been very fortunate to have talked to a few of the creative folk
who worked on a treasury-sized comic, either as writer, artist,
editor, or just a current comics pro who loves the ol' treasuries
like I do.
are the people who have graced TreasuryComics.com with their presence
(click the graphic to go the specific interview):
Arcudi - 11/25/09
Buckler - 12/1/07
Chiarello - 4/7/09
Evanier - 3/4/06
Grogan - 5/1/08
Isabella - 12/3/06
Jurgens - 5/24/09
Kieth - 12/1/08
Landgraf - 6/5/07
Larsen - 7/4/07
Morrow - 8/2/07
Nowlan - 10/31/09
Palmiotti - 8/24/09
Rozakis - 10/26/06
Chris Ryall - 12/6/11
Staton - 6/5/07
Wisnia - 1/10/07
Yeates - 11/2/07
ARCUDI has numerous comic book credits to his name
(including a run on Aquaman I'm particularly fond of), but
its his work on the "Superman" strip in Wednesday Comics
that we're talked about for our interview:
How did you get involved with Wednesday Comics?
Arcudi: Mark [Chiarello] had been telling me for years
about how he'd wanted to do newspaper broadsheet sized stories for
the DC characters, which obviously always sounded great to me, so
when it actually came to pass he knew I would be on board.
How did it come to pass that you'd write the Superman strip?
Did you come to Mark with an idea or did he give you a list of characters
to pick from?
Originally we had talked about the possibility of me doing the "Spectre,"
but then that didn't quite pan out (maybe because of Dave Bullock's
"Deadman" installment? You don't need to two un-dead characters
in one anthology, after all) but when it fell through, Mark said
that nobody had taken "Superman" yet and I jumped on it as fast
as I could.
That's surprising, no one had taken Superman yet! Did you have
a Superman story in your mind previously, or did you start from
scratch once you got the WC assignment?
Yeah, I actually found it a little hard to believe myself, but I
was happy to take the gig. Always wanted to write Superman, but
I didn't have a story ready to go. It's such a different format,
goal with this episodic approach was to make the story accessible
to as many people as possible. We hoped it would sell beyond the
hardcore fan market, so I wanted to showcase all the important elements
of Superman's life, and do it in a discrete way; each page dedicated
to a different facet. One for Metropolis, Krypton, Smallville, Lois,
his relationship to Batman, that sort of thing.
all those elements into a story organically is harder than it sounds.
I kicked it around a while, and after I had a conversation with
Mark Chiarello I decided to have Superman get introspective (which
itself was part of the story) and so it made sense to review all
these things in his life.
Did you make any changes to the story once you learned it was
going to be serialized in USA Today, making it sort of the "gateway"
strip for the series?
I was long finished with writing the story by the time they told
me about the USA Today installments.
Some of the WC strips are clearly paying tribute to classic
newspaper strips of the past (Kamandi, Iris West). Were there any
particular comic strips you loved as a reader that you were trying
to emulate in Superman?
I love a lot of the old strips, but can't say I was thinking about
any of them as I wrote. That might be a better question for Lee,
Was it a challenge, writing a story with this kind of pacing?
Its a very different animal than writing a 22+ page comic.
It was a challenge. As I said, I wanted to create these discrete
segments of narrative which kept pulling me to write more panels
per page, but then I wanted to keep the art open enough to showcase
Lee's considerable talents, which made me think I should write fewer.
Quite a balancing act.
What was your process working with Lee Bermejo? Did you break
down what you wanted to see in specific panels, or was it more general
than that ("This is what needs to happen in this installment", etc.)?
I wrote a pretty detailed script, but only to convey to Lee what
the mood and purpose of the story was. I would sometimes make very
specific suggestions for what the art should look like, and sometime
Lee followed those suggestions closely. Usually (thank God) Lee
found better ways to get the ideas across.
Lee added so much to the story, made it better than it was. I owe
him big time. And Barbara Ciardo! Holy cow! Her colors were incredible.
She made the artwork (and therefore the whole story) just sing!
The newsprint didn't quite capture what she pulled off, but when
it's collected I think everyone will see what I'm talking about.
If there was a Wednesday Comics 2, any characters you'd
love to take a shot at? (Other than maybe The Spectre?)
I don't know, after Superman, how do you follow that up?
BUCKLER needs no introduction--having drawn virtually
every character in the DC or Marvel universes, illustrated the stories
of the biggest writers in comics, and having worked for every major
comics publisher of the 70s and 80s; the guy's a legend in the business.
He was very friendly when I asked him for an interview about his
career in general and his work on the Superman vs. Shazam!
Did you pursue a big project like Superman vs Shazam or did DC call
Buckler: It was Dick Giordano's idea. When the assignment
came up, I was being "groomed" as the next Superman artist (after
Curt Swan). That didn't happen, of course, but I really enjoyed
working on that book!
How long would it take you to do a project of this size and length?
Did you have to turn down other work to be able to do it?
I never turned down work! That just wasn't done. The size I worked
with was fairly close to the standard original size (maybe 15% bigger),
and there was no crunching deadline. I just kept the work coming
into the offices at a regular pace--there was a lot of trust, and
I was always a steady worker. What appealed to me was the opportunity
to draw Captain Marvel/Shazam in Superman's universe (that is, to
draw him less cartoon-like, and more realistic).
just the treasuries alone, Superman was pitted against The Flash,
Shazam!, Wonder Woman, and Muhammad Ali! Any insight why Supes was
so pissed off in the 70s?
was the marketing people--they're the ones who went ape! They made
their deals and came up with ideas (trying to reach a wider audience,
I would guess) and then it was up to the creative people to make
this stuff into an entertaining comic book.
know that comic pages are done up and then reduced for printing.
When working on a book meant for a treasury, did you do the art
even bigger? Did you have to make any artistic adjustments for it
being printed at that bigger size?
art was printed almost the same size that it was prepared. What
made things so different was the story length--72 pages, and no
ads! That meant that the writer (Gerry Conway) and I could pull
out the stops--with plenty of BIG ideas. That translated into splashy
graphics with bigger figures, giant close-ups, lots of room for
for two-page spreads, splash pages for chapter breaks, and half-page
drew an awesome 3-part JLA story ("...When A World Dies Screaming")
that DC had originally planned for a treasury edition but ended
up running years later in the regular JLA comic (#s 210-212). Its
one of my all-time favorite JLA stories--featuring every JLAer,
plus hundreds of people, aliens, and many locations. Did DC ever
tell you why it never ran as originally intended?
I was never told why that was done. I can't even speculate about
one time or another, you've drawn pretty much every hero in the
DC and Marvel universes. Any favorite characters/books/writers to
have a long list of favorites, of course! Entry into the professional
side of comics came from my beginnings in the early days of organized
comics fandom. As a professional, my best experiences as an artist/creator
were on Superman, Batman, Black Panther, Avengers, Fantastic Four
and Spider-Man. Captain America is my favorite character. I'm a
big-time Jack Kirby fan. In my earliest, formative years as an artist
(before going professional), I learned from my first favorite artist
Curt Swan. Later favorites were Gil Kane, John Buscema, Neal Adams,
and Al Williamson.
favorite writers were science fiction authors--Alfred Bester, Phillip
K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, Harry Harrison, and Larry Niven (just to
name a few). My favorite comic book writers were either fans of
those authors too (and others like them--the list of sci-fi favorites
is extensive), or shared their sensibilities and were influenced
by that literary tradition--such luminaries as Roy Thomas, Gerry
Conway, Doug Moench, Don McGregor, Archie Goodwin (just to name
a few). I always felt that the better the writer I worked with,
the more challenging my artistic role would be, and the results
of those collaborations would seem to always support that. I was
very privileged, during my comics career, to work with a lot of
incredibly talented and skillful writers. Oh yeah, and speaking
of favorites, let's not, of course, leave out Stan Lee!
CHIARELLO I had the great opportunity to have a chat
with DC Art Director Mark Chiarello, the behind DC's upcoming Wednesday
Comics series. Not only is Mark trying to bring the oversized
comic back to comic shops, but he's a big fan of the classic treasuries,
I was thrilled to learn you had heard of TreasuryComics.com.
That made my day.
Chiarello: I stumbled across it not too long ago, and
I'm such a fan of that stuff. I grew up the Marvel Kid, so, those
treasuries they put out still hold a warm spot in my heart. One
thing I wonder, and you might be able to answer this--is it pure
nostalgia? You know how you can look back on things you had as a
kid, and you sort of can't judge them without the blush of nostalgia?
I don't think it is, but do you think its that way with the treasury
I think that's a big part of it, but...I don't know, I think for
me...I started buying comics in the mid-70s, and they were everywhere.
And just in the span of my lifetime, they've gone from being everywhere
to just these few specific places. Now that my all my friends have
kids and I have nephews and nieces, I kind of wish they had that
experience of comics being everywhere, and I've bought treasuries
for some of these kids...and they just love them. Plus, DC and Marvel
made them such events--Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, Superman Vs. Shazam,
That ties into what I've been hearing around here. I've been at
DC fifteen years, and a lot people still give me crap that I only
read Marvels as a kid, and those treasuries they did (pauses, counts
across the first row of Marvel treasuries on the Gallery page)...those
first three rows of I have. I was such a follower of Stan, that
those are the ones I love.
Some of the first Star Wars I ever bought were the treasury-sized
adaptations of the movie, and they were just so cool, so special,
so impressive. Which is why, not to try and tie these two things
too closely, when I first heard about this Wednesday Comics
idea, I went "Oh God! This is exactly what I'd want to see!" I get
a lot of email from people who didn't know the site existed, and
as much as they love seeing all the books they had/have, they also
tell me they buy these books all over again for their kids, so they
can have the same experience. I bought that first Spider-Man treasury
for the kid of some friends of ours, and the next time I saw him
the book was really beat up. I thought that was great, because that
meant he was looking at it all the time and enjoying it.
My son does the same thing, and I'm like "No, dude, that was
mine when I was a kid...be careful!"
[laughs] One of the things I'm curious about with Wednesday
Comics is--as soon as the news broke of this, I went checked
various message boards, and it seemed like 9 out of every 10 fans
was really behind this idea, really positive, but there was always
one who was like "I can't keep it in mint, I can't stick it in a
bag, I don't want it, blah blah blah..." and I was like...wanted
to pound my head on the desk. Comics fans, especially over the last
10-15 years, have really been conditioned to obsess over having
the most permanent, beautiful, costly version of whatever book it
is they like, and Wednesday Comics is completely bucking
that trend. Its saying no, no, this is meant to be read, to be folded
over, its probably going to get beat up a little bit by the sheer
handling of it...how do you feel about that?
I certainly consider myself to be part of that group, being a comics
fan, but the ultimate goal for a comic book company, and people
who create comics, is to create a reading experience. We certainly
saw the Image boom of the late 80s, when it started becoming less
about the reading experience, and started being more about the investment
experience, and I found that very sad, and I'm glad we got away
from that. Because for me, I want to read an enticing story, that's
everything that comics are about. I am glad that, as you say, 9
out of 10 people who posted about Wednesday Comics were enthusiastic
and did think it was a good idea, because I it seems they've hooked
into what it was going to be as a reading experience, to see these
really large pages, with 15-20 panels on a page.
Yeah, I've been seeing some of the rough pages some of the artists
involved are working on, and they're a sight to behold. And I was
happy too, to see so many people seemed supportive of it. Maybe
Wednesday Comics won't be the greatest thing ever, but DC's
trying something different, and you have to give them credit for
that, and you have to support it if you love comics as a medium.
