While many artists have trouble working on one comic at a time, Ryan Kelly is currently doing six. In a post about his projects for the coming year, Kelly runs down the list:
- Three, Kieron Gillen’s historically accurate response to 300: “With Saucer ending,” Kelly says, “I consider Three my main 2013 project.”
- Anthem, with Brian Wood: Kelly describes it as “a ‘return to form’ for us and Local.” He writes, “If you’ve ever wanted a sequel to Local, then you better support this!”
- Saucer Country: Although the Vertigo series has been canceled, Kelly still has two issues to draw.
- Funrama: Kelly’s own creation that he both writes and draws. We’re big fans of the series, and are excited Kelly is still working on it a little each week. He’s trying to get the third issue done in time for C2E2, but we’ll cut him some slack. Six comics!
- Cocotte: The webcomic Kelly does with Kat Vapid about the life of a cook in an upscale restaurant.
- Top Secret Mystery Project: “I’m drawing three issues of a pretty big thing. I can’t say much yet. Just think of the biggest thing you can think of and that’s probably it. I’d show samples but anything I show would be instantly recognizable.”
Concerning that last one: Let the speculating begin! Assuming it’s a superhero comic for DC or Marvel, what do you hope Kelly is working on?
This has been a year of change in comics — for creators, for individual titles, for companies and for the industry at large. For Brian Wood, it was professionally one of his most volatile years since he quit his day job as a designer to work in comics full-time. It saw Wood end his twin creator-owned titles at Vertigo (DMZ and Northlanders), end his exclusive contract with DC Comics, and begin a new era mixing creator-owned with an unprecedented (for him) number of work-for-hire books
As we stand on the edge of this year and peer into the next, Wood is looking to build on 2012 projects like Conan the Barbarian, The Massive and Ultimate Comics X-Men with a new creator-owned series, Mara, debuting next week from Image Comics, and then on Jan. 9 launching his highest-profile project to date: Star Wars, a highly anticipated Dark Horse monthly set between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and featuring familiar characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo. Brian Wood Month redux? Perhaps.
Comic Book Resources has interviewed Wood about each of his upcoming projects, so in this conversation I’m able to focus on the big picture, addressing his career and the context of his projects. Wood and I discuss changes at DC that led to his departure, what could have been had he stayed, and his plans both inside and outside of comics.
You can’t keep a good project down. And as it turns out, you can’t keep secret a project two creators really want to do — even if they haven’t found a publisher for it yet.
After hinting at it for more than a year, Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly debuted a piece of promotional art for a comic series titled Anthem. The image (you can see it in full below) is being used for a limited-edition T-shirt print; only 50 shirts will be printed, and I’d estimate since it was announced Tuesday they’ve already sold a good number. Maybe our Robot 6 readership can clear them out.
Being a comics creator is not unlike being a musician: You start out on your own, working out of your garage, and you meet up with other liked-minded souls and try to make a go of it with projects. Some ascend to being the comics equivalent of U2, while other flow in and out of the independent and mainstream scene as their wills, and their fans, take them. Some mainstream creators wish they were considered more “indie,” while some independent creators might want to try some of that mainstream Top 40 hit genre they grew up on, while not forsaking their indie roots.
Artist Ryan Kelly wants to do a little bit of everything. Kelly broke into comics as a graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and Peter Gross’ inker/assistant/finisher on books like Lucifer and Books of Magic. After doing his first major work with the graphic novel Giant Robot Warriors, he came into his own beside Brian Wood on the epic 12-issue travelogue/memoir Local. Since then the two have re-teamed for stints on DMZ and Northlanders and on New York Four and its sequel New York Five. Earlier this year Kelly partnered with Paul Cornell for the Vertigo ongoing series Saucer Country, Kelly’s first as a lead artist. But Kelly’s not content to just do one thing — he also balances a weekly foodie webcomic called Cocotte with writer Kat Vapid and his own self-published comic Funrama, as well as several other projects in the works.
And if that wasn’t enough, he wants to draw superheroes. You hear that, Marvel and DC?
What follows is an expansive conversation between Kelly and myself where I ask him questions I’ve been wondering about for years and ones springing out of his most recent endeavors.