Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How old do I need to be to wax nostalgic?

I was just perusing the solicitations for DC's August releases. It's heartening to see so many familiar names there. It gives proof to the theory that busting your ass and sticking to it will prevail, in the face of all logic.

Bear with me here. I don't do the memory lane thing too often, but tonight I'm doing it in style.

I first entered comics as a "creator" around 1998, co-editing and contributing to a book called Love in Tights, with friend and writer J. Torres. Up to that point, J.'s only credit had been The Copybook Tales (track down the Oni collection), published by Slave Labor Graphics. J. and his pal Tim Levins turned clever minicomics into a terrific (and rather unique) comic book detailing the hopes and dreams of two aspiring comic creators, complete with flashbacks to their eighties adolescence. J. eventually published Siren and Monster Hunters, Inc. through Image Comics (which is how I became familiar with the way Image worked), and conceived Love in Tights for SLG. He invited me to contribute, and I ended up doing most of the editing for the book, as well as assembling the files and sending them off to Slave Labor for publication. Somehow we struggles through six issues between 1998 and 2000, and I learned a LOT about the industry.

Within the pages of LiT, we also published the first (or some of the first) work of creators such as Francis Manipul, J. Bone, Kalman Andrasofszky, Josh Blaylock, Takeshi Miyazawi, Mike Hawthorne and Mike Norton, all of whom have gone on to nice careers in "mainstream" comics. Most of these guys became friends, and some of them very close friends.

So today I was perusing the August solicitations from DC Comics (as I said before, right?), and it was pretty fucking cool to see how many pals are doing good work for DC. Guys I've known for years, and "come up with" as we all kept swimming against the tide, hoping to make an impact.

To whit:

J. Torres has four books coming out from DC (or DC/Wildstorm) this month, including Wonder Woman, Ninja Scroll, Teen Titans Go and the Legion cartoon book.

Mike Norton is drawing the All New Atom, and recently accepted a DC exclusive.

Kalman did a couple of the covers for August books (while slowly finishing a story of mine for Devil's Due's upcoming Troma anthology).

Arvid Nelson, who entered Image around the same time I did (he with Rex Mundi, me with Hawaiian Dick), and was a member a certain "class" of Image creators that bonded (in one way or another), has a new JSA Classified arc beginning this month. Hopefully, mine will follow.

J. Bone (who remains one of my favorite people in comics) is co-creating wonderful new Spirit stories with Darwyn Cooke (who I'll also call a friend, assuming it's cool with him), and has a hardcover collection of their first several issues debuting.

Sean McKeever, who I met first through Mike Norton (the two of them first broke in together with the often overlooked The Waiting Place, also through Slave Labor), and as nice a guy as you'll ever meet, is all over the DC solicits.

Mike Hawthorne's new vertigo book, The Un-Men, debuts in August, and Mike is doing amazing work on it. Mike's another guy we featured in Love in Tights, back when he could barely pay the rent. His astonishing work ethic, strength of character, and natural talent have led him to well-deserved success. Words can't express how much I think of Mike.

Jason Aaron's brilliant Scalped continues from Vertigo. I first met Jason at my local comic shop shortly after he'd won a Marvel writing contest (ironically, a friend of mine from California was one of two other winners), and have gotten closer to him over the years, to the point we now belong to the same virtual studio. Back when I worked for Image Comics, I tried to get Jason to let Image publish what became The Other Side. Somehow, he'd already gotten the attention of Will Dennis at Vertigo (by sending in an unsolicited pitch!), and the rest is history. I just feel glad I was justified in having faith in the project (which was just nominated for an Eisner award).

I'm sure once I see the full Marvel solicitations the story will be much the same. For one thing, I know Jeremy Haun kicks off his New Excalibur run. I've collaborated with Jeremy more than with any other artist (eleven books with Jeremy, to seven and a short story with Steven Griffin), and we first met back around 2000 as he and Matt Cashel debuted their (then) self-published Paradigm (before Image picked up the book) at my local shop...

My own debut DC work will have to wait until later in the year (November, maybe?), but I'm having a lot more fun doing it that I ever really thought I would.

I guess a bit of rum and the lateness of the hour have me reflecting on the past eight or nine years, and it just underscores how much the friendships I've forged in comics mean to me, and how happy I am to see so many old pals doing so well.

3 comments:

Mr. Hawthorne said...

Clay!

Dude, thanks so much for the kind words! Much love back at you, man.

Love and Tights was a great comic, and I'm glad I got to contribute to it.

Best,
mike

Gabe_Eltaeb said...

Great Post! I love Scalped, and Mike Norton is a Nice guy!

Geoff said...

Clay, you are never too young to wax nostalgic. Hell, sometimes I say to Joel, remember that time in Chicago when we got to hang with Clay and Latour and everyone else... it was 10 fucking months ago? I have been doing that since I was 12.

Yeah I am hoping Nov brings your DC project cause I was really hoping for August.
Oh yeah just for kicks I put your Beast Boy sketch on my blog.