But at least you'll buy the first 2 or 3 issues, and then maybe
say "Eh, these stories just aren't doing it for me", although I
don't know the odds of that happening, with the line-up you've got
There's gotta be something in there somebody likes! [laughs]
Do you guys have a price-point yet, and a date when they start coming
The first issue will be out the first week of July, which is neat
because it'll be out in time for the San Diego Con. The price point
is...we're 99% locked in to the price point. I wanted it to be the
price of a regular comic book, I didn't think people should have
to spend a lot of money for this. Because again its not about the
buying experience, its about the reading experience, and I realize
that if its $10 [an issue] nobody's going to buy it. So...because
its not locked in I can't give you an exact price, but it'll relatively
be the price of a regular--quote unquote--comic book.
Are there any characters personally that you would have liked
to have seen be in Wednesday Comics? You've said in other
interviews that you went to the creators and said "Who do you want
to do?", so were there any you hoped to see in there that aren't?
That's a really good question. We're certainly covering the big
guns at DC: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash...I was so happy
when Neil Gaiman wanted to do Metamorpho, because that's a character
that fans really like but doesn't get a lot of ink.
I invited Kyle Baker to work on Wednesday Comics, his response
totally surprised me. I really wanted him to do an over-the-top
zany, humorous, story about all the villains in Arkham Asylum. The
Joker, The Riddler, etc...all the guys kinda running around while
they're in prison. I thought the idea of Kyle doing that was really,
really funny, and I love Kyle's humor work, but I didn't pitch that
to him, I let him decide what he wanted to do, and he came up with
Hawkman. And I said, "Are you sure that's what you really want
to do?", and he said "Yeah! I want to do kind of a Prince
Valiant-kind of take on the character", and I thought he was
out of mind, I really did.
Then the pages started coming in, and I realized he knew exactly
what he wanted to do. He really killed it.
Oh yeah, I've seen a few of them, they're beautiful. And, since
Aquaman is my all-time favorite character, I'm happy to see that
he does show up in Baker's Hawkman story. I saw a piece of art with
him and Hawkman fighting a dinosaur or something and I was like
"Whew! At least Aquaman's in this somewhere!"
Yeah, Kyle let that out of the bag a little prematurely, but Aquaman
does make a guest appearance.
I was very glad to see that [laughs].
Yeah--just an aside, Aquaman is a character I wish a writer, who
really loves the character, would come to us and says "I really
want to do this", because I think he's a lot people don't quite
Oh yeah. Well--you've probably already heard this quote, but
if not maybe let me play matchmaker here--there's a quote Brian
Azzarello gave, to CBR I think, where he said he has an idea for
Aquaman story, because he loves the character, but he doesn't want
to have to tie it in to continuity, he just wants to do regular
Aquaman, and he said he'd do it in that context, but if he can't
do it that way then he doesn't really want to do it at all. So when
I heard that quote, and then I heard about Wednesday Comics,
I thought, "Oh, please...let there be Wednesday Comics II
or something next summer. You can go to him and say "Hey,
Brian, I heard you have this Aquaman story..."
[laughs] I would totally do that!
A Brian Azzarello Aquaman comic? I'll buy 10, 15 copies of that...
That would be so cool.
You said before that you asked the creators who they wanted to
work on. I'm guessing you don't have to work really hard to get
somebody to say "I wanna do Superman, or Batman..."
But I would guess, at the same time, they have to be in a project
like this, something that's unusual, maybe a tough sell, it has
to have the big guns in it.
I think...the answer is yes, they have to be in there, but not because
of sales. They have to be in there not from a business standpoint,
but purely from a "These are great characters" standpoint. John
Arcudi wrote the Superman story that Lee Bermejo is drawing, and
he wrote the greatest Superman story I've read in years--I mean,
its just a fabulous story, and that's the character he wanted to
write. A creator's desire to play with certain toys, there are certain
characters I always wanted to draw, that I think, because of my
desire to do that, I would do a good job. And the same holds true
for the guys who are doing Wednesday Comics. They're like
"I want to do this."
The artists on Wednesday Comics...are they thrilled to
be working at this size? Most of them have probably never had the
chance to do this. Joe Kubert, sure, but not most of them.
Yeah, [laughs], its a little daunting to some for the guys, because
the publication size is 14x20", and some artists are working even
bigger than that. Mike Allred sent me a photograph of his drawing
table, and he's got the Metamorpho first page original art taped
to the drawing table, and the piece of paper is twice as big as
his drawing table.
That's really neat. I was happy that when I pitched it, especially
the artists, they really got it, and went "Wow, my artwork will
be reproduced that big? That's really cool." They got what I
was hoping they'd get. Some guys...I mean, Paul Pope's originals
are wall-sized, so its kind of easy for him, but some of the more
traditional artists, on the first page or two, are presented with
a real challenge.
Is...I guess anything is possible if sales go through the roof,
but could Wednesday Comics continue, or is thought of more
as the next in a line of weekly series? You had 52, then
Countdown, then Trinity, now this...or could there
be more? You say to yourselves, "We could do this next Summer?"
Nothing would make me feel better than if Wednesday Comics
is a big success, and we could do a second series. Once we announced
the project online, I got calls and emails from a million freelancers
who said "Man, if you ever do a second series, I'd love to be
part of it", that kind of thing.
So yeah, that'd be really fun.
I'm wondering, will DC be doing any sort of display, like a display
box you could have by the counter, for this? Because that's how
DC did the original treasuries...they had this cool display box
for them, and my life will not be considered complete until I find
one of those [laughs]. They were shipped to department stores, so
I know somebody's got one in an attic somewhere...
[laughs] Man, good luck, because I've been here fifteen years and
there's none here! If I ever come across one I'll send it to you.
[big laughs] I figured there weren't any there. I did an interview
with Bob Rozakis a few years ago, and he told me DC shipped the
books in those boxes, so I know they made it out there. Someday...
By the way, I was looking at TreasuryComics.com, and looking at
all the covers, and I didn't know Richard Corben did a treasury-sized
edition of Rolf.
Yeah, 10x13 or something.
Man, I have to have that! I have to go on ebay and find a copy,
I'm such a Corben fan. I didn't know they printed it at a big size.
Yeah, I go on ebay, and sometimes I'm lucky and find these odd
little one-shots that were printed at this big size.
Yeah, Joe Kubert was in my office the other day, turning in his
installment--you know, he's doing Sgt. Rock for us--
Yeah, I can't wait. And he kinda went, "You know, I invented
this" and I went "What do you mean?" and he said,
"Well, I did Sojourn", and I went "Dude, that is not as big
as what I'm doing, so, get over yourself!"
[big laughs] Did he hit you with those giant hands he has?
Actually, he did.
So, will there be any type of display material for this, as a
separate thing, or for right now...
Probably not, because it does fold down, and it'll be shipped along
with the other comics. If we were selling them flat, we would certainly
do that. We're actually looking into the idea--although its unlikely--that
we'll ship them both ways, folded and flat.
One last thing I wanted to ask you, and this back to talking
about your love of the original treasuries---when you were a kid,
was there a character that you really wished they had done a treasury
book for, but they never did? I mean, Marvel covered most of their
stars--Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Hulk, Dr. Strange, etc.
always hoped DC would do an Aquaman treasury book, but they never
did. I mean, I understand that, he can barely sell a regular-sized
comic, let alone a giant one. But was there one you would've really
like to have seen?
Hmm...I never thought about it, but I was such a big Gene Colan
Daredevil fan, thinking about it now--man, that would have been
cool, having his artwork at that size. Spider-Man always was my
favorite character, so the fact that they covered some of the big
Spider-Man stuff, The Jack Kirby Fantastic Four stuff...I loved
the Holiday Grab Bag Special kind of things, even the big
Howard the Duck one.
one I really treasured was the first Conan the Barbarian one--it
was like the fourth or fifth one Marvel did--seeing Barry Smith's
artwork at that size, seeing it printed that large--I still take
that out every now and then and look at it.
other one that really killed me was the Captain America's Bicentennial
The Jack Kirby one.
Yeah! Having Barry [Smith], John Romita, and Herb Trimpe ink the
book--it was just, God, it was incredible.
That's one of those combinations you think would never work--Barry
Smith inking Jack Kirby?--but it worked pretty well!
Those pages, they're astounding, they're so gorgeous.
Well, Mark, I thank you for your time, and I really want to say
thanks to you and DC for doing Wednesday Comics. I hope its
a really huge success, and I am looking so forward to reading the
know, I talking with friends of mine, friends who run the comic
store I shop at, and we talked about maybe I'd come in a day a week
or something to help out at the store. And they joked I'd need to
help push some books, and I said, "Hey, I will be the biggest shill
for Wednesday Comics imaginable. People will be sick of hearing
me talk about it so much. I'll berate people at the counter--why
are you buying this? Do you need another Wolverine comic? No, you
don't. Here, buy Wednesday Comics, its got Batman, Kamandi,
Sgt. Rock, Metamorpho..."
[laughs] I don't mind! We'll have you go on a fifty-state tour,
selling the book.
[big laughs] Yeah! Anyway, thanks again, Mark, and good luck
with Wednesday Comics.
Very cool, thanks Rob, this was a lot of fun. My pleasure.
wait to get my hands on the first issue of Wednesday Comics...the
first week in July can't get here soon enough! I thank Mark for
his time, all his great work, and his effort at making comics big
again. Thanks Mark!
EVANIER The three issues of The
Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera were a rarity for Marvel
treasury comics in that they contained all-new material. Marvel
was, at the time, publishing a regular Hanna-Barbera comic, but
they specifically published these longer stories in the treasury
format. The writer for all three of these books, Mark Evanier,
was kind enough to anwer a few questions about the hows and whys
of these book's creation.
you go after the job of writing these books or did Marvel or did
someone else come to you?
Evanier:In 1975 (I think), Hanna-Barbera opened a division
to produce material for comic books. They had previously had an
arrangement with Charlton Comics and had been very unhappy with
the books that Charlton produced.
first, H-B was going to start their own company but then they were
enticed into a different arrangement: The contents of the books
were produced out of an office at the H-B Studio and then Marvel
published them. A gentleman named Chase Craig was hired as editor.
Chase had been the editor-in-chief at the Los Angeles office of
Western Publishing and had supervised all the Disney, WB and Hanna-Barbera
comics for Dell and Gold Key, then had retired. H-B got him to come
out of retirement to head up their comic book department and he
hired me. (I'd worked for him at Gold Key.)
you happen to know why Marvel had this brief flirtation with doing
comics of the HB characters?
think it was a matter of Marvel not wanting to see a new company
start up, so they gave H-B a very nice deal to do the comics through
you know/remember why these longer stories were commissioned, and
why they were set aside to be done as treasury comics, instead of
regular issues of the book? Or was this material done for another
company then bought and published by Marvel?
the material in the treasury editions was created especially for
those treasury editions. Marvel called up and said they wanted to
do them and Chase Craig called me in and said, "I need you to write
the way: Chase got bored with the job and decided he'd rather go
back into retirement. So at one point, he handed some of the editorial
job...and then all of it over to me. In the case of the treasury
editions, he was the editor of the first two. I edited the third
one published and one other that never made it to print. (It was
another FLINTSTONES Christmas book.)
you ever remember hearing how they sold? Was Marvel trying to tap
back into the very young readers market?
don't know precisely what market they were intended for...the kids
who loved those characters, I guess. At the time, Marvel was selling
SPIDER-MAN and HULK to a pretty young readers market.
for how they sold, I heard different things. Some people at Marvel
told me they sold poorly, some told me they sold quite well but
Marvel wasn't interested in continuing the license under those terms.
