I’m excited as soon as our plane lands in Norway. A huge storm has been swirling around the European continent for days and the forecast for Oslo is cold, gray and rainy, but the sun is out and the downtown is blazing in bright Fall colors. I’m met at the at the airport by my editor from Egmont, Iselin Rosjo Evensen who is holding a copy of the Norwegian BONE – - a glorious oversized treasury that contains the complete first three books together

I can’t get over how big and cool this version is. I think it may be the best of all the editions, including my own! The afternoon is spent talking with reporters from newspapers, radio, and websites.  I even go to the largest paper in the city to participate in a live on-line chat.  This is a mad thing to do.  I can’t type for anything, and yet you have to go as fast as you can; almost without thinking. Still it was worth doing – - the questions were a mix of love and complete irreverence. Perfect!

The first signing is at a really interesting book shop called Tronsmo.As soon as i get there I find a warm, happy crowd waiting. On the corner of the table you can see how chunky the books are.

This is a common site at signings, people getting comfy while they wait.

Grethe and Tanja, two of the Egmont team.

The next day I have a panel with Lise Myhre, the creator of Nemi. Nemi , the ongoing adventures of a young goth girl is the most popular comic in Norway, and is growing quickly in the UK. This panel is my main event at the Bok I Sentrum festival, but somehow, I don’t have any pictures of this event. If anyone out here has some and wants to e-mail them to me, I’ll post them when I can.

After the panel, Lise and I have a combined signing.

When we go out that evening, I try to get a candid shot of Lise for the blog, but she catches me everytime…

Finally she relents and agrees to a “sweet” picture with Vijaya.

Aw…

We end the evening with some of Lise's friends, including Sigbjoern Stabursvik, my original Norwegian editor from a different company, but now a proud member of Egmont. Our visit to Oslo is short, but filled with good signings, good publicity, and friends. Mission accomplished! Many thanks to Iselin (who took most of the pictures above and wasn't in any herself!), Grethe, Tanja, and Svein Erik Soland for bringing me here and making it really worth while!  Okay, we’re getting close now, only one more stop on this leg of the World Tour: Lucca, Italy… a festival in a small medieval walled city that I have claimed  – - for ten years now – - to be my favorite comic book show in the world.  Can it live up to my memory? We'll see…

UK; The road starts to take its toll

Blog entry by Jeff

I'm beat. After Spain and France, there are blisters on my hands from doing signings — one signing, if not two every day. Then I have to be on a train or a plane by 8 or 9 am every morning to go to the next city. I’m starting to forget where I am or what language to use to say Hello. A country that speaks English melts what's left of my brain.

In the middle of this photo is my good friend Bryan Talbot. We are standing in GOSH! Comics. Most people reading this know who Bryan is, but for anyone new, he is the award winning author of the graphic novels The Tale of One Bad Rat and The Adventures of Luther Arkwright. Bryan has a new book coming out called Alice in Sunderland.  On the left is Josh Palmano, the owner of GOSH! Comics. Bryan took me by Josh's shop to introduce me. What a great place, two floors of excellent comics and GNs. GOSH! isn't on this year's tour, but it definitely will be next time!

As far as the current World Tour goes, the UK is a mixed bag. The books are selling well, but our UK publisher, Harper Collins, released the new color BONE months ago, with no regard for our simultaneous releases across the rest of Europe.  There is no publicity or any media interviews scheduled, and no advance announcement for our signings as far as I can determine. The signing at Foyles was actually cancelled due to lack of interest! At least the manager at Foyles had the decency to call that morning and admit their publicist was out sick and hadn’t told anyone about the event… Most people would have let me show up and die a little inside.

But things aren’t all bad; fifteen people show up at Borders and even though it’s a small group, we had a good time. 

No one from Borders actually spoke to us, but Vince Laine, an ex-Borders employee looked after me. He took most of these pictures.

One reader showed up because he had heard about BONE on a podcast out of New York called Indie Spinner Rack.

This guy's favorite pocast is called Comic Geek Speak. He called to leave them a message and I chimed in.

The next evening we had a signing at the legendary comic shop Forbidden Planet, and it is a knock out.

I should have known my own people would rally!

Thanks to everyone at Forbidden Planet! Because of you, I leave London on a high note. Now, on to Norway!

Paris, an overview

Blog entry by Jeff

The couple of days we spend in France are a whirlwind. There was the trip to Caen, dinner with our old friend and publisher, Guy Delcort,  a marathon session of media interviews, all expertly overseen by Delcort Editions’ Emmanuelle Klein, and the whole thing ending with a fantastic signing at the Album Comic Shop.

Vijaya and I made time to visit Giverny, Claude Monet’s home and garden.

This sounds silly to say, but everything looks like a Monet painting! 

On Sunday evening, we ate dinner with Guy & Sophie at an upscale comics themed restaurant called Alcazar. A reference to TinTin and the Picaros.

Complete with a portrait of the glorious leader himself!

On Tuesday we had a big signing at Album, the comic shop just a few blocks from Notre Dame. 

The signing at Album was terrific. I can always count on my dear friend Olivier Jalabert, the shop’s manager to take care of everything.

He tells me he sold a large quantity of BONE books leading up to the appearance.These are actually the black & white editions that Delcourt has been publishing; they are waiting to premier the new color books at Anguleme , the world’s largest comics festival – - a yearly event that draws almost a quarter of a million people to a small medieval walled city every January. 

Afterward, Olivier took me and two local comics artists, Pascal Alixe and Olivier Coipel out for lunch (also in the photo, second from the left is Julien Drouet from Album). Olivier Coipel draws House of M, Avengers, and Legion of Superheroes, and Pascal is working on Fantastic Four. Olivier Jalabert is the one being pummeled. It was a good  lunch.  From there we had to grab a taxi to the airport. Considering the new color French edition of BONE isn’t coming out until January – -  I think the visit has been very productive.  Much national media has been put in place to prepare for BONE’s new release. We leave France happy and satisfied. Special thanks to Thierry Mornet, Cedric Illand, and Emmanuelle Klein. Next stop: London…

Caen

Blog entry by Jeff

An hour train ride outside of Paris is the beautiful city of Caen, in Normandy. Our signing is in a tiny shop called La Cour des Miracles – run by husband and wife Jean Marie & Sophie. The shop isn’t normally open on Monday, but it was the only day we could fit the visit into the schedule, so they held a lottery for 35 tickets, and opened the shop just for us.

The signing was unusual in a couple of ways; first, the building is from the sixteen hundreds, and we climbed an ancient, curved stone stairway up to a little loft where the event would actually take place. In the picture below, that's owner Jean Marie on the far right.

Then, instead of  forming a que, five or six of the ticket holders wandered into the loft and sat around while we all chatted. Every now and then, someone would hand me their book for a sketch and a dedication,  then say good-bye.

One young woman came from 200 kilometers away, and another guy came from Moscow – - bringing us a bottle of Bodka to prove it!

This went on for a couple of hours and was one of the most pleasant and friendly signings I’ve ever been part of.

We left late at night, happy and hungry. The owners took a big group of friends (and Vijaya and me) out to dinner and for a walk around the city.  Thanks, Sophie, Jean Marie and everyone else! 

We’ll always have Paris

Blog entry by Jeff

When I get off the plane at Charles DeGaul Airport, I get a text message from Vijaya saying her flight was delayed, and she would probably miss her connection at JFK. But then the next message beeped in to tell me she was waiting at a wine bar a couple of blocks from our hotel.

We meet and have two glasses of delicious Bordeaux. Ah, Paris…