I have 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.

Below are the people who have graced TreasuryComics.com with their presence (click the graphic to go the specific interview):

John Arcudi - 11/25/09
Rich Buckler - 12/1/07
Mark Chiarello - 4/7/09
Mark Evanier - 3/4/06
Geoff Grogan - 5/1/08
Tony Isabella - 12/3/06
Dan Jurgens - 5/24/09
Paul Karasik -3/19/07
Sam Kieth - 12/1/08
Ken Landgraf - 6/5/07
Erik Larsen - 7/4/07
John Morrow - 8/2/07
Kevin Nowlan - 10/31/09
Jimmy Palmiotti - 8/24/09
Bob Rozakis - 10/26/06
Ryall
Chris Ryall - 12/6/11
Joe Staton - 6/5/07
Chris Wisnia - 1/10/07
   
Tom Yeates - 11/2/07
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN 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:



TreasuryComics.com: How did you get involved with Wednesday Comics?

John 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.

TC: 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?

JA: 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.

TC: 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?

JA: 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, after all.

My 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.

Including 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.

TC: 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?

JA: I was long finished with writing the story by the time they told me about the USA Today installments.

TC: 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?

JA: 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, actually.

TC: Was it a challenge, writing a story with this kind of pacing? Its a very different animal than writing a 22+ page comic.

JA: 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.

TC: 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.)?

JA: 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.

Honestly, 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. Thanks, Barbara!

TC: If there was a Wednesday Comics 2, any characters you'd love to take a shot at? (Other than maybe The Spectre?)

JA: I don't know, after Superman, how do you follow that up?

 

 

RICH 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! treasury comic:



TreasuryComics.com: Did you pursue a big project like Superman vs Shazam or did DC call you?

Rich 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!

TC: 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?

RB: 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).

TC:In 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?

RB:It 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.

TC:I 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?

RB:The 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 panels.

TC:You 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?

RB:No, I was never told why that was done. I can't even speculate about it.

TC:At one time or another, you've drawn pretty much every hero in the DC and Marvel universes. Any favorite characters/books/writers to work on/with?

RB:I 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.

My 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!

 

MARK 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, as well:

TreasuryComics.com: I was thrilled to learn you had heard of TreasuryComics.com. That made my day.

Mark 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 stuff?

TC: 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, etc...

MC: 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.

TC: 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.

MC: My son does the same thing, and I'm like "No, dude, that was mine when I was a kid...be careful!"

TC: [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?

MC: 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.

TC: 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 in there...

MC: Right, right.

TC: 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 out?

MC: 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.

TC: 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?

MC: 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.

When 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.

TC: [laughs]

MC: Then the pages started coming in, and I realized he knew exactly what he wanted to do. He really killed it.

TC: 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!"

MC: Yeah, Kyle let that out of the bag a little prematurely, but Aquaman does make a guest appearance.

TC: I was very glad to see that [laughs].

MC: 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 get.

TC: 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..."

MC: [laughs] I would totally do that!

TC: A Brian Azzarello Aquaman comic? I'll buy 10, 15 copies of that... [laughs]

MC: That would be so cool.

TC: 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..."

MC: Yeah, right.

TC: 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.

MC: 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."

TC: 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.

MC: 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.

TC: [laughs]

MC: 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.

TC: 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?"

MC: 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.

TC: That's fantastic.

MC: So yeah, that'd be really fun.

TC: 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...

MC: [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.

TC: [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...

MC: 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.

TC: Yeah, 10x13 or something.

MC: 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.

TC: Yeah, I go on ebay, and sometimes I'm lucky and find these odd little one-shots that were printed at this big size.

MC: Yeah, Joe Kubert was in my office the other day, turning in his installment--you know, he's doing Sgt. Rock for us--

TC: Amazing.

MC: 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!"

TC: [big laughs] Did he hit you with those giant hands he has?

MC: Actually, he did.

TC: So, will there be any type of display material for this, as a separate thing, or for right now...

MC: 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.

TC: 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.

I 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?

MC: 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.

The 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.

The other one that really killed me was the Captain America's Bicentennial Battles--

TC: The Jack Kirby one.

