Next month (August 3 to be exact) marks the release of writer Philip Gelatt and artist Tyler Crook‘s original graphic novel (published by Oni Press), Petrograd. To mark the upcoming release, Crook was kind enough to do an email interview with me. You might also recognize Crook’s name and work, given the fact he started his high profile role as Dark Horse’s B.P.R.D. artist this month. We discuss both projects. But before the interview begins, here’s Oni’s description of Petrograd: “During the height of the first World War, a reluctant British spy stationed in the heart of the Russian empire is handed the most difficult assignment of his career: orchestrate the death of the mad monk, the Tsarina’s most trusted adviser and the surrogate ruler of the nation. From the slums of the working class into the opulent houses of the super rich, he’ll have to negotiate dangerous ties with the secret police, navigate the halls of power, and come to terms with own revolutionary leanings, all while simply trying to survive.” Once you’ve read the interview, be sure to also visit CBR’s Petrograd preview.
Tim O’Shea: Were you interested in Russian history at all before tackling Petrograd? Once you got involved with the project, how much research did you have to do, on a variety of subjects, including the British Secret Service?
Tyler Crook: I was only interested in Russian history a little bit before this project. But mostly I’ve been interested in Russian Literature. Mostly Gogol and Dostoyevsky. Reading that stuff requires a little bit of history knowledge but I only ever figured out enough to get by. Phil Gelatt, the writer, did most of the heavy lifting when it came to doing the research. I read a couple books about the Soviet Revolution and scoured my local libraries for book with photos of Russia during the time period. I tried to use Google sparingly. The hardest part was finding photos of regular people doing regular things.
Oni Press sent over their big list o’ items they’ll have at their booth, which includes shirts, prints and other items. They’ll also debut two very ambitious and awesome-sounding graphic novels, One Soul by Ray Fawkes and Petrograd by Phil Gelatt and Tyler Crook. They’ll also have copies of the first two issues of Spontaneous (you can read the first issue right here on Robot 6!)
Oni will also conduct portfolio reviews for artists; check out the details at the end of the post.
Oni Press is in San Diego for San Diego Comic-Con 2011! July 20th – 24th we’ll be strutting our stuff at booth #1833. Come by and check out our eclectic library of titles including the premiere of:
By Ray Fawkes
*Every copy purchased at the show comes with a limited edition signing card*
From visionary cartoonist Ray Fawkes comes one of the most original and thought-provoking graphic novels of all time! A unique and poetic narrative, One Soul takes the experiences of 18 individuals and weaves them into the spiritual journey of a lifetime. Gracefully flowing from character to character, moment to moment, Fawkes has crafted a stunning mosaic that takes advantage of the medium of sequential art in a way few creators dare.
Conventions | Although final figures aren’t yet available, WonderCon organizers confirm attendance likely surpassed the 39,000 fans who came to last year’s convention. [Publishers Weekly]
Publishing | On his always-interesting new blog, Jim Shooter reminisces about the genesis of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: “We went through a number of ideas for names for the toy line and series. Mattel’s focus group tests indicated that kids reacted positively to the words ‘wars’ and ‘secret.’ Okay.” [Jim Shooter]
Publishing | Longtime print broker Chikara Entertainment, which also offered book packaging and consulting services, has closed. [ICv2.com]
Retailing | Sarah Cohen provides a snapshot of South Florida comic stores struggling amid a weak economy and a changing marketplace. Some retailers have changed their strategies by diversifying their merchandise, holding events and reaching out to customers via the Internet. Others, however, prefer to do business the way they always have. “Making events and using social networking is pushy,” says Jorge Perez, owner of A&M Comics and Books in Miami. “It might help business, but then you would be on the computer all day doing stuff like that.” A&M, the oldest comic store in Florida one of the oldest in the nation, has seen business drop by about 40 percent since 2008. [Miami Herald]
This is one we’ve been excited about for awhile now … at their WonderCon panel yesterday, Oni Press announced that Petrograd, Phil Gelatt and Tyler Crook’s graphic novel about the murder of Gregorii Rasputin, arrives in stores Aug. 3.
I first spoke to Gelatt about the project back in 2009, when it was announced at the San Diego Comic Con.
“The root of the idea came from some reading I was doing, a few years ago at this point, about the Russian revolution,” Gelatt told me back then. “And I encountered this strange rumor that has been floating around since Rasputin’s death that there were British spies involved in the assassination and that the British government had a stake in this man’s death for various reasons. It’s a rumor that’s been around since 1917 but more recently some forensic evidence has made it seem that this might actually be what happened. So the potential in that idea really grabbed me and stuck with me. What the hell were the British doing assassinating a Russian holy man? Who was this British agent charged with this monumental task? How the hell would any of that actually work?”
You may know Gelatt from the pair of Labour Days books he did with Rick Lacy for Oni; Crooks, meanwhile, is the recently announced replacement for Guy Davis on the B.P.R.D. comics. He’s also drawing issue #14 of The Sixth Gun.
The $29.99 two-color hardcover comes in at 274 pages. Check out a gallery of preview pages after the jump.
On any other day this would have been the very first thing I wrote about, but I figured you may have already been aware, thanks to the high-pitched wails of “NOOOOOOOOOO” that echoed throughout Twitterdom when the news broke Saturday at Emerald City Comicon: Artist Guy Davis is leaving B.P.R.D. The current B.P.R.D: Hell on Earth: Gods miniseries will mark the end of Davis’s run as the regular artist for the core Hellboy spinoff, which along with its parent title formed the heart of the “Mignolaverse.” Newcomer Tyler Crook will take over as the book’s artist with the subsequent arc, Monsters — his second-ever comic from a major publisher. Davis himself will focus on his creator-owned title The Marquis and other projects. Click the links for CBR’s interviews with both artists on the changeover.