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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!
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.
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?
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.
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 Jones‘ You 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.