MC: Yeah! Having Barry [Smith], John Romita, and Herb Trimpe ink the book--it was just, God, it was incredible.

TC: That's one of those combinations you think would never work--Barry Smith inking Jack Kirby?--but it worked pretty well!

MC: Those pages, they're astounding, they're so gorgeous.

TC: 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 series.

You 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..."

MC: [laughs] I don't mind! We'll have you go on a fifty-state tour, selling the book.

TC: [big laughs] Yeah! Anyway, thanks again, Mark, and good luck with Wednesday Comics.

MC: Very cool, thanks Rob, this was a lot of fun. My pleasure.

 

I cannot 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!

 

 

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.

TreasuryComics.com:Did you go after the job of writing these books or did Marvel or did someone else come to you?

Mark 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.

At 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.)

TC:Do you happen to know why Marvel had this brief flirtation with doing comics of the HB characters?

ME:I 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 them.

TC:Do 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?

ME:All 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 these."

By 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.)

TC:Do you ever remember hearing how they sold? Was Marvel trying to tap back into the very young readers market?

ME:I 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.

As 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.

TC:Finally, 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?

ME:I 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.

TC:Oh, one last thing--I see that Dan Spiegle drew parts of these books. Is there anything he CAN'T draw?

ME:Dan 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.

A couple other things you might like to know about these books...

Because 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.

That 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.)

After 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.

 

GEOFF 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 Out!! Monsters:


TreasuryComics.com: 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?

Geoff Grogan: I read tons of comics as a kid--from Gold Key to Disney Digests to Archie, DC and Marvel.

I also 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.

As 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.

TC: Did you have some the classic 70s treasuries growing up?

GG: 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!

TC: How did you come up with the idea for Look Out!! Monsters?

GG: 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.

TC: 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 way around?

GG: 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.

It 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).

TC: What has been people's reaction to the book?

GG: 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.

TC: Any plans to do more books like this? Any more monsters and/or events you want to tackle?

GG: 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 on--Nice Work--go read it!!!

 

TONY 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...


TreasuryComics.com:During 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?

Tony 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.

Fantastic 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.

Gift 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.

Jerry 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.

So, 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.

TC:Marvel 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 to sell?

TI:Obviously, 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.

TC:As 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?

TI:The 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.

TC:One 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?

TI:That 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.

TC:Did 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?

TI:Definitely. 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.

TC:Would you like to see Marvel, DC, or anyone else try the treasuries (or any other format) again?

TI:DC 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 interested otherwise.

TC:And finally: "Tony Isabella/Alex Ross: Black Lightning: The Power of Electricity." Thoughts?

TI:At 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.

 

DAN 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 Four:


TreasuryComics.com: 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?

Dan 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.

Eventually that Agreement fell into place and we were off and running!

TreasuryComics.com: Was you writing it a given, because you were writing Superman at the time?

Dan 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!

In 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?

TreasuryComics.com: 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?

Dan 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.

TreasuryComics.com: 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?

Dan 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 Spidey.

TreasuryComics.com: Do you recall the reasoning of doing the book at treasury size? Was it proposed to be in that format from the outset?

Dan 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.

TreasuryComics.com: 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 for you?

Dan 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.

In 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.

TreasuryComics.com: 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.

Dan 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.

TreasuryComics.com: 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...?

Dan 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.

PAUL 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:



TreasuryComics.com:Do you remember why Bad News was started? Did it have any specific editorial POV that was different from Raw?

PK:The 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 job.

Mark 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.

The 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.

TC:When working with so many different artists, was it difficult putting any given issue together?

PK:Anthologies 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.

TC:Did 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?

PK:Those 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.

TC:Why is Bad News #2 tabloid/treasury size??

PK:We 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 cover price.

That tabloid issue has the best overall energy as a result.

By 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.

TC:Bad 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?

PK:I 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 distribution.

TC:You 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 it?

PK:That's the way I work. For me "Form Follows Content". I conform my so-called style to whatever the story demands.

TC:Did you read comics growing up? How did you end up working in the "undergrounds"?

PK:I 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.

TC:What are you doing now?

PK:My 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.

