Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bag Open; Cat Out, Headed West.

So, One-Eyed Jack: Into the West.

Man, this has been a long time coming. So let me fill you in on a little history.

A few years ago, Adam Beranek and Mike Bencik created One-Eyed Jack, a cat with nine lives who would live in nine different time periods, having adventures with his pal Hogan. They started out the series with an adventure in ancient Egypt, which Mike has completely drawn. The plan was for Adam and his brother Christian to publish the book through Silent Devil, their publishing house. And when the plans were made up for which time periods to cover, Mike suggested the cats live the lives of Lewis and Clark, and he wanted me to write it. (Mike's known me for a long while; we worked at the same children's publisher together, and collaborated on dozens of stories.)

I don’t know how hard a sell that was to the guys, but it was an awesome favor. I owe Mike big.

I had no comics experience (other than some great classes Danny Fingeroth taught at NYU and years of reading them), but I have written a book on Lewis and Clark, so I could be counted on to be fairly historically accurate. The guys went for it, and I got to work.

Eventually, the plan changed: The book would now come out all at once as a graphic novel. I’d be writing one (at least one) of the chapters in the book. Meanwhile, I had gotten my script to Mike, and he started drawing the pants off it. We expanded it a little, to give the story room to breathe now that we weren’t constrained by standard comic page count. (Oh, and we need a bear attack? I can do that, sure.) And we figured out what my second chapter of the One-Eyed Jack saga would be.

Somewhere along the line, Christian and Adam decided to refocus Silent Devil, and now Christian is spearheading Disney’s new Kingdom Comics line. That left Mike with a bunch of pages and no publisher. And One-Eyed Jack with an uncertain future. (Up until this point, I hadn't mentioned it online, figuring the publisher should make the announcement when they were ready.)

Not wanting to face another Wizard World Philly (our hometown con) without anything to sell, Mike decided to put the Lewis & Clark book out as its own comic. In its way, it’s a sampler of the larger graphic novel, but it was always intended to stand on its own. The nature of the series is such that it really can’t help but stand on its own, so that worked in our favor.

I’m really excited by the book. I think Mike is a heck of a storyteller, and he’s got some great character designs as well. And I think I acquitted myself well for my first time out of the gate. (I’m can't be 100% certain of this yet; getting this micro-print-run ready was so down to the wire that I never got to proof the book in PDF. Saturday’s con was so busy for me that I never had a chance to read it. And leaving the con on Saturday was so hectic that I completely forgot to grab a copy of a comic that I’ve spent my entire life working toward in one way or another. Yes, I am a schmuck.)

Mike’s mailing me some copies. I know how it ends, but I honestly can’t wait to read it.

P.S. The filthy lucre segment: We’re not available through Diamond, Cold Cut or any other distributor. We’re selling these ourselves for four dollars, including shipping. At 30-some pages, it’s a lot of book for the price. Email me at grimmbeau AT optonline DOT net. (You can PayPal to that same address.)

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