The folks at Hanna-Barbera told me they sold quite well and even
showed me some royalty statements from Marvel that looked pretty
good...but Marvel did terminate the arrangement. So I really don't
know for sure.
as a longtime comics writer/reader/expert, do you think the big
comic companies should try these different formats again, to lure
new readers? Would you like to see books like these made again?
liked the treasury format, though I wish the artists could have
drawn their pages bigger, put more in and have been paid accordingly.
Treasury books were drawn at pretty much the same size as normal
comics and I always felt that was a mistake. I'm not sure the format
is that commercial, though. I don't know where on a newsstand or
comic book shop you display a lot of books in that size.
one last thing--I see that Dan Spiegle drew parts of these books.
Is there anything he CAN'T draw?
has always been amazing, not just for the quality of his work but
for his reliability. He always comes through and always on time.
He has made my life in comics very happy.
other things you might like to know about these books...
of tight schedules, they all had to be produced quickly. I had two
days to write the FLINTSTONES CHRISTMAS PARTY book, and I remember
that it was over 100 degrees in Los Angeles on both days, so it
was tough to get into the mood.
book was one of the first professional assignments for Scott Shaw,
and he did a very fine job with it. (By the way, the credits on
that one are incomplete. The JETSONS chapter was pencilled by Tony
Strobl and inked by Joe Prince.)
the Marvel deal ended, H-B made a deal with a company called Modern
Promotions to continue the comic line, mostly in treasury format.
I was just finishing assembling the first book when the head of
Modern Promotions died and the whole thing fell apart. Thereafter,
and for the next few years, I edited a lot of Hanna-Barbera comics
that were only published overseas. It was a very enjoyable experience.
GROGAN Like I said when I added Look Out!! Monsters
to the site last week, meeting Geoff and discovering his book was
one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2008 NY Comic Con. Geoff
was nice enough to talk to TreasuryComics.com about creating Look
It's a safe bet you read lots of comics and watched lots of horror
movies growing up. What were some of your favorites of each?
Grogan: I read tons of comics as a kid--from Gold Key
to Disney Digests to Archie, DC and Marvel.
loved Newspaper strips, and during my teen years (the Seventies)
collections of Prince Valiant and Flash Gordon became
available--among others. During those formative teen years my favorites
were anything that Jack Kirby worked on, Jim Starlin's Captain
Marvel and Warlock runs, any Neal Adams stuff that came
out and then the B&W magazines--Marvel's line of Conan-related titles
and the Warren books of course-including The Spirit reprints
in the mid-Seventies.
for horror movies--in my area of upstate NY there was a wonderful
Saturday afternoon show out of a Syracuse TV station--Monster
Movie Matinee featuring two scary hosts, Dr. E. Nick Witty (only
his ring-adorned hand, featuring the longest black fingernails you've
ever seen--appeared on camera) and his deformed henchman, Epal.
They showed all of the greats--that's where I first saw Frankenstein
and all the Universal classics,as well as Hammer films and the like.
Did you have some the classic 70s treasuries growing up?
Absolutely! I had a fondness for the reprints of Joe Kubert's Tarzan,
Chester Gould's Dick Tracy, and the Kirby-Lee Fantastic
Four and Thor treasuries. I loved those big books--comics
seem so grand at that scale--and of course if you see the original
art from those years--it was all at that larger scale. I think artists
lost so much flexibility in the move to 11" x 17"---Kirby in particular
seemed to strain at the confines of tha smaller scale. On a related
note, my favorite comics purchase from this past NY ComicCon was
Walter Mosley's Maximum FF. I just love that book--every
image becomes so powerful, so iconic at that larger scale--and the
color just pops! Now that's how comics should be done!
How did you come up with the idea for Look Out!! Monsters?
Well--Look Out!! Monsters began in the summer of 2001 and
grew out of a series of paintings and collages I had done around
Horror movie themes. It was a natural outgrowth of my work in comics(I
self-published a title called Dr. Speck in the late '90's)
and my paintings. Very quickly the project was caught up in the
events of that fall.
Why do the book at the tabloid/treasury size, and what was the creative
process for the book? Did you start off wanting to do a Frankenstein
story and then you added current world events, or was it the other
I painted it on top of a copy of the NY Daily News--it was meant
to engulf the reader in the newspaper--the smell of the ink, the
feel of the newsprint- the manic world of the tabloid press, its
heroes and villains, its over-simplifications, its black and white
view of the world. And newspapers are where American comic strips
took hold and grew up. So--when I went to print-it seemed a natural
to keep it at that scale.
grew out of a series of paintings and collages I was doing. I was
making a series of collages with the newspaper( I've always loved
making my own supports--usually out of paper, and usually scrap
paper) and with Frankenstein-like imagery. Very quickly I began
to move to collages of super-hero images and the NY Times.
And as I recall, I was looking at the NY Daily News--which
is a tabloid newspaper--and I thought it would be only natural to
use its book-like form as a base for collages in story-form--as
a one-of a-kind artist's book. And it was an opportunity to expand
upon what I was doing with Frankenstein imagery in the collages.
The "story" grew up around what was happening at the time (Fall
2001)--and then what happened after( 2001-2007).
What has been people's reaction to the book?
Very positive as far as I can tell--At the NY Comic Con in April
anyone with an interest in "something a little different"--stopped
at the table, and 90% of those people who picked it up went on to
buy it! And it did win a Xeric grant for self-publishing last Fall--so
I'm feeling optimistic about its chances out in the shops.
Any plans to do more books like this? Any more monsters and/or events
you want to tackle?
Yes--I have a number of different ideas for books in this vein.
And I can't wait to get to them!!!--but at the moment I'm held back
a bit by the much more "traditional" graphic novel I've been working
Work--go read it!!!
ISABELLA has done a lot of different things in his career,
from comic book writer to editor to novelist to columnist. He was
kind of enough to answer some questions about treasury comics, and
some other stuff...
your time at Marvel, they (and everyone else) were trying all different
formats to increase sales, like the black and white magazines you
did so much work on, the treasuries, and the digests. Did you find
all these new venues for material exciting to be a part of, or wasn't
there a big difference to you?
Isabella :The stories themselves were pretty much the
same no matter what the formats, but I loved the idea of the different
formats. When I learned of the death of comics fandom legend Jerry
Bails a few days ago, I remembered the first time I met him. It
was at a Detroit Triple Fan Fair and he had a dealer's table. From
him, I bought an issue of Fantastic, a weekly comic from
England, and also a 1940s issue of Gift Comics.
predated The Mighty World of Marvel weekly that I edited at Marvel.
It reprinted early stories of Fantastic Four and other heroes, though
I can't recall if an issue would reprint an entire story or divide
it into chapters as we did in MWOM.
Comics was 300-plus pages of coverless copies of Whiz Comics,
Captain Marvel, and other Fawcett titles bound together behind
a festive holiday-theme cover. It originally sold for fifty cents
at a time when the standard comic was still a dime.
and I talked about these formats for a spell. He encouraged my fascination
with and interest in them. I thought the weekly had a possibilities
for American publishers and was even more ebullient about that big
fat issue of Gift Comics. Ironically, I would end up working
on British weeklies a year later and, in recent years, see most
of my 1970s Marvel stories reprinted in Marvel Essential
volumes even thicker than that issue of Gift Comics.
I guess the short answer - NOW he gets around to it! - is that I
did find the different formats exciting then and I still find new
formats exciting today.
seemed to put a little more thought into their treasuries, i.e.
collecting several issues from a book to form a complete story,
like the trades do today. Were people in the office ever asked what
they'd like to see or was it entirely based on what was most likely
we never published any treasury we didn't think would sell. As far
as what decided what went into the books, there was no one reason.
In the case of something like The Wizard of Oz adaptation
and follow-up Oz adaptations, it was felt the treasury format for
those stories would appeal to both comics and non-comics readers.
We did some treasury books which were not much different (except
for the format) than our other reprint anthologies/annuals, and
others that went for a theme. My personal preference was for the
anthologies with a theme. And, in defense of DC, I think that the
vastly-underrated E. Nelson Bridwell put together some mighty fine
treasury-size anthologies for the company.
a writer, if you found out the story you were writing was going
to be given the treasury treatment, would you write it differently
in any way? Would the different format have any affect on what you
might want to try and write?
answer to all those questions is...yes. It would have made sense
to take advantage of the format, though not in such an extreme way
as to prohibit its use in other forms. However, since my treasury
appearances - I think there were two; one at Marvel and one at DC
- were all stories written for other formats, I never got the chance
to tailor material for the treasury format.
treasury credit I found for you was the new wraparound material
in The Savage
Fists of Kung Fu treasury edition, with a story called "The
Master Plan of Fu Manchu." Did you ask to do this, or was it a case
of being in the office at the right time?
story originally appeared in a black-and-white issue of The Deadly
Hands of Kung Fu magazine. I was the editor of that issue, so
I worked with the writers on the overall story and wrote the wraparound
material to tie everything together.
you find it more interesting/liberating to write some of the lesser
iconic characters, like Hawkman or Ghost Rider? Did you feel you
could do more with them than you could with Batman or Spider-Man?
Dick Giordano and editor Alan Gold gave me a very free hand with
Hawkman, as did Roy Thomas, Len Wein, and Marv Wolfman with Ghost
Rider. I don't do well with hands-on editors; I do my best work
with editors who are more interested in reading my stories than
having me tell theirs.
you like to see Marvel, DC, or anyone else try the treasuries (or
any other format) again?
did it recently in the form of those sensational books by Paul Dini
and Alex Ross. I'd be all for it on those occasions when the material
(both story and art) would be well-served by it. I wouldn't be as
finally: "Tony Isabella/Alex Ross: Black Lightning: The
Power of Electricity." Thoughts?
a time when I really would have preferred no one write Black Lightning
other than me, I went on record as saying I would love to see Dini
and Ross do a Black Lightning book. Working with Alex on such a
book, writing it, would be a dream come through for me. Alas, though
I remain willing, barring a change in management or heart, it's
doubtful DC will allow me to write Black Lightning again as long
as they own it.
JURGENS is a writer/artist, who was kind enough to do
an interview with me for The
Aquaman Shrine back in February 2009, and then graciously
agreed to talk with me a second time about his work on Superman/Fantastic
At what point of the book's development did you come aboard?
I assume the team-up of Superman and the Fantastic Four was already
set...were there any more elements to it than that?
Jurgens:A Superman/FF crossover was something Mike Carlin
and I had talked about for a couple of years before it became an
actual reality. When we first talked about the basic idea of the
plot, with Superman becoming Galactus' herald, there wasn't even
an agreement between DC and Marvel.
that Agreement fell into place and we were off and running!
Was you writing it a given, because you were writing Superman
at the time?
Jurgens: As I said, it was something of a dream project
for us that Mike Carlin and I talked about before the reality of
the project existed. When Marvel and DC agreed we had a general
idea for a story in place. That sort of explains how I ended up
on the book. It should also be noted that I would have likely killed
anyone who jumped in front of me!
terms of the creative aspect of the story, it was born out of general
discussions Mike and I had about comic concepts over the years.
What makes Superman work? What makes him tick? Why is the FF such
a great concept?
You also did the layouts for the book. Were you cognizant of
working in big, pin-up sized moments that would take advantage of
the bigger space?
