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Talking Comics with Tim | Jamie S. Rich

Spell Checkers Vol. 2: Sons of a Preacher Man

Spell Checkers Vol. 2: Sons of a Preacher Man

There are a few writers that I always look forward to interviewing, because they always surprise me. Jamie S. Rich is on that list. This week, while we discuss the second volume in Spell Checkers, Sons of A Preacher Man, his Oni Press collaboration with artists Nicolas Hitori De and Joëlle Jones, we also delve into the history of Rich’s cameos in comics (among other topics). In this latest Spell Checkers installment, the ladies of Spell Checkers (Jesse, Cynthia and Kimmie) have to deal with the murder of the student body president, the battle to find a new one and at the center of all the action: two brothers, who are new to the school. We also discuss the plans for the third volume in the series. Once you finish the interview, be sure to learn more about the project via Steve Sunu’s CBR interview with the whole Spell Checkers creative team, plus you can enjoy CBR’s 18-page preview of the book.

Tim O’Shea: How much stronger is the collective creative rapport between the three creators on this second volume?

Jamie S. Rich: Very strong. The first book is always a learning experience, not just in how we work together and what we need from each other, but in this case, it was also seeing how the material meshed, how Joëlle’s work jibed with Nico’s. Since I had a clearer notion of how they complemented one another, this time around I took a different approach to the flashbacks and made them almost their own story, letting Joëlle take the material darker by having it more about the new male characters that show up in this volume rather than just about the girls. I think it actually made the reading experience more cohesive, the two pieces meld in a more natural way.

Joëlle started closer to the end of production, so even though she had less to do, it became a race to see who would finish first, her or Nico. They can be pretty competitive. It was a close call. She kind of won, but nothing is every clear-cut in our universe!

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SDCC ’11 | A round-up of Wednesday’s news


Comic-Con International in San Diego hasn’t officially started yet—tonight was Preview Night—but the news has been rolling in. So let’s take a look at today’s announcements

• Dark Horse announced three new projects earlier this evening. They will publish a comics adaptation of The Strain, the sci-fi/vampire trilogy by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The comic will be written by David Lapham with art by Mike Huddleston.

• They also announced a series written by Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello with art by Scott Hepburn. Orchid is about a 16-year-old prostitute in a dystopian future “becoming the Spartacus of whores.” Each issue will come with a music track by Morello.

• And finally on the Dark Horse front, they will publish comics set in the young vampire world of P.C. Cast’s House of Night novel series. It will be co-written by Kent Dallan with art by Joëlle Jones. You can see a trailer promoting all three new books on YouTube.

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SDCC Wishlist | Joëlle Jones’ vintage ad prints

Vintage ads by Joëlle Jones

You Have Killed Me and Spell Checkers artist Joëlle Jones has been sharing vintage ad parodies on her blog recently, and now she’s announced she’ll have prints of six of them in San Diego this week. Each print is limited to 25 and is hand numbered. You can find her in Artist’s Alley at table #HH13

Spell Checkers: Sons of a Preacher Man due in September

Spell Checkers: Son of a Preacher Man

Both writer Jamie S. Rich and artist Joëlle Jones point out that Oni Press has released information on the second volume of their graphic novel series Spell Checkers.

The second volume, which reunites Rich and Jones with artist Nicolas Hitori de, is subtitled “Sons of a Preacher Man” and is due in September. Here’s the solicitation text:

There are two new kids at school. Twin brothers–one straight-laced and buttoned-up, the other a rebel in a leather jacket–and they’ve transferred in with trouble for the Spell Checkers. Jesse finds romance, but for Cynthia, it’s rivalry. She and the good brother compete for student body president, while Kimmie tries to find out who murdered the last one. Dark magic is afoot, as well as dark humor, in the second mystical volume of Oni’s latest hit series.

Don’t let Death win

Artist Joëlle Jones (You Have Killed Me, Spell Checkers) shares a wonderful commission she recently did, featuring Madame Xanadu and Death playing cards outside Xanadu’s brownstone. If I learned anything from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, it’s to never let Death win …

Jones is taking orders for additional commissions for the upcoming Stumptown convention in Portland. Click on the link above for details.

Comic artists belt out toons for Portland Opera

by Barry Deutsch

The Portland Opera is currently putting on performances of Turandot, and for a dress rehearsal on Jan. 31 they invited several local comic artists to watch the performance and “draw whatever struck our fancy,” according to artist Mike Russell.

