I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love Jim Zub’s Skullkickers series. It’s a tongue-in-cheek fantasy adventure book, or as I’ve heard him pitch it at cons a million times: “A buddy cop movie meets Conan.” It’s true! Skullkickers is just a blast and a half. Don’t take my word for it, though – read it yourself for free online over at http://skullkickers.keenspot.com. Be warned, though – you’ll get hooked quickly.
The series is just about to finish up its third arc with Issue 18 (a notable achievement for any comic these days), and the team is continuing with a tradition they’ve upheld since back at Issue 6. As you may know, sticking to a monthly schedule on a book can be murder for the artists. Churning out 22 pages of high-level pencils, inks and colors every month is nigh impossible, even for super-talented and speedy folks like Edwin Huang, Misty Coats and the rest of the team. So, most series use fill-in artists here or there, either on single issues or entire arcs, depending on what’s required. Skullkickers has handled the schedule conundrum in an interesting way: every sixth issue they do an anthology issue, with stories and art contributed by people who aren’t members of the regular team. It’s been a really fun way to see how others play in the SK sandbox. Skullkickers 18 is the next one to get the anthology treatment, and I am absolutely thrilled to be able to say that Jim asked me to contribute a story.
Mine’s called “The Corran’s Tears,” and the art was spectactularly drawn by Michael Mayne, of Bonnie Lass fame and others. The story’s sort of a funny little thing that I think fits nicely into the Skullkickers world, but ultimately it’ll be up to you guys to decide. It revolves around beer, for one thing, so that should help. If my participation alone doesn’t sway you to pick this one up, I bet the murderer’s row of additional talent on the book certainly will. We’re talking: Rob Guillory and John Layman, Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore, Blair Butler, J. Torres and many more.
The book will be out on SEPTEMBER 26 in comic shops everywhere. If you want to pre-order it, use Diamond order code JUL120516.
Here’s the awesome cover:
Available everywhere September 26 – don’t miss it!
Last night, on Twitter, I said this: “Starting a new thing = leaping off a cliff. You hope you fall like Jackie Chan, not Hans Gruber, but you still need to jump.” When I typed that into my phone, I was taking a momentary break from work on a big new story. It’s a work-for-hire thing, one of the higher-profile projects I’ve had so far. I hope you guys get to hear about it soon, but for now only four people know much about what’s happening.
My job right now is to break the story. In other words, I’m figuring out the main thrust of events, and the beat-by-beat layout of the thing. Themes, main characters and overarching ideas have already been mostly nailed down, so now it’s about finding how A gets to Z.
As I’ve mentioned before, most of my early-stage hacking out happens in longhand, in moleskine notebooks, and this one’s no exception. So, last night, I was sitting at a bar, with the book open to a blank page, ready to start jotting down ideas. I was mildly nervous, because as I said, this is a high-profile thing, with the potential to get me a lot of very welcome exposure. I had a beginning and an ending, but only the vaguest idea of what would come between them. But there’s nothing for it – either you start writing stuff down or you don’t. If you don’t, then you might as well give up. If you do, even if it’s bad, at least you have something to revise.
I put pen to page, and ideas began to spark, bouncing one off the other until I entered a state I think of as “ideaphoria.” I’m not claiming to have invented the term, but I think it’s a very apt way to describe the way it feels when ideas just seem to sprout one from the other, spinning out in unexpected directions. There’s a well-worn trope in writing that suggests that stories and characters can take on lives of their own, but it’s well-worn for a reason. It couldn’t be more true. The story finds you, a lot of the time, and fighting against it doesn’t do you OR the story any good. (I think that’s why some people find it really hard to work on corporate characters – directives from on high make it hard to find their own story – but that’s another discussion for another day.)
Anyway, in this particular circumstance, it felt something like I had jumped off a cliff, one with tree branches, ledges and other protrusions sticking out of its face. And as I fell, I was bouncing off all that stuff, resting here, changing direction there, but all the time with only a limited amount of control over where I was going. I was always headed down, but how I got there seemed to involve a lot of flipping around. It definitely felt pretty Jackie Chan, though. Not too Hans Gruber.
Okay, this is getting metaphorically unwieldy, but my point is that you’ve got to start. If you don’t start, you’ll never finish. See you next time – hopefully I can actually talk about some of this stuff soon. I have four big things going on that haven’t been announced, which is rough! I want to show you guys some of these things!
I put together a big proof PDF today of the first 100 or so pages of Strange Attractors, my upcoming graphic novel from Archaia. Seeing it all (mostly) assembled like that really just brought it home that I’m very lucky to be working with the team I have on this book. In case you’re wondering, that team includes:
Greg Scott -Pencils/Inks
Art Lyon -Colors
Matthew Petz -Colors
Thomas Mauer -Letters
Robert Saywitz -Complexity Maps (this will make more sense when you get the book.)
They’re all knocking it out of the park. Most are NYC natives, too, which makes a big difference for this particular book, as the city is one of the story’s most significant characters. But don’t take my word for it. Here are two gorgeous, finished and lettered, pages, presented for the first time anywhere, from Strange Attractors.
It’s like you’re right there at 42nd and Park, isn’t it?
Give me half a chance and you know I’ll work in a music reference somewhere.
Just gorgeous, right? And, I’m thrilled to be able to say that these are just the tip of the iceberg. Can’t wait for you guys to see more.