Jurgens: Very much so. The page size format is a bit
more squared off and less rectangular than a normal sized comic
book. But I also wanted some big visuals on the page, which is part
of the fun of a Treasury Edition.
There's a section of the book where you have Superman (under
the thrall of Galactus) fighting the Fantastic Four. As the writer,
did you feel that was sort of something you just had to (in a good
way!) work in, considering the previous DC/Marvel collaborations
featured Superman vs. Spider-Man, Batman vs. the Hulk?
Jurgens: Yeah, that's generally true. Part of the fun
really is having them square off, even for a very short time. There's
a simple magic to the pairing just as there is with Superman and
Do you recall the reasoning of doing the book at treasury size?
Was it proposed to be in that format from the outset?
Jurgens: As the project moved from the "Wouldn't
be nice if..." stage to "DC and Marvel have an
Agreement. It's a reality!" stage, I always asked for it
to be Treasury size. Mike was with me on that 100% For us, it all
went back to the special aura created by the Superman/Spidey and
Batman/Hulk editions. Marvel/DC crossovers and Treasury format were
like peanut butter and jelly in terms of great couplings.
Did you read/own any of the DC/Marvel treasury books as a kid?
Did working on such a book yourself hold any sort of special significance
Jurgens: Sure I did. I still remember seeing the ads
for the first Superman/Spider-Man book and thinking, "Whoa!
They're really going to do this?" I also remember buying
it and thinking it was simply the greatest thing ever.
fact, when Alex Ross did the painting for Wizard that recaptured
Ross Andru's great cover with Spidey and Superman on the Empire
State Building, I had to have it. It hangs adjacent to my studio
right now as testament to a great moment in comics.
How did you feel about the book once it completed and out there?
Re-reading it again it felt to me like a perfect story for the format--big
villains, big settings, a lot of fun.
Jurgens: I liked the way it came out. With that size
there is a particular emphasis to the art that any artist appreciates.
I thought it was a fun story to boot.
Ok--DC and Marvel has to come to you to write and draw another
cross-company team-up book. It would star Booster Gold and...?
Jurgens: Hmm...probably Spider-Man. I think their attitudes
would make for a fun team-up. If not him, maybe something that would
be almost counter intuitive like the Wolverine. It'd be possible
to craft a time travel story of sorts with Logan.
KARASIK was a writer, artist, and editor for the alt-comic
magazine Bad News. I came across the tabloid-sized issue
of BN on ebay, and after I got an email from the seller, I realized
it was from the editor himself! I've been wanting to cover the world
of the undergrounds for a while, and I thought this was a great
way to get a little background. Thankfully, Paul was kind enough
to agree to answer a few questions:
you remember why Bad News was started? Did it have any specific
editorial POV that was different from Raw?
first issue of Bad News was the result of a class project
given by Art Spiegelman to the comics class which I attended at
the School of Visual Arts in NYC. He had the very good idea that
students should work for publication and that going through the
ordeal of creating a comic book would make us better cartoonists...or,
more likely, make us give up this impossible business to get a real
Newgarden and I put out the 2nd issue slightly independently of
SVA. The 3rd issue came about when Mark and I took over teaching
Spiegelman's class and continued his idea that students should see
their work in print.
caliber of the work in Bad News was cruder than the work
in RAW by and large because it was student work. In fact
some of the work that was slated to go into Bad News #3 ended
up in RAW because it was too good for Bad News.
working with so many different artists, was it difficult putting
any given issue together?
are a pain in the neck to do. Mark and I had been trained at the
RAW school of editing. Art and his co-editor, Francoise Mouly,
were very, very particular and demanding editors. So, since we had
worked with them, we were demanding editors, as well. This meant
putting personal relationships at risk in pursuit of getting the
best work of any given artist.
you have any content in mind you wanted from people like Gary Panter,
Drew Friedman, Peter Bagge or did they simply submit material they
wanted to do?
guys all gave us different pages that they thought might work and
we kind of picked through them and in some cases asked them to refine
or create specific works.
is Bad News #2 tabloid/treasury size??
loved that RAW size and basically wanted to put out something
that was that big and bold. At the same time we did not have the
same ambitions that RAW held. We did not think that we were
changing the comics world with our little rag. So we made that issue
big and bold, but also printed it on crappy newsprint for a low
tabloid issue has the best overall energy as a result.
the way, I love the fact that there is this web site devoted soley
to Tabloid sized comic books. Thanks you Al Gore, for making the
air cleaner and inventing the internet.
News #2 had advertising for NYC businesses and events...did
Bad News ever make it outside of the greater New York area or were
you able to get it distributed all over?
think that we might have sent a few hundred out into the world,
maybe it was to Last Gasp, but pretty much it was a New York thing.
The last issue was published by Fantagraphics and thus had a wider
have work of your own in the issues I've been able to find (#s 2
and 3) and for each piece--"Action Comics", "Sitting Bull's Last
Stand" and "Eli Whitney"--your art styles are vastly different (even
using collage for Sitting Bull). Did you work in all sorts of different
styles like that regularly? Did the story dictate how you illustrated
the way I work. For me "Form Follows Content". I conform my so-called
style to whatever the story demands.
you read comics growing up? How did you end up working in the "undergrounds"?
have a fairly extensive collection of 60's-70's DC and Marvel comics
from when I was a kid. In fact I probably have all of those DC treasury
editions that you are so nuts about. But my taste grew as I grew.
My mom gave me an R. Crumb comic when I was about 13 and it changed
my life. I also collected every comic strip and gag reprint book
I could get my hands on. Even though my collection was fairly sizable,
I never considered a life in comics until I took that class at SVA
with Spiegelman. Another pivotal moment.
are you doing now?
new book will be out from Fantagraphics in June. It is a collection
of comic book stories by the obscure golden age genius, Fletcher
Hanks, with a 16 page biography of sorts by myself. You can read
all about it here.
KIETH is the writer/artist of several famous comics series,
like The Maxx and Zero Girl, in addition to doing
work for DC Comics on series like Sandman and Batman:Secrets
and Wolverine: Blood Hungry for Marvel. Like so many comics
pros who grew up in the 70s, Sam has a real soft-spot for the treasury-sized
comics did you read growing up?
Keith: Not many at first. I¹d stalk the racks at supermarkets,
but gave up at first because I could never get the next issue of
any comic, to find out what happened in stories. I remember trying
Spider-Man, the Hulk, Black Panther. DC just seemed so...rigid.
Superman was too perfect, I might have dug Batman if I gave him
a try. I guess most kids are fickle.
Do you remember encountering the treasury-sized comics for the
The Rampaging Hulk one was what got me back into it. I was
so frustrated because I was the "5" on the cover and stupidly
thought there was a whole series of oversized Hulk books! It took
years to figure that out, but I found friends who had the Spidey
one, and a grab bag holiday one with Daredevil fighting Namor. I
remember wondering who this "Wally Wood" guy was mentioned
as the artist. I could never keep the names straight at first. I
also picked up DC's bible stories, less because of theology and
more because I flipped through it and loved the art.
Which ones were your favorites?
I still have that old Hulk, and Doctor Strange, with the
Frank Brunner cover. I remembered thinking how much more sophisticated
Bruner's work was, because it was "realistic" and Ditko's
was "cartoony." Funny how as I grew older I discovered
those little paper back books of Ditko's stuff and became addicted
a few years there I was only reading very large comics or very tiny
ones. I used to leave hem around the house, my grandpa would flip
through them when he though no one was looking, not regular sizes,
just the big ones. He'd quickly throw them down if my granny walked
in, or she'd make a joke if she caught him. I remembered wondering
if in his view they made him feel like a kid, because of the large
Did you have any favorite characters that you always hoped to
see get their own treasury book? (My favorite character is Aquaman,
and I always hoped DC would do an Aquaman treasury book, but...oh
Not until later, as they really were what hooked me on comics to
begin with. Later, during my Jim Stalin years I often wished they'd
do a Warlock one, or Black Panther. I think Black Panther may have
been in the Avengers. I remember thinking the Vision was so much
like Mr. Spock, and those two guys were about the coolest guys in
the world. You know what¹s we forget it, these artists drew the
pages close to that size, so to them it's not oversized at all,
it was that size, and they were always adding detail to compensate
for the degeneration printing/coloring caused.
was exciting as a pro to see it because you realize this is a rare
glimpse at what the pages actually looked like when drawn. This
is something you don¹t think about unless you saw original art at
a con, or become a pro and see larger pages. It never dawned on
me comics were drawn 11 x 15, or "twice up" when I was
Looking back over the books now as a professional artist, are there
some artists you think worked better/took better advantage of the
Kirby's stuff really seemed much more potent when read larger. His
FF stories in the treasury in particular. Those same stores never
seemed the same when I read the them in typical comics. I also loved
Bill Everett and John Severin's inking over Marie [Severin]. Marie
Severin's Hulk was probably my favorite version, and she was the
first woman I had heard of who drew comics in the 70's.
years I was bugging Marvel to let John Severn to ink a hulk story
I might pencil, but it never happened. I met him at a con, very
humble fellow. I was totally ignorant he'd done all the funny stuff
too. I wish I'd met Marie. These were all classic illustrators to
me growing up, compared to the cheesy guys nowadays, (and I include
myself in the cheesy camp). Also obviously John Buscema. For some
people it was Neal Adams, but Buscema also brought in a realism
into Mavel's comics, after Kirby left. They all had "big"
styles that that format exploited nicely.
In the last few years, some writer/artists did their own treasury-sized
edition of their characters (like Danger Girl, Brass,
Hard-Boiled), did you ever consider doing something like
that for one of your projects, like Maxx or Zero Girl?
I cringe at the though of some of my art in a large format. Maxx
was a mixed bag, very undisciplined stuff, Zero Girl was
more consistent, but since I am "weird" by nature, I dunno.
I did an Oni book called My Inner Bimbo, which averaged 20-25
panels a page, and way too much small type (my fault for over-writing
it) I sometimes think that could be treasury size, more to
just have mercy on the poor reader's eye strain. : )
What are you working on now?
buried in DC work, just finished a Batman series Bruce Jones wrote
for me. I learned a lot from him, I think I needed the disciplined
story telling, after straying off track on Batman/Lobo. It
was a childhood dream to work with him, having seen him from the
Wrightson days and doing Creepy and Eerie stuff, then
awe struck when he was editing/writing Pacific Comics, which was
when I was trying to break in. I also draw my weird little creator
owned stuff at Oni like Ojo and My Inner Bimbo.
LANDGRAF was the writer/artist/creator/publisher of Landgraphics
Publications' Rock Comics and Star Fighters, as well
as a penciller for the all-new Hercules Vs. Wolverine story in Marvel
Treasury #9. Ken kindly agreed to an interview about his efforts
to start a new line of treasury-sized comics and his work at Marvel:
did you first land work at Marvel?