Russell not only drew some artwork you can find on the Portland Opera’s website, but also created a “live comic adaptation” you can find on his site. Other artists who participated include Barry Deutsch, Aaron McConnell, Ron Randall and Joëlle Jones, among others.

You can check out all the images on the Portland Opera’s website.

Joelle Jones’s Troublemaker sketches

Book 2 of Troublemaker, the graphic novel penned by mystery writers Janet and Alex Evanovich, is out at the end of this month, and Dark Horse is celebrating by posting some of artist Joelle Jones’s sketches for the book. I happen to think Jones’s art is the best thing about Troublemaker, so this is an extra treat.

(Via Comics Worth Reading.)

Themed sketchbooks: Jamie S. Rich’s Audrey Hepburns

Yesterday we took a tour of Marvel’s Timely era, courtesy of writer B. Clay Moore, and now we turn to one of the icons of the silver screen: Audrey Hepburn.

by Joëlle Jones

Portland-based writer and editor Jamie S. Rich has one of the most popular and unique sketchbooks I’ve ran across, documenting the various looks and personae of actress Audrey Hepburn. Here’s what he had to say about it:

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Troublemaker sells well, but fans are not convinced

Troublemaker1One of the big trends of the past five years or so has been adapting prose works into graphic novels. It’s the sort of thing that seems like it can’t fail, since you pick up both graphic novel fans and the audience for the original work, but it has two major pitfalls with these books; one is publishers who rely too much on the writing and hire mediocre artists for the illustration, and the other is fans of the author who order the book online, not realizing it’s a graphic novel, and then complain about it.

Dark Horse’s Troublemaker, written by Janet and Alex Evanovich and illustrated by Joelle Jones, suffers from the latter but not the former. By all accounts, the book is doing well; it is getting good reviews, and it has been the number-one book on the New York Times graphic books best-seller list for the second week in a row. It’s not doing so well on Amazon, though, where the average customer rating is one and a half stars.

What gives? This excerpt from a one-star review, currently rated “most helpful,” pretty much sums it up:

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SDCC Wishlist | Something bitchy this way comes

Spell Checkers T-shirt

Spell Checkers T-shirt

Here’s another item you’ll be able to pick up at the Oni Press booth, if you are so inclined … a T-shirt featuring the three stars of Jamie S. Rich, Joelle Jones and Nicolas Hitori De’s Spell Checkers graphic novel. Gotta give points for a Bradbury reference, y’know?

Process: The making of Troublemaker

You can watch this page being made

You can watch this page being made

One of the graphic novels I’m most looking forward to this month is Troublemaker, written by mystery writer Janet Evanovich (creator of the Stephanie Plum series) and her daughter Alex, and illustrated by Joelle Jones (Token, Spell Checkers). It was supposed to be out last week but is now looking like a July 20 release.

In the meantime, Dark Horse has a nice promotional piece up on their site, The Making of a Comic, that shows the different steps in the creation of the graphic novel: script, thumbnails, pencils, inks, coloring, and lettering for six different pages. It’s formatted nicely in such a way that you can look at the scripts from page to page or move through all the steps for a single page. My one complaint is that the Flash-based reader loads a bit slow on my computer—at first I thought some of the pages were blank—but that quibble aside, it’s well worth a look.

Talking Comics with Tim: Sierra Hahn, Joëlle Jones

Janet & Alex Evanovich's Troublemaker

Janet & Alex Evanovich's Troublemaker

Troublemaker is a unique opportunity for Dark Horse, in which Janet Evanovich continues her best-selling Barnaby series (as first chronicled in the prose novels, Metro Girl and Motor Mouth) with her first graphic novel [co-written by Evanovich with her daughter, Alex]. Troublemaker is a two-part series–the first book comes out in July and the second book is due out in November. I recently email-interviewed the editor of the project, Sierra Hahn, as well as one of the series’ artist, Joëlle Jones. Dark Horse describes the book as follows: “Alex Barnaby and Sam Hooker are back together and fighting crime the only way they know how — by leaving a trail of chaos, panic, and disorder. Alex, an auto mechanic and spotter for racecar driver Sam Hooker, is drawn to trouble like a giant palmetto bug to a day-old taco. Unfortunately, she’s also drawn to Hooker in the same fashion. There’s no steering clear of trouble or Hooker when friends Rosa and Felicia call for help. A man has gone missing, and in order to find him Barnaby and Hooker will have to go deep into the underbelly of Miami and southern Florida, surviving Petro Voodoo, explosions, gift-wrapped body parts, a deadly swamp chase, and Hooker’s mom.” My thanks to Hahn and Jones for the interview and Dark Horse’s Jim Gibbons for his assistance.