 

SAM 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 comic:



TreasuryComics.com: What comics did you read growing up?

Sam 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.

TC: Do you remember encountering the treasury-sized comics for the first time?

SK: 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.

TC: Which ones were your favorites?

SK: 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 to it.

For 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 size...

TC: 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 well)

SK: 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.

It 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 a kid...

TC: Looking back over the books now as a professional artist, are there some artists you think worked better/took better advantage of the larger format?

SK: 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.

For 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.

TC: 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?

SK: 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. : )

TC: What are you working on now?

SK:Just 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.

 

KEN 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:



TreasuryComics.com:How did you first land work at Marvel?

Ken 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.

Early 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 .

TC:Did you know at the time what the Wolverine/Hercules story was intended for, or was it done specifically for the treasury book?

KL:I 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.

TC:What gave you the ambitious idea to start your own line of comics?

KL:I 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.

These 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.

TC:These 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?

KL:There 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.

TC:Was it difficult basically starting a whole line from scratch?

KL:I 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 the time.

TC:Were 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 comic?

KL:I 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.

TC:How did you get Neal Adams to contribute?

KL: 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.

I also 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.

TC:Folded? 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?

KL:I 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).

TC:What are you doing now?

KL:I 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 in Action.

 

ERIK 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...



TreasuryComics.com:You're 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?

Erik 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 things ever.

TC:What were some of your favorites?

EL:Superman 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.

TC:Did 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 to admit)

EL:I 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.

TC:What's the treasury-sized book you're working on now? Why treasury-sized?

EL:We're 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.

 

JOHN 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...


TreasuryComics.com:Did you read the treasuries growing up? If so, what were some of your favorites? (other than 2001 and Cap's Bicentennial Battles, I assume!)

John 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, giant-sized.

I thought 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).

DC's 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 by it.

TC:Was 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?

JM:From 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).

TC:What's been the response--either sales or critically--to going to the bigger size? (I, of course, love it!)

JM:I 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!

TC:You've 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?

JM:Since 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.

TC:One 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?

JM:I'd 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.

TC:Do 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 first hand?

JM:All 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.

So 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.

 

KEVIN 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!

Kevin 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!

Once Wednesday Comics ended, I asked Kevin if he wouldn't mind talking to me about his experiences working on the series. He generously agreed:



TreasuryComics.com: Had you heard of the Wednesday Comics series before you got involved with it?

Kevin 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.

TC: 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?

KN: 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.

I don't 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.

TC: 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?

KN: 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.

TC: 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!

KN: The image size is about 17 x 22". Roughly two, standard size originals put together.

TC: 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?

KN: 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.

TC: Did you buy the classic DC and Marvel treasuries as a kid? What were some of your favorites?

KN: 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 lettering.

Superman/Spider-Man, 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.

TC: 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?

KN: 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.

TC: 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?

KN: 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.

TC: 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?

KN: 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.

TC: 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!

KN: 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 book.

 

 

 

JIMMY 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:



TreasuryComics.com: How did you end up writing a strip for Wednesday Comics? Did Mark Chiarello come to you or did you go to him?

Jimmy 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.

TC: Did you have a Supergirl story you wanted to write?

JP: 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 girl.

TC: 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?

JP: 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.

TC: 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?

JP: 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.

TC: 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?

JP: 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.

TC: 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?

JP: 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.

TC: Did you read/enjoy the DC/Marvel treasury comics as a kid?

JP: 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.

TC: 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 out?

JP: 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 days.

TC: Is Aquaman a character you'd ever want to write as a solo star? Have any untold Aquaman stories you'd like to tell?

JP: 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.

TC: Where can I get one of those clam phones Aquaman has?

JP: 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.

TC: 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?

JP: 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.

 

BOB 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:



TreasuryComics.com: Do you know who at DC first had the idea to try the tabloids?

Bob Rozakis: I can't say for sure, but I think Sol Harrison was the driving force behind them.

TC:Were 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)

BR:They 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.

TC:I 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?

BR:Nelson was the one putting them together based on the themes suggested/approved by Carmine, Sol and the editors.

TC:How in the heck did you guys end up doing one, and only one, Dick Tracy comic book?? (One of my favorites!)