Landgraf:After getting out of the service (Vietnam),
I left home in Wisconsin and came to New York City, where I attended
the School of Visual Arts for a year while also studying with Eisner
and Kurtzman. During this time I got work as an assistant for Howard
Nostrand, Gil Kane and Rich Buckler. I began making sample pages
that I took up to DC comics and after several tries they gave me
Hawkman and Night Wing and Flame Bird to draw. After working for
DC I went up to Marvel Comics and I was lucky to be assigned the
Wolverine vs Hercules story written by Mary Jo Duffy and early female
writer--so that was really cool.
on before I got work at DC comics I saw Stan Lee on the street leaving
Marvel's building for lunch. I approached him and told him I just
got out of the service and wanted to draw comic books. He told me
to go up and tell the secretary that he said I could go up and see
John Romita. John gave me some pointers as did Dave Cockrum and
Marie Severin. Marie was especaily kind to me and gave me some zeroxes
of John Buscema's and Gil Kane's Pencils to study. I was also friends
with Dave Miley who with Bill Brandt owned Village Comics on Mcdougal
street in Greenwich Village and they had tons of original artwork
for sale and let me zerox a lot of it. Being able to study all this
original artwork sped up my ability to become a pro artist .
you know at the time what the Wolverine/Hercules story was intended
for, or was it done specifically for the treasury book?
wasn't told that it would appear in the larger treasury size. It
originally appeared in black and white in a British Marvel Comic
book. The story would be the first George Perez ink job. Jim Shooter
had given me the assignment.
gave you the ambitious idea to start your own line of comics?
had always been publishing my own fanzines out of Sheboygan Wisconsin
as a young kid. Steve Ditko even drew the cover to one called Crimestopper
Monthly. They were printed on a Ditto machine. Since the 1970's
I had been running a studio in NYC with Dave Simons and Armando
Gil who shared working space with me on 21st Street. Dave was a
very talented artist much like Wally Wood in that not only was he
a powerful inker but he could also letter and was a good writer.
Armando Gil had superior Illustrative drawing abillities and was
a master inker. I ran the studio and penciled most of the jobs that
I would bring into the studio.
could be anything and everything from religious books, to adult
comics, historical art and children books. I also had accounts with
Eerie Publications so I did a lot of art for Jaws of Death
and Jaws of Blood which were shark horror magazines. I also
did work for the UFO books. Anyway, since I was surrounded by these
two talented artists I was determined to do my own books that I
had total control over. Besides being responsible for paying the
rent on the studio and making sure the guys were always fed, I did
advertising art and menu lettering in exchange for lunch and dinner
for John Tentomas of Eden's Restaurant as well as work for Eva's
Restaurant for Steve Kapelonis. I later created New York City
Outlaws with Steve.
books were made just at the very beginning of the direct market.
Where did you get these books sold? Did any of them get to newsstands
or any of the traditional comics outlets at the time?
were a lot of independent distributors out there at the time: Phil
Sueling, Bud Plant, Diamond, Forman and Wang, and Monkey's Retreat.
They all purchased a lot of copies. I think around 3,000 all together.
I also took out ads in the Comic Buyer's Guide and Rocket's
Blast Comic Book Collector.
it difficult basically starting a whole line from scratch?
had saved up some money so I decided to gamble it and start publishing.
I had done color separations by hand before for UFO Publications
so I was able to add color to my books. Rock Comics had color
every other page because that's how the printing press worked at
they a tougher sell because they were treasury-sized? What gave
you the idea to do them at that size instead of as a standard-size
was inspired by Marvel's Treasury that featured the Wally Wood Daredevil
vs the Submariner story and saw how powerful that artwork
was and decided that my hard work would look more impressive if
I published it in the larger tabloid size. I was also impressed
by Steranko's Mediascene publication which was a tabloid
size as well as Monster Times--again a tabloid size.
did you get Neal Adams to contribute?
had been going up to Continuity (Neal's production company) and
Neal would let me and my brother Mark hang around and watch him
draw and ink. I saw him color with Dr. Martin's dyes . He was like
an artistic father to all young artists that came up to see him.
Neal was a really superior person--very intelliegent and kind. I
told Neal about my idea of being an independent publisher and he
really liked the idea. I ended up hiring him as well as Jack Abel
and Joe Rubinstein who was a very studied and intelligent inker.
had tried to get Wally Wood, Russ Heath and Kurt Shaffenburger to
do some inking but they were busy. Gil Kane and George Perez were
asked as well but were busy on other projects. The first two books
I did were tabloid size. I later switched to magazine format since
I was told by distributors that it would make the magazines more
sellable. This turned out to be true. I had complaints about the
tabloids since they had to be folded to fit onto comic store racks.
Aaargh! Did Rock Comics have any sort of audience with rock
'n roll/music fans rather than just comics readers? Was that a goal
with the book, to combine those two potential audiences?
wanted to combine Rock and Roll images with Super heroes. I thought
the combination worked well together. There is a terrific book that
came out recently called Can Rock & Roll Save the World by
Ian Sirley - it explores the history of the rock music/comics connection
(and by the way, contains an interview with me).
are you doing now?
do a lot of private commissions and put up a lot of artwork for
sale on Ebay. I also do movie storyboards for films. I still do
a lot of children's books. I also am the author of several drawing
books that include Comic Book Anatomy, Comic Book Women,
Comic Book Perspective and How to Draw Comic Book Horses
LARSEN Everybody knows who Erik
Larsen is--writer, artist, and creator of Savage Dragon.
There's very few characters Erik hasn't worked on, and he was one
of the earliest people to write to me to say nice things about Treasury
Comics.com. I emailed him recently and asked if he wanted to do
an interview for the site, even though he had not worked on any
of the treasuries themselves. I figured he grew up on them like
I did, and thought it'd be neat to hear how the treasuries are beloved
to a Big-Time Comics Pro like Erik. Not only did Erik say yes, but
he then told me he is in fact working on a treasury-sized comic
right now! So the time was right...
an avowed big fan of different formats for comics, like the treasuries.
From my experience, every single person who loves them discovered
them as a kid. Do you remember when you first read them?
Larsen :I'm not sure how old I was but I was a kid. I
can recall getting them at Rexall Drug in Ft. Bragg. When Superman
Vs. the Amazing Spider-Man came out it was one of the most exciting
were some of your favorites?
Vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali,
2001, Captain America's Bicentennial Battles, The
Bible and the first few Marvel Treasury Editions back
when they clearly wanted to make them special.
you buy any treasury you found, or did you get them based on who
was in it?(I tended to skip the Rudolphs, I'm now ashamed
bought most of them--but not all. I even sent away for a few through
the mail. I remember getting a Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes
through the mail. It was a new one--and I was devastated when I
got it and saw that Vinnie Colletta had butchered Grell's art. I
learned my lesson about buying book blindly through the mail.
the treasury-sized book you're working on now? Why treasury-sized?
putting together a book called Giant-Sized Kung-Fu Bible Stories
with a mess of the most awesome artists in comics. Me and Bruce
Timm are putting it together. Bruce's chapter is awe-inspiring.
We both grew up with and fell in love with that format.
MORROW is the editor and creative force behind TwoMorrows'
The Jack Kirby Collector, a magazine devoted to All Things
"King" Kirby. He's coralled comic talent from all corners
of the industry to appear in its pages, from getting talents like
Mike Allred and Kevin Nowlan to ink Kirby covers to hosting Mark
Evanier's regular "Jack F.A.Q.s" column. I was only dimly
aware of JKC until I saw that with its 31st issue, it was going
treasury-sized, so as to better present the King's work. I picked
up that issue, loved it, and have gotten every issue since. When
I expanded the JKC page here, I let John know, and he was happy.
He then made me happy by agreeing to answer some questions about
himself, JKC, and going treasury-sized...
you read the treasuries growing up? If so, what were some of your
favorites? (other than 2001 and Cap's Bicentennial Battles,
Morrow :Sure, growing up, I read all the Treasuries I
could get my hands on! I remember when DC first released the Famous
First Editions; I never got the Action #1, but I did
manage to get all the others, from Detective #27-on. But
I really preferred the ones where they just reprinted older stories,
Marvel really did them the best. Of course, I loved Kirby's Captain
America's Bicentennial Battles. Seeing his art that size was
a blast. Actually, the 2001 edition didn't do much for me;
I never really understood the movie, and the Treasury wasn't that
much help either. I didn't get much of an actual *story* there,
just lots of pretty visuals (come to think of it, that's kinda like
the movie itself).
Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali was a really mind-blower; the art
was amazing at that size. But my favorite was the first Superman/Spider-Man.
I begged my parents to get that one for me for Christmas, since
I'd never seen an actual copy for sale locally, and mail order was
the only way to get it. The first week of December that year, my
mom gave me a check for $25, made out to the old Koch "We Want Your
Money" people with ads in Comics Buyer's Guide (called The
Buyer's Guide for Comic Fandom back then), and said "Merry Christmas."
When the package arrived a couple of weeks later, I was blown away
going treasury-sized for Jack Kirby Collector an idea that
you always wanted to do from the beginning or was it something you
came up with as you were working on it?
the early issues of the Jack Kirby Collector, readers kept
saying, "Show Jack's art larger!!" And after getting lots of full-size
photocopies of his work, I knew it was screaming to be seen at the
size he drew it (or as close as possible). One of the best Kirby
collectibles ever was the 1971 Kirby Unleashed portfolio,
which was tabloid sized (11" x 14"), and I loved the repro of Jack's
work in that. So when it became apparent I'd have to cut the magazine
back from bi-monthly to quarterly with #31 (due simply to my time
constraints with our growing businesses), I tried to come up with
a way to include more stuff without it taking quite as much time.
So I opted for the tabloid size‹10" x 14" though; and inch narrower,
due to the capabilities of our printer's equipment‹to see what the
response was. Losing that extra inch also meant we could increase
the page count to 80 pages, and keep it under the maximum postal
weight for Bulk Mailing (to keep our postage rates affordable).
been the response--either sales or critically--to going to the bigger
size? (I, of course, love it!)
figured, if anyone deserved to have the biggest honkin' publication
on the market, it was Kirby. A handful of readers really, really
hated the new size at first (you should see the hate mail I got!),
but the overwhelming majority absolutely loved it, except for the
hassle of it not fitting in their comic book long boxes. Now, it's
just a given that the mag is oversized, and everyone seems to really
love it that way. I get numerous requests for us to reproduce our
existing Collected Jack Kirby Collector trade paperback volumes
in the new tabloid size!
gotten some amazing people, like Kevin Nowlan, Matt Wagner, and
Marshall Rogers, to "collaborate" with Kirby on the covers of
JKC. Have any of them commented to you about working at the
bigger size? Did they enjoy it?
our cover inkers are generally working at the same size they would
for a standard comic book, there really hasn't been any difference
for them. The change is in what size the art reproduces. A lot of
inkers' work benefits from being reduced down 64% (which is why
artists draw at the larger size to begin with; it tightens up when
reduced). But Kirby's style is so open, that the inks tend to look
great, even at the actual size they were done.
of the nicest things about JKC is you get to see so much
Kirby stuff so big and with much nicer printing than a lot of his
work got originally. Is there any work of his you'd love to get
your hands on and do a giant, treasury-sized edition of?
love to do a big-size version of Kirby's unpublished In The Days
of the Mob work; Mike Royer's inks are just so spectacular on
that book. But although we've got access to all the art, there's
legal entanglements that would keep it from happening. However,
we've got something extra special coming up for Jack Kirby Collector
#50. I'll be producing it as an oversized Book, squarebound, 168
pages, instead of the usual oversized 80-page magazine. It's going
to be called KIRBY FIVE-OH!, and focus on the "50 Best" of everything
in Kirby's 50-year career in comics, as assembled by our regular
columnists and me. It'll be out in December, and my hope is that
it'll get Kirby better exposure in the Bookstore market.
you think JKC has been effective in presenting the genius
of Kirby to a new generation? Are some of the fans you meet at cons
or get letters from from people who didn't grow up with Kirby comics
modesty aside, I'm convinced the Jack Kirby Collector has
managed to both "shore up" support for Kirby's legacy among his
existing fans, as well as introduce him to some new ones during
its 13-year life. In addition to keeping the older fans like me
motivated and inspired to continue seeking out Kirby's work, more
and more, I'm meeting younger readers who weren't even buying comics
while Kirby was actively producing them‹but they're fans of his
work now, and of the magazine. So it's really gratifying to know
that my little pet project has had some effect on that. I also see
that we're having an effect on some level at Marvel and DC, because
I've been honored to get asked by them to provide introductions,
essays, and Kirby art for their Kirby-related reprint projects.
if nothing else, the mag's sheer existence gives the Big Two an
easy place to go to get materials to augment their own Kirby publications,
which in turn helps to further Jack's legacy. And the online Jack
Kirby Museum and Research Center (www.kirbymuseum.org)
might never have come into being if the Jack Kirby Collector
magazine hadn't been around to sort of "rally the troops" prior
to its existence, and it's now a great resource for future generations
to learn about Jack's life and career. So yes, the magazine has
had an effect on promoting Kirby's legacy, if nothing more than
inspiring others to kind of "take the ball and run with it" after
seeing our humble little (okay, BIG) mag do its thing.