Sierra Hahn

Tim O’Shea: When did Dark Horse first approach Janet Evanovich about the possibility of a graphic novel–how much were you involved?

Sierra Hahn: I’ve been assisting on Buffy Season Eight going on three years now, and one day discovered that Janet Evanovich had done an incredibly thoughtful review of Season Eight for Time magazine. After that, Dark Horse reached out to her not only to say thanks, but to see if she had any interest in making comics herself. I wasn’t involved with the initial outreach to Janet, and came on board after a project was decided on.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Nicolas Hitori de on Spell Checkers

Spell Checkers

Spell Checkers

Soon after friend of the blog and writer Jamie S. Rich sent me an advance PDF of his latest Oni graphic novel, Spell Checkers (set to be released by Oni this Wednesday), he also offered me the opportunity to interview artist, Nicolas Hitori de. Getting to email interview Hitori de about his collaboration (with Rich and the project’s other artist, Joëlle Jones) was a chance I could not decline. Here’s publisher Oni Press’ official description of the book: “Three teenaged witches use their power for popularity, good grades, and the good life. When nasty graffiti starts showing up about them at their school, they first suspect one another. But when they start losing their powers, and their magical fetishes disappear, they realize this is an attack from outside their circle, and they must join hands (and wits) to defeat the usurper and her demon companion!” After reading the interview, please avail yourself of the 22-page preview from Oni.

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Straight for the art | Joëlle Jones’ Madame Xanadu gallery

Wagner and Jones at Floating World Comics

Wagner and Jones at Floating World Comics

Artist Joëlle Jones recently completed a two-issue run on Vertigo’s Madame Xanadu series, the second of which goes on sale this week. She’s selling the art, and as a result you can see her pencils for issue #19 in all their magnificent glory on Flickr. She said she plans to post pages from issue #20 in a few days, “once people have had a chance to read the issue.”

In addition, as the flyer says above, she and Madame Xanadu writer Matt Wagner will appear at Floating World Comics in Portland, Ore. on March 4, where her artwork will also be on display.

Talking Comics with Tim: Jamie S. Rich

You Have Killed Me

You Have Killed Me

Back in late July/early August, Robot 6 was fortunate enough to feature independent comics industry veteran writer Jamie S. Rich guest-blogging with the group–partially in promotion of his and artist Joëlle JonesYou Have Killed Me, the 184-page hardboiled crime graphic novel released by Oni Press in mid-July. Rich, an established writer of prose and comics, recently ran circles (in a good way) around some questions I shot his way recently about his latest book. Enjoy, hopefully as much as I did.

Tim O’Shea: Back in 2006 in an interview with Tom Spurgeon you told him (about You Have Killed Me) “12 Reasons was going so well, I think we had only been working on it a couple of months, but I didn’t want to lose her to anyone else, so I asked her if she would work with me again and what she would want to do, I’d write her anything. She said she wanted to do hardboiled crime, and since I had the same passion for it she did, I jumped at it, even though it scared me because it was so different from what I’m known for. She’s challenging me in incredible ways I would never challenge myself.” Can you discuss what ways this story challenged you?

Jamie S. Rich: Well, most immediately, it required some real plotting. Relationship stories like what I had previously been known for don’t require as much careful planning, they have a natural flow, peaks and valleys that are tied to the rhythm of real life. It’s often unpredictable, less structured, and there is no definite resolution beyond whether or not these people stay together. In a crime story, you have something that happened, and the discovery of how it happened has to be detailed and lead to the revelation of the truth or the punishment of the criminal. You can’t just have a random stranger suddenly emerge and say, “Oh, yeah, this homeless drifter did it.” I mean, you could, but a lot of people would call you out for cheating, that’s not a good story. For You Have Killed Me, I had to concoct a trail for Antonio Mercer, the private detective, to folloq, and each step had to kick up new dirt and I had to keep all of that dirt ordered, even when false or a red herring. There are expectations of that kind of plot. Just as Chekhov said if there is a gun in the first act, it will go off in the third, if you need a gun to go off in the third, you might have to think about having it show up in the first. There is far less left to chance.

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