BR:Somebody--probably Sol--got a deal on the material. There probably would have been more than one, but I think the sales were very poor.

TC:Why did they eventually go to (mostly) all-new material?

BR:They were making enough money on them to justify paying for new material.

TC:Do you know why DC eventually gave up on them? Were the digests better sellers, as they lasted all the way into the mid 80s?

BR:Sales 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.

TC:Any particular favorites?

BR:The 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 book.

TC:Did DC ever actually make any of the display boxes? Could one, possibly, be "out there" somewhere??

BR:There were "dumps" as we called them for the early ones. The books were actually shipped to the stores in them.

 

RyallCHRIS 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?

RyallCR: 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.

 

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JOE 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:



TreasuryComics.com:What comics did you read growing up?

Joe 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.

TC:Did you want to be a comics artist specifically or did you fall into it?

JS:I 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.

TC:What have been some of your favorite assignments? (other than E-Man, of course :)

JS:Both 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.

TC:How did you end up doing these Gods of Mt. Olympus books?

JS:I 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.

TC:Had you ever done work before this big? Did it affect how you did the pencilling and inking?

JS:That's 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.

TC:The layouts and the storytelling in these books is astounding. That's not a question, I just wanted to say that.

JS:Thanks.

TC:Aside 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?

JS:I 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.

TC:Were there more of these planned if there were financially successful?

JS:We 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.

TC:I 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?

JS:I 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.

TC:You've 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?

JS:The 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.

TC:Anyone you ever wanted to work with but haven't/never got the chance to?

JS:My 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.

TC:Naturally! Any projects you've got coming up you want to mention?

JS:Nick 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.

 

CHRIS 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...



TreasuryComics.com:What gave you the idea to do a treasury-sized Doris comic?

Chris 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 out, basically.

The 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.

If 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.

I loved 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.

So really the decision was obvious to me. This particular book just HAD to be in that oversized format.

TC:Has it sold any better/worse than other DD books?

CW:All 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.

The 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 guess 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.

TC:What was it like being inked by the legendary Dick Ayers?

CW:It 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.

TC:How did you get him and some of the other legends (Gene Colan, Irwin Hasen, John Severin) to participate?

CW:Most 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 book!

I'd 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.

So 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.

I recently 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.

TC:Were the classic Marvel-monster comics your favorite ones growing up?

CW:I 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.

I stopped 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.

TC:Any plans for another DD treasury?

CW:I'm 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 that.

TC:What were your favorite treasury comics you had as a kid?

CW:My earliest comics experiences are the Star Wars treasuries and the Justice League treasury.

I was 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.

I really 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?

I didn't start collecting the oversized books until college, again picking a ton of them up pretty cheaply about ten years ago.

TC:Would you like to see the treasuries come back? Was this your attempt at starting a new/old trend?

CW:It 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.

I wouldn't mind seeing an "absolute edition" of Kirby stories, that's for sure! (That's all most of my favorite old treasuries were, anyways).

TC:Was 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 healing?

CW:Uh oh, you touched on a subject I get pretty belligerent about. I'm an absolute skeptic and believer in science.

Religion, 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 from it.

Science 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 reached.

Religion 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 fit it.

Religion 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.

That 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.

Of course, my Doris Danger comics don't deal with any of this junk. They're fun for Christians and scientists!

TC:Who would you like to see play Doris in a Doris Danger movie?

CW:I 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.

But 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?

 

TOM 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!:



TreasuryComics.com:How did you end up with the job?

Tom 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 very difficult.

TC:Did you ever have any direct contact with Michael Jackson's people? Did they have any control over what you were doing?

TY:I 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.

TC:How 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 in 3-D?

TY:They 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.

TC:Did 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?

TY:It 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.

TC:Was it simply a work-for-hire project or did you ever see royalties from the book?

TY:I 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.

TC:Were you excited over the idea that the book would be reaching a wider audience (i.e. families at Disneyland) than the typical comic book?

TY:Yes 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 3-D movie.

TC:What was a weirder job--drawing Swamp Thing or a space-going Michael Jackson?

TY: Michael Jackson. What, Swamp Thing weird?

 

 
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