NOWLAN is a superb artist, having done work as both
penciller and inker for a variety of companies. He inked Jose Luis
Garcia Lopez's pencils on the "Metal Men" strip for Wednesday
Comics, making it one of the most beautiful-looking in the series,
and that's saying something!
also was an early fan of this site, taking the time to write me
to tell me how much he liked it, and occasionally he would send
in corrections when I got something wrong, something I really appreciated,
since I want this site to be as factually accurate as possible!
Wednesday Comics ended, I asked Kevin if he wouldn't mind
talking to me about his experiences working on the series. He generously
Had you heard of the Wednesday Comics series before you
got involved with it?
Nowlan: Yes. Mark Chiarello contacted me about the project
early on. I thought it sounded like a great idea. The kind of thing
that makes you say, "Why didn't someone do this years ago?"
At the time, I was deep into the inks for the Batman Confidential
arc that José pencilled so I couldn't commit as early as I'd have
liked. With a hard-and-fast weekly schedule, the only way I could
pencil and ink a story and not run into deadline problems would
be to start early. That wasn't possible and for a while it looked
like I wouldn't be involved at all. A few weeks later, Mark called
and asked if I'd be interested in inking the Metal Men story over
José's pencils and I jumped at the chance.
I've seen copies of Jose's original pencils for other books,
and they're extraordinarily complete. As an inker, do you prefer
working where you have to do less finishing of the art, or does
it vary from project to project?
With José and most other pencillers, I'd prefer to work over finished
pencils. The first two issues of the Batman Confidential
arc were looser because he'd originally planned on inking them himself.
On the third issue, he finished them so tight that an inker wasn't
even needed. So it went faster and the art looks sharper.
mind if the penciller leaves some of the rendering for me to refine
but I've worked with some artists who didn't even finish the backgrounds
and expected me to pick up the slack. I didn't care much for that.
I worked with one guy who had trouble drawing a hand. Not a big,
dramatic hand, just a small hand in a two shot of with a couple
of characters talking. So he just left a blank area at the end of
the guy's arm and told me I was supposed to draw the hand for him.
He had issues.
Wow--that takes some real chutzpah--"Finish this hand for
me." I'll finish cashing the check for you, too! So...how far
along were you on "Metal Men" once the first issue came
out in July? Were all twelve installment mostly completed?
Yes, we weren't completely finished but we were far enough ahead
that we didn't have to worry much. Jose was consistent, a new page
to me every Friday, like clockwork.
How big were Jose's originals? In my interview with Mark Chiarello,
he mentioned Mike Allred's pages were twice up, and Paul Pope's
were nearly door-sized!
The image size is about 17 x 22". Roughly two, standard size originals
You mentioned earlier your reaction to the whole Wednesday
Comics idea. Was working at this giant size part of the attraction
to working on it? Is the idea of giant-sized comics something that
gets you creatively excited?
Yes, but I was mostly interested as a potential reader. As a contributor,
I was a bit nervous about working on art that large. If you intend
for the reduction to help minimize little imperfections in the art
you're at a disadvantage when you work so close to print size. If
you work larger you end up wishing you had longer arms.
Did you buy the classic DC and Marvel treasuries as a kid? What
were some of your favorites?
Yes. I loved the Superman/Muhammad Ali book because it had
new material, drawn by Adams (and Giordano and Austin) and fairly
close to the original art size so you felt like you were seeing
more than you'd ever find in a standard-size book. You can study
the technique a little easier. Same goes for the Gaspar Saladino
Kubert's Tarzan reprints, the Dr. Strange collection,
they were all favorites, but the one I went the craziest over was
the Conan treasury with "Red Nails." Smith's coloring
was amazing and again, you could study the technique a little easier
in the larger format.
So, even at a young age, you were already keying to the techniques
behind the art? Did any of the treasuries introduce you to the work
of someone you weren't familiar with, or was it more like a "I
know I like Joe Kubert, so I know I'll like his work even bigger!"
type of thing?
Well, I wasn't that young. I would have been in High School
when most of the Marvel and DC Treasuries were published, but yes,
I was trying to learn how comics were drawn and trying to imitate
my favorite pencilers, inkers and letterers.
Did any of the treasuries introduce you to the work of someone
you weren't familiar with, or was it more like a "I know I like
Joe Kubert, so I know I'll like his work even bigger!" type
I think I would have been familiar with all of the DC artists but
some of the Marvel stuff was new to me. I started reading Dr.
Strange when Englehart and Brunner revived the title so the
reprints of the older stories by Ditko and Severin were new to me.
Let's say DC or Marvel comes to you to do your own all-new, treasury-sized
book featuring anyone you'd like. Any particular character(s) you'd
love to take a crack at in the giant size?
Several. I'd like to do the old 70's version of Dr. Strange at Marvel.
At DC I'd have fun with almost any of the old characters. Batman,
of course, and one of these days I'd still like to draw an Inferior
Five story. That's a book that probably sell five copies.
I know I'd buy it! Finally, if they do another Wednesday
Comics series, would you be up for another round, maybe inking
Jose again? I'd love to see you guys on an Aquaman strip!
Oh, yeah. Sure! I love working with José. I'd like to see him draw
something with huge figures like we saw in the Spider-Man/Superman
PALMIOTTI has been both a writer and artist, and is
currently writing the wonderful Supergirl strip running in Wednesday
Comics. Jimmy was kind of enough to do an interview with me
about his work on this very special project:
How did you end up writing a strip for Wednesday Comics?
Did Mark Chiarello come to you or did you go to him?
Palmiotti: Mark approached Amanda and I to see if we
were interested in doing a Supergirl strip for the project because
he was a fan of the issue Justin and I did with Amanda in Supergirl
#12 and he has always loved Amanda's take on just about any character.
The project itself sounded , to me, too big of a thing to pass up
and we never say no to Mark, so it all worked out.
Did you have a Supergirl story you wanted to write?
Well, we knew it was Supergirl and it had to be 12 big pages long
and I had an idea that i just moved around a bit to fit the character
and then Amanda thought about the Super Pets and we put it all together
to make it work as a story. Honestly, there are a number of characters
we would have liked to do, but I got to admit, Supergirl is one
of my top favorite characters because she really is just a young
The Supergirl strip is a very light-hearted, "all-ages" type
story, which I think works well as a great contrast to some of the
other more gritty, serious strips. Did you have this in mind while
coming up with the story? Did you have any inkling as to what the
others were working on?
We knew the other strips were being done by the best talent available
and we felt way over outr heads with this project so we went to
what we do best...and that was something that would be fun more
than anything. We wanted to make people smile and with Amanda on
board, it just came naturally after that. The page is opposite one
of my favorite artists, Paul Pope, so the placement was an extra
bonus for us as well. It was a win-win experiment and honestly,
no one was expecting me to write something light and fun.
The strips in Wednesday Comics are paced unlike anything
else in regular comics--12 one-page segments instead of a 20-plus
page story. Did you find it a challenge writing and pacing a story
like this? Was it a fun process?
It was both fun and a challenge for us and that's ok because everything
I take on these days is a bit of an adventure for me to see what
I can do next. making it all work within 12 parts and making each
segment able to somewhat stand alone was something I labored on
for the first few, then when Aquaman came around, it got much easier.
I really don't know how to explain that better...lol.
Knowing the strip was going to run at the giant 14x20" page size,
did you specifically write in moments specifically tailored for
Amanda Conner (who's doing a great job on the art!) to really take
advantage of the extra space?
When working with Amanda, I try to do smaller panels because I know
she prefers that, and then, she usually adds some extras to make
the action and language move better. She did a brilliant job with
pacing out the dialogue and motions of the characters...each page
has a secondary story taking place and that's almost all Amanda.
When you work with brilliant people, they tend to make you look
good. Such is the case. Its why everyone wants to work with her.
We do the same thing on Power Girl as well.
Looking at the final product, is the story being printed at the
giant size something that makes it extra special for you? Do you
enjoy the giant format?
I love it...its a nice break from the usual books and honestly,
Ii am a fan of the other teams in the paper, so for me, its exciting
on many levels. I dont know if this is anything but a one-time experiment,
but if they did it again, I would hope to be included.
Did you read/enjoy the DC/Marvel treasury comics as a kid?
Yes, I pretty much had them all, from the Captain America Bicentennial
one to the Superman vs. Ali one. I loved the format and liked the
chance to get tracing paper and try to match the comic art line
for line with a brush to help me learn how to ink. They were easily
the most stolen books by my friends when they came over. Don't understand
why they stopped making them. Really.
Did you always want to work Aquaman (and other guest-stars) into
the Supergirl story, or did it occur to you as you were plotting
It just hit me one day that if would be an interesting thing to
do and i grew up on the Super Friends Aquaman, not the royal sometimes
entitled Aquaman...so given this chance, I thought...what would
Aquaman really be like if he were real, and what would he
be acting like and so I worked it onto the strip. For me, the tone
you should be thinking about here is Aquaman played by a younger
Dennis Leary. Ijust love how people are responding to it...but really
dont expect DC will ever let me do an actual book like that...lol.
I really do believe there should be more fun in the books these
Is Aquaman a character you'd ever want to write as a solo star?
Have any untold Aquaman stories you'd like to tell?
I would love to do a 6 issue mini-series that has nothing to do
with DC continuity. Something showing what it would be like for
one person to have to deal with 70% of the planets problems while
having a life of their own...and mostly showing what Aquaman eats...I
think I started a lot of this conversation a few years back at a
San Diego panel and I have never really gotten a good answer. Aquaman
fans probably don't like what I did with their character, but whatever.
Its all good fun and nice to see him pop up. Next week its Dr. Mid-Nite.
Where can I get one of those clam phones Aquaman has?
I think it is up to DC Direct to make them. I just couldn't think
of what he would use to communicate and the idea just popped into
mine and Amanda's head.
If DC ever did a second series of Wednesday Comics (and
I hope they do!), is there any character you'd like to take on for
a second go-round?
I would love to do a Jonah Hex with Justin and Jordi Bernet, a Monolith
with Phil Winslade, a Terra with Amanda Conner and Sea Devils with
Darwyn Cooke. Honestly, there is a lot i want to do...only time
and sales will tell...lol.
ROZAKIS worked at DC Comics for over twenty-five years,
as an editor, writer, and, of course, as DC's resident Answer Man.
