BEST BETS: "Jessica Jones," "Big Trouble/Escape from New York" & More October 2016 Highlights
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
Congratulations, Dark Horse: You pretty much own my first $15 for the week, with Dark Horse Presents #8 ($7.99) and Star Wars: Dawn of The Jedi #0 ($3.50) both being my go-to new releases for the week. DHP has the new Brian Wood/Kristian Donaldson series The Massive launching, as well as more Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson and new Skeleton Key by Andi Watson, which is a pretty spectacular line-up, and the new Star Wars book coincides with the latest flare up of my irregular longing to check up on that whole universe’s goings-on. Apparently, I’m keeping it local this week, who knew?
If I had $30, I’d add Action Comics #6 (DC Comics, $3.99) and OMAC #6 (DC Comics, $2.99) to that pile — I’m particularly treasuring the latter before it goes away, although I have to admit that the time-jumping nature of these Action fill-ins has gotten me more excited than I should ‘fess up to — as well as a couple of Ed Brubaker books, Winter Soldier #1 (Marvel, $2.99) and Fatale #2 (Image Comics, $3.50). I wasn’t bowled over by Fatale‘s debut, but it intrigued me enough to want to give it another go, while the noir + super spy sales pitch for the new Marvel series pretty much guarantees my checking the first issue out at the very least.
When it comes to splurging, there is nothing I would buy – were I rich enough — more quickly than IDW’s John Romita Sr. Amazing Spider-Man Artist Edition HC ($100), because … well, it’s classic Romita as the pages originally looked on his drawing board. How anyone can resist that (other than the price point), I don’t know.
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!
There’s a list of creators that in my estimation are not interviewed nearly enough, one such example is colorist Laura Allred. You can find several interviews with both Mike and Laura Allred together, but few rarely focus on Laura solely. So I recently crossed my fingers and shot off an email to Laura seeking to do an email interview. Much to my sheer delight, she was game for a discussion of her career as a colorist. Jamie S. Rich, long-time Allred associate and friend of Robot 6, was kind enough to share his perspective on Laura’s body of work, which helped me shape some of the topics covered in this exchange. Obviously, a huge thank you to Laura for giving so selflessly of her time. As someone who enjoyed Art Adams’ Monkeyman and O’Brien years ago, I plan to dig up my box with those issues, just to appreciate Laura’s work on it, given how highly she speaks of it in this interview.
Tim O’Shea: The life of a freelancer is never easy–and in your house, it’s extra challenging as both of you make a living either through one of the independent publishers or work through DC or Marvel. Granted at this point in your career, there is a certain brand and reputation that your work carries, still freelancing is a challenge even for successful folks as yourself. If you don’t mind me asking, how much has your faith served to buoy your spirits when the hardships of freelancing blindside you?
Laura Allred: It seems when we simply try to do our best in all our efforts, everything always seems to work out. We work hard, though Michael refuses to call it working, but we also try to make time for family and friends. So, I’ve found that my secret weapon for hardships is to just crack the whip and we get back on track. I’m only half kidding.