I thought he would be a great person to give us a little info about
DC's treasuries, and he graciously agreed to talk with TreasuryComics.com:
Do you know who at DC first had the idea to try the tabloids?
Rozakis: I can't say for sure, but I think Sol Harrison
was the driving force behind them.
they ever big sellers? Apparently, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
was a big rainmaker for DC. Were the subjects (Superman, Ghosts,
etc) just primarily based on sales of the original titles? (I've
always assumed that, since even big names like Wonder Woman or Flash
never got their own treasuries)
sold well enough to keep DC (and Marvel) doing them for a few years.
Given the dollar price (when comics were a quarter) they got placed
in stores that wouldn't carry the regular comics. Sales were pretty
much based on the sell-through of regular titles.
have read that they were mostly put together by E.Nelson Bridwell.
Did anyone else at DC help him or did his encyclopedic knowledge
of All Things DC do the job?
was the one putting them together based on the themes suggested/approved
by Carmine, Sol and the editors.
in the heck did you guys end up doing one, and only one, Dick Tracy
comic book?? (One of my favorites!)
Sol--got a deal on the material. There probably would have been
more than one, but I think the sales were very poor.
did they eventually go to (mostly) all-new material?
were making enough money on them to justify paying for new material.
you know why DC eventually gave up on them? Were the digests better
sellers, as they lasted all the way into the mid 80s?
eventually petered out. DC never stopped doing anything that was
making them money. The digests were easier to get placed in places
like supermarkets, so they lasted longer. Archie Comics still has
a substantial presence with them.
Famous First Editions were my favorites because of the material
in them. And I have a special fondness for the Tarzan one because
it contained my first published work--puzzles I created for the
DC ever actually make any of the display boxes? Could one, possibly,
be "out there" somewhere??
were "dumps" as we called them for the early ones. The books were
actually shipped to the stores in them.
CHRIS RYALL is the co-creator of Zombies vs. Robots, as well as the CCO and Editor-in-Chied of IDW, an independent comic book company that has been producing some truly remarkable material over the years. In late 2011, IDW began releasing treasury-sized editions of some of their most popular titles, starting with Dave Stevens' classic The Rocketeer. Chris was kind enough to talk with us about why IDW has gotten into the treasury comics business, what they have coming up for 2012, and his love of the format.
TreasuryComics.com: When and how did the idea for The Rocketeer treasury come about? Was it ever anything Dave Stevens indicated he wanted to do at some point?
Chris Ryall: This one came from editor Scott Dunbier. Scott was also the one who made Rocketeer happen at all for us, so everything that we've done with that property so far: the deluxe, recolored re-presentation of the original Dave Stevens material, the oversized Artists Edition book, and the new anthology series, those were all Scott. We'd talked in the past about doing some projects in the Treasury Edition format, but nothing came of those earlier talks. We decided we wanted to get those going to end this year and roll through 2012, and The Rocketeer made perfect sense as the debut book. This was partly due to the fact that the Stevens stories that Laura Martin recolored were only available as $30 or $75 hardcovers, so we wanted fans to be able to see this Eisner-winning work at a lower price pointStevens never singled out this format as a way to show his work, but Scott's very close with the family, they've been very supportive of everything we've done and talked about how much Dave would've liked the great packages we've done to showcase his amazing work.
TC: I understand IDW has a number of other treasuries scheduled for release! What are some the titles? How do you decide which ones would "work" in this over-sized format?
CR: We do! In fact, a project of mine, Zombies vs Robots (created with artist Ashley Wood) is next; that one hits stores on December 14, followed by Danger Girl a month later.
We're also planning a G.I. Joe book, TMNT, a 10th Anniversary 30 Days of Night Treasury Edition in mid-2012, and a couple of other special ones, and onward from there.
TC: Have any creators come to you and said "I'd love to do a treasury edition of my book" or do you generally go to them with the idea?
CR: We went to them so far, but I do expect that to change once people see the first few. In fact, we did have an advance copy of the Rocketeer Treasury Edition at the Long Beach con in early October and a few creators there said how much they'd love to see their work that way, too.
It just strikes me more and more that, with digital comics playing a more prominent role in today's world, it's more important than ever to produce this nice, lasting, oversize editions that digital will never be able to replicate. Not till they create a 10" x 13" iPad, that is, and not even then, really…
TC: I remember reading about DC's Wednesday Comics series that part of the reason they went with the folded-newspaper format was so they could be shipped and displayed alongside other regular-sized comics. Of course, The Rocketeer treasury and the others don't fold in half, so was there ever any retailer resistance to these books?
CR: Oh, there are always little bits of initial resistance to anything that doesn't fit alongside regular-sized comics racks. But that usually lasts until they see these nice books, so I expect these to go over well. It as important to me/us to keep the size as close to the originals as possible, both out of love for that format and also to make sure that these new editions fit in the existing bags/boards that are in the market already.
TC: In 1975, DC released a treasury edition of Dick Tracy Sunday strips--the only time they ever published the character--which has always been one of my favorites. IDW has issued so many great collections of classic newspaper strips, are there any of those you'd love to do as a treasury?
CR: We've talked about Bloom County, but yeah, I love the idea of doing Dick Tracy as an homage to that old edition--that's the same reason we want to do G.I. Joe, to pay tribute to that old treasury edition, which was the first G.I. Joe comic I ever read.
TC: Do you read the classic DC and Marvel treasuries growing up? What were some of your favorites?
CR: Roughly…all of them. The first one I ever got was the first Fantastic Four Treasury Edition, and I just loved everything about it. That was my first exposure to the Lee/Kirby issue with the Impossible Man, the Galactus Saga, and I still vividly remember that inside-back-cover schematic of the Baxter Building. Hell, I remember Ben Grimm's eyeballs being opposite one another on the cover, too. So that one and the subsequent FF book, with the Dr. Doom/Sub-Mariner comics from issues 5-6, plus I think FF 94 (the one with the Frightful Four--seeing her cat turn into that giant panther-thing on these larger pages just knocked me out). But I also loved the Spider-Man "Sinister Six" one--I'm going from memory here, a Hulk book, Captain America's Bicentennial Battles, the holiday edition that Marvel put out…it's obvious I was a Marvel kid, since I have a fond memory of reading, say, Two-Face's origin in a Batman treasury but can't recall more about it than that. Whereas with the Marvel stuff, I even remember some dude called, like the Black Hole in the Howard the Duck Treasury Edition. Loved that stuff, just adored it. I read my way through two copies of the Goodwin/Simonson Close Encounters of the Third Kind adaptation, too.
Although, thinking about them all, I guess other than that first FF book, for me, the be-all, end-all of Treasury Editions was that first Superman/Spider-Man book. Such great, great stuff, and they really used the format to throw some big, impressive images at us, didn't they?
My love of the format was what made me so happy when Paul Dini and Alex Ross brought it back with their books (although those stories weren't as much fun as the old goofier Marvel comics. But they sure looked great. And don't get me wrong, Dini wrote some good stories, but they were definitely more serious stories, not really the kind of thing you go back and re-read over and over). So now it's our turn to remind people how great this format is, and hopefully the books we're doing work as well for new readers as the original treasuries did for me.
STATON is a legend in the world of comics, with a career
spanning over four decades. There pretty much isn't a character
in the DC Universe that Joe hasn't drawn at one time or another,
in addition to his co-creation of E-Man, his work at Charlton,
Marvel, First, CrossGen, Comico, and others. His work on the treasury-sized
Gods of Mt. Olympus books isn't that well known, but it remains
some of his best, and Joe generously agreed to answer some questions
about those books and his career:
comics did you read growing up?
Staton :I go back a ways reading comics. I remember comics
like Floyd Godfreddson's Mickey Mouse serials and the Dell
Westerns, especially The Lone Ranger and Roy Rogers.
I always read the Superman books, and am still really attached
to Wayne Boring's drawing. Mystery In Space was a big favorite
and I was excited by Julie Schartz's re-inventing the old superhero
lineup, particularly with Gil Kane. And, of course, I always got
Harvey's Dick Tracy reprint book.
you want to be a comics artist specifically or did you fall into
think I always wanted to draw comics. Some of my earliest memories
are of tracing Dick Tracy and The Phantom from the
Sunday comics pages. That I actually wound up doing this continues
to amaze me.
have been some of your favorite assignments? (other than E-Man,
of course :)
versions of The Huntress are favorites. I think I did some
good work there. I loved my chance to work on Green Lantern,
first with Marv Wolfman and then with Steve Englehart. That was
my tie-in to Julie's take on the superheroes. Probably my favorite
job was a Batman book that was tied in with Senator Leahy's attempt
to ban landmines. Denny O'Neil wrote it and Bill Sienkiewicz did
an amazing job of inking. There's real content in that book.
did you end up doing these Gods of Mt. Olympus books?
had been working regularly for Charlton for a while, but then there
was a big shortage of newsprint, brought on, I think, by a strike
in Canada. I was out of work waiting for Charlton to get paper,
when Johnny Achziger contacted me. The Gods would keep me
busy and the idea seemed like a lot of fun.
you ever done work before this big? Did it affect how you did the
pencilling and inking?
the only thing I've ever done that size (except for some Superman
coloring books.) I don't think it affected my process that much.
I guess I just didn't know the difference.
layouts and the storytelling in these books is astounding. That's
not a question, I just wanted to say that.
from the completely-logical nudity, I think these books would've
been ideal for kids to learn about mythology. Do you know if that
was part of the intention?
do remember that Johnny sent me some nice write-ups from some educational
or library publications. I know we were pleased by this reaction,
so I would think that it would have been some of the intent.
there more of these planned if there were financially successful?
had hoped to make it a continuing thing. They were stopped because
I was over-committed once the paper strike was over and Charlton
went back into production. It's not the only time I've had trouble
admitting something isn't working. I tried to keep up with doing
the Gods while I was working steady again and I just stretched
too thin and finally had to admit I couldn't do it. You can see
a difference between the first issue, when I had all the time I
wanted to work over the drawings, and the last, where I was trying
to make up time with lots of silhouettes. It seems that we were
also out there before the direct market had developed and Johnny
had some trouble getting the books displayed.
haven't seen too much of your work printed in black and white, like
the Gods books are. Did you like seeing your work this way?
totally love b&w work and often think lots of comics would look
better in b&w. I've had some Michael Mauser stories printed
that way and have been very pleased.
done a lot of work recently with the Cartoon Network titles. Has
this been more/less fun than the superhero work you're famous for?
only real problem with the Cartoon Network stuff is the addition
level of approvals you have to cope with. The work itself is just
as much as fun. It's all comics.
you ever wanted to work with but haven't/never got the chance to?
hope is someday to be inked by Klaus Janson and to work on a script
by Rachel Pollack. And, of course, the dream of doing the ultimate
Dick Tracy graphic novel, written by Max Allan Collins, inked
by Terry Beatty, in the Treasury size, naturally.
Any projects you've got coming up you want to mention?
Cuti and I have a new E-Man issue coming out from Digital
Webbing in the fall. Chris Mills and I have a four-issue mini-series
of new stories with our webstrip character Femme Noir that
should be out early next year. That's from Ape. It's a 30's and
40's sort of pulp story. Very cool. And I did the last half of the
Ronald Reagan "graphic biography" that's in the bookstores in September.
I got to do Ollie North and Fawn Hall, who are great comics characters.
WISNIA is the artist/creator of Doris Danger and
Tabloia. One look at the cover of his Doris Danger treasury
comic will tell you his love of old-timey comics informs his work.
Chris kindly agreed to answer of some questions of mine about the
book, his work, and treasury comics in general...
gave you the idea to do a treasury-sized Doris comic?
Wisnia:My first comic, Tabloia Weekly Magazine
- and this was a regular comic-sized comic, mind you - featured
four tabloid-style stories, and one of them was Doris Danger
Seeks...Where Giant Monsters Creep and Stomp! When I finished
the five issue series, the next logical step was to do a trade paperback.
But I decided, rather than doing a Tabloia trade with everything
in it, that I would rather repackage the product, and collect each
of the four characters' stories as their own separate trades. Anthologies
don't historically do particularly well, and my Tabloia comic
was no exception, so I was just trying different formats and ideas
Doris stories were pretty popular, and of course I had all those
great pin-ups by all my favorite artists (Mike Mignola, Mike Allred,
Sam Kieth, Gene Colan, John Severin, Bill Sienkiewicz, Los Bros
Hernandez, Tony Millionaire, etc.) I felt from a marketing standpoint,
this would be a good package. And I started thinking, the attitude
in the comic is like, "Wow! Oh boy! Action! Action! Action!
Big! Huge! Important! Read it right away!" You know, like the
tone Stan Lee had for all his books. And I wanted the format to
contribute to that in-your-face, brash, hyper, "don't ignore
me," circus-type "Step right up!" attitude.
you look at original comic book art, it's drawn much larger than
actual comic book size. The standard page for the artwork is on
11"x17" paper, with the image being 10"x15".
Looking at my original artwork, which Dick Ayers inked for me, I
thought it deserved to be seen at a larger size. It just didn't
carry the same oompf, seeing it shrunk down to comic-size. The lines
aren't nearly thick and bold enough. The subject matter was giant
monsters, after all, so I wanted those monsters, and those splash
pages, to be GIANT.
the old treasuries. I loved how big they were. I love that they
make you feel like you're a kid again. Because the proportion of
you to the comic is more like the proportion of you as a kid to
a regular comic.
really the decision was obvious to me. This particular book just
HAD to be in that oversized format.
it sold any better/worse than other DD books?
my books seem to sell about the same numbers, give or take a hundred
copies. But this book's cover price is double or triple a standard
comic, so it's made me the most money of all my comics, in sales.
ironic thing is that I've never made back so much as my printing
costs from any of my comics' sales. And the absolutely pathetic
thing is that this book was so expensive to print, even with those
"record sales," that I still overall lost more money than
any other book I've made, thanks to the higher cost of printing
a book in this format.
I'm no business man. But it's been so worth it to me, to be able
to put out comics exactly how I want them to be. I'm really proud
of this Doris Danger treasury.
was it like being inked by the legendary Dick Ayers?
was a dream come true. I never imagined he would be up for a project
like this, from some unknown hack like me. He was my first experience
getting inked by someone else. I really enjoyed seeing what he did
with the pages. How he handled different compositions. Adding shading
here, thickening or thinning different lines.
did you get him and some of the other legends (Gene Colan, Irwin
Hasen, John Severin) to participate?
of them, I met at comics conventions. Some of them, I found online,
at their websites. John Severin I actually looked up in the phone
seen plenty of comics with pin-ups in them before. Sandman,
Sin City. But Mike Allred's Madman comics really impressed
me, because every issue, he'd have a pin-up or three by his favorite
comics artists, and he'd always write a little something about how
important they were to him, and I thought that was really great.
You could palpably feel the love he had for the work of all these
artists, and just for the medium of comics. How important it was
to him. And I wanted a comic that conveyed that same sense of love
of the medium, and to the history of the medium.
I started approaching all my idols, and showing them what I was
doing, and asking about them contributing. I didn't really get any
takers, until Dick Ayers agreed to ink monster stories for me. Then
artists would take a second look at my work, and started agreeing
to do pin-ups. Now it's snowballed, where there are so many contributors,
I suspect a lot of people just don't want to feel left out.
put out a Doris Danger war comic with pin-ups Russ Heath,
Sam Glanzman, and new pin-ups Dick Ayers and John Severin. I did
an outer space one with JH Williams III, Peter Bagge, Al Feldstein,
and Dave Gibbons. Every con, I'm looking for more of my favorite,
most influential artists, or hounding the ones who I've spoken with
before, but who haven't committed yet. It's an ongoing process that
I believe I've been doing for almost five years now.
the classic Marvel-monster comics your favorite ones growing up?
grew up in Lake Tahoe, so my only access to comics was going to
a supermarket. There weren't any comics shops in such a small town,
so all I got were the mainstream current monthly Marvel and DC books,
and if I missed an issue, I wouldn't just miss the opportunity to
read it. I was into Marvel superheroes.
collecting in college, and when I got out, I had free time and a
job and nothing to spend my money on, so I started popping into
comics shops. This was the mid-nineties, and a bunch of stores were
going out of business following the nineties boom, so I could pick
up old comics for fifty cents, or twenty-five cents, or a dime.
That's when I started getting hold of older comics, mostly seventies
stuff, because anything older was too valuable. That's when I found
all the seventies reprints of Where Monsters Dwell, Where
Creatures Roam and Creatures on the Loose, and that stuff.
That''s when I really got into them.
plans for another DD treasury?
throwing it together now. It will most likely be out in July. It
will collect the two Doris comics I mentioned earlier (Doris
Greatest All-Out Army Battle and Doris in Outer Space),
and I'm putting together an extra maybe twenty brand-new pages of
stories and pin-ups. It looks like it will run 64 pages this time,
and have a cover by Shag, and more pin-ups by Mike Allred, Sam Kieth,
Simon Bisley, Esad Ribic, Peter Kuper, Herb Trimpe...something like
were your favorite treasury comics you had as a kid?
earliest comics experiences are the Star Wars treasuries
and the Justice League treasury.
confused by the Star Wars one, because I think I had the
second one, and the first and third issue of the regular comic,
or something like that. But at any rate, the numbering of the issues
I had didn't make a complete story, and that's what confused me.
It confused me enough that I don't think I tried to read them at
all. I just watched the movie instead.
liked the Justice League one, and read it, and acted out
scenes from it, and drew all the characters from it. It confused
me too, though, because the "current" Justice League was
on the front, and the Golden-Age team was on the back, and Superman
and Batman looked almost identical (and I would note the subtle
differences, like a "What changed from this picture" puzzle),
Flash and Green Arrow looked completely different, and then a bunch
of them were completely different people. I asked my Mom why they
were different, and we tried to figure it out together, and she
tried to explain to me, but none of that crazy junk really makes
that much sense to a five year old, you know?
start collecting the oversized books until college, again picking
a ton of them up pretty cheaply about ten years ago.
you like to see the treasuries come back? Was this your attempt
at starting a new/old trend?
just never crossed my mind that they would come back. You know,
Alex Ross did his series of them. DC has been doing their hardcover
"absolute editions." I think all that stuff is pretty
great, if the art warrants it. I loved seeing all Kevin O'Neill's
intricate line-work and detail for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
in that giant size. Somehow, though, I'm generally not that interested
in seeing new art in the treasury format. I enjoy the OLD ones best.
mind seeing an "absolute edition" of Kirby stories, that's
for sure! (That's all most of my favorite old treasuries were, anyways).
your monster character "Aahblaah, the Creature Who Defied All Science...By
Punching!" a comment on the current science vs. religion debate
going on in society? Do you think "Aahblaah" can be part of the
oh, you touched on a subject I get pretty belligerent about. I'm
an absolute skeptic and believer in science.
at its best, is about love, living a decent life, a feeling of self-worth
and understanding and meaning for our universe, caring for your
community and fellow man, and a comfort that there is a reward for
you after this harsh, confusing, unfair, and cold life. These are
noble ideals and important values, and there's plenty to benefit
is a system we've developed to collect and analyze data, and find
an explanation that supports all the data, to explain how our universe
works. When an explanation does not support all the data, or new
conflicting data is found, we search for new explanations, until
we find one that does account for everything. So eventually, as
we learn more and understand better, the best possible explanation
is not scientific. It can't change based on new evidence. It doesn't
look for new answers. All it can do scientifically is try to cram
all the hundreds of years of data into its one, unchanging, predetermined
theory, and try to rationalize reasons that so much data doesn't
is based in faith. That's what miracles are. They're events that
cannot be explained by science. If you try to explain them scientifically,
then they're no longer miracles. That doesn't devalue religion.
We have no evidence to support or refute that there is life after
death, except for people's personal beliefs and experiences and
feelings. No one has died and come back to tell us what they've
seen, and if they did, they'd have a tough time proving it, or reproducing
it in testable settings.
doesn't make religion untrue or invalid or unbeneficial. But that
isn't science, so I don't understand why there's even a debate that
it should be taught in science classrooms.
course, my Doris Danger comics don't deal with any of this
junk. They're fun for Christians and scientists!
would you like to see play Doris in a Doris Danger movie?
honestly never imagined these stories as a film. My first thought
is that the ultimate dream Doris film would be an animation by the
King himself. And I'm not talking those poor 1960's cut-outs of
his old Hulk and Captain America comics, sliding across the television
and not really animated.
then I begin envisioning a B-picture, with no stars in it at all,
but all the money of the budget going to Ray Harryhausen animating
all the monsters. What do you think?
YEATES is a superb comic-book artist and storyteller,
who has worked for Eclipse Comics, DC, Marvel, and many more. He
did some amazing work on Saga of the Swamp Thing and excelled
at non-superhero genres like horror, war, and sci-fi. But certainly
his most unusual project was Captain EO, a treasury-sized
comic starring a space travelling Michael Jackson!:
did you end up with the job?
Yeates:Eclipse Comics were located near where I live,
so I was friends with the publisher and editor Dean Mullaney and
Cat Yronwode. They were familiar with other drawings of musicians
I'd done, particularly Jimi Hendrix, so they thought of me as the
guy for this job. They felt my ability to draw likenesses of real
people was key, Although I must admit getting likenesses can be
you ever have any direct contact with Michael Jackson's people?
Did they have any control over what you were doing?
don't recall having any direct contact with Michael Jackson's people
myself, though maybe I did. Eclipse had lots of contact with
them. Basically there were a few faces which weren't acceptable
and had to be re-drawn. I think they looked like Jackson, they just
weren't flattering enough. It was odd, as none of us could quite
figure out why they wanted those changed.
big did you draw the original art to be printed at treasury size?
Did you have to do anything different knowing it would be printed
were very big, something like 17" X 26". I love working big, makes
my art look better. I made sure the art had lots of opportunities
for the 3-D effect . Plenty of depth, things poking at you, etc.
the idea of doing the book at that size make the project more exciting
or was it pretty much the same as doing any other book?
made it more interesting I think. I also did it on duo-shade board,
which gave me the greys to work with, and I love using that technique.
it simply a work-for-hire project or did you ever see royalties
from the book?
believe I was supposed to see royalties, but it didn't sell enough.
Mainly because of a "Valkyrie" ad on the back cover of the book
that Disney thought was too risque to have in their stores. So I
just received my page rate.
you excited over the idea that the book would be reaching a wider
audience (i.e. families at Disneyland) than the typical comic book?
I was, but as I said, the sales at Disneyland didn't happen. One
good thing was that as part of the deal I got a complimentary trip
to Disneyland and an opportunity to see the Captain Eo 3-D
movie there several times in a row to study it. That was fun. Terrific
was a weirder job--drawing Swamp Thing or a space-going Michael
Michael Jackson. What, Swamp Thing weird?
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