Joel Rose was the first guy to publish me--way back in the day when he was running a literary mag out of a tenement on the Lower East Side. Years later, while I was still slinging steaks, still standing next to a deep fryer, he was the first guy to see the possibilities in a book of stories about the restaurant business (Kitchen Confidential). We've stayed friends and in touch, whatever's happening in our lives, thick and thin, over the last 30 years. He knew that I'm a comic book guy and one-time collector (early Eisner, Caniff, early ‘60s Marvels, ‘50s E.C.s, the golden age of Undergrounds). I knew that he's actually worked in the graphic novel field, having written and edited some pioneering stuff for Paradox Press like LA PACIFICA (with Amos Poe) --and worked on A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE and others. I've always loved his books: Kill The Poor, Kill Kill Faster Faster, and The Blackest Bird.
So when he called me up and said "let's do a graphic novel together," it took about ten seconds to say… "Hell, yeah!" What red-blooded overgrown, middle-aged boy wouldn't work on a graphic novel--given the opportunity? I figured there would be food. It's what I know--and worked with for 30 years. I'm a big admirer of the hyper-wonky Japanese manga series Oishinbo, and I thought right away about combining that level of accuracy about food preparation and cookingwith the sort of lurid violence and beautifully inked bloodletting that I always like to see when reading a comic book.
Joel and I talked about many of the things we loved: the artists, writers and films who've influenced and excited us over the years. And we threw a lot of them into the blender, added a dash of Red Harvest, spent a lot of time looking for the perfect artist to execute this food- and bodily-fluid-spattered fever dream--and GET JIRO was born. Our guiding principles were at all times "Let no man question our recipe for blanquette de veau--or our pot au feu " and "Let's make the violence really cool." In this, I think we have succeeded.
One thing I’d like to clarify. As I remember it, I didn’t call Tony with the idea to do a graphic novel together. For a number of years at Thanksgiving he would corner me and say, “You know what would be really cool? I have this idea …”
If you missed it, Anthony Bourdain, best selling author and host of the Travel Channel's "No Reservations," was on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" to discuss his new Vertigo graphic novel, GET JIRO! Co-written by Joel Rose, with art by Langdon Foss and colored by Jose Villarrubia, GET JIRO! is on sale later this month. You can watch the full video here.
When I started working on Sweet Tooth three years ago I thought I’d be lucky if the series made it ten issues. I never dreamed I’d be able to tell the kind of sprawling, 40-issue epic that it ended up becoming. In many ways Sweet Tooth’s likelihood of survival in the competitive comics market was about as great as Gus’ likelihood of survival in the post-apocalyptic world he inhabits. After all, who would have bet on a weird little book about a boy with antlers ever surviving in a market flooded with blockbuster cape and tight titles? But somehow it did. Because of my incredibly loyal fans and the a lot of hard work from collaborators like Matt Kindt, Nate Powell, Emi Lenox and, of course, my closest and most valued teammate, the great Jose Villarrubia, Sweet Tooth survived.
So why end it now? I want to make one thing really clear…Sweet Tooth is not being cancelled. The decision to end it at #40 is entirely my choice. Truth is, I always knew what the ending of Sweet Tooth would be. It was one of the first ideas I came up with when writing the pitch for the book. The beginning and the end of this story were always pretty much written in stone, it was the middle bit that was fluid, and grew and changed as I went along. So, for me it’s incredibly gratifying to finally get to the end of the journey with Gus and Jepperd. Everything I’ve done with the series so far, everything I’ve built month after month, has all been about this, the final story.
I suppose I could have stretched it out a bit longer. I could have had a few more obstacles pop up along the way to Alaska to lengthen the journey (and the series), but it just felt like it was time. Gus wanted to get to Alaska now…and who am I to argue? I’ll miss my little antlered friend. But I owe it to him to finish his story properly. To “leave it all on the ice” as they like to say up here in Canada. And that means not prolonging the series just because I can.
But don’t give up on me. I really feel the best is still to come. The final arc, THE WILD KINGDOM, will be full of everything you’ve loved about Sweet Tooth as well asmany new surprises, new characters and new revelations. And it all builds to one final double sized, fully painted final issue with #40 this December.
(cover of SWEET TOOTH #36 the beginning of The Wild Kingdom)
And then what? Well, stay posted, because the future holds new adventures, new stories and new ideas from Jose Villarrubia and I!
May 4, 2012
For those of you who aren't nearby a comics shop, GONE TO AMERIKAY landed in bookstores today. So be sure to check out this beautifully written and gorgeous to gaze upon graphic novel!
For all you Americans reading this, we all share the universality of being immigrants. And though GONE TO AMERIKAY tells the story of three generations of Irish emigres, the appeal of these characters and their struggles is all something we can relate to. Derek McCulloch brings turn of the last century New York City to vivid life, as well as the swinging '60s and the present day. Artist Colleen Doran's gloriously detailed and heavily researched art will leave you mesmerized, as it did me. And Jose Villarrubia's colors are totally exquisite.
Check out below Colleen's test piece of art which accompanied the proposal.
The winners of The 2011 Harvey Awards were announced this weekend at the Baltimore Comic-Con. DC Entertainment took home awards for the following DC Comics and Vertigo titles.
Best New Series: AMERICAN VAMPIRE by Scott Snyder, Stephen King and Rafael Albuquerque
Best Single Issue or Story: DAYTRIPPER by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon
Best Colorist: Jose Villarrubia for CUBA: MY REVOLUTION by Inverna Lockpez and Dean Haspiel
Best Original Graphic Publication for Young Readers:TINY TITANS by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani.
Congratulations to all the winners! The full list of nominees can be found on the Harvey Awards website.
More than I decade ago my friend Stephen John Phillips suggested that we collaborate in the artwork for a new graphic novel, a fumetti about a harem. I did not know that this would be the beginning of a long work relationship with Vertigo. Of course, I had been aware of the imprint since its inception and enjoyed the bulk of its titles, as I matter of fact I used to buy all of the books that Vertigo published! But I was not sure if there would be other projects after this first one∑ Well, lo and behold, there have been many!
I ended up coloring the (mis) adventures of Japanese teenagers, a biting satire of the American wars, and a riveting autobiographical story about Castro's Cuba. Now I find myself practically married to the post apocalyptic tale of a young boy with antlers! My friend Jeff Lemire has crafted a modern classic and I am honored to be a part of it. Like my dear first comics collaborator, Jae Lee, Jeff knows how to let the artwork breathe, how to let the color tell the story and not dictate every detail that happens on each page. These things make the coloring process delightful. He also gives me free reign with the color choices, making broad suggestions but allowing me to divert from them if I think it necessary. I really feel that I contribute to the narrative with expressive chromatic notes, emphasizing (or deemphasizing) sequencences according to their emotional content. Jeff is a very effective storyteller in black and white, as a matter of fact I cannot imagine Essex County in color, but I also cannot imagine Sweet Tooth in black and white.
THREE OF MY FAVORITE PAGES FROM THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER Vol. 2: EASY KILL (on sale March 17 in comic stores and everywhere books are sold March 23) by writer Josh Dysart
The title of this post isn't totally accurate. It was impossible for me to pick three pages that were my absolute favorites. Both Alberto Ponticelli and Pat Masioni produced so many wonderfully vibrant and dramatic images that it took me all day just to decide on the three I have here. In doing so I turned my back on some truly magical moments in this book. But here's my best shot at it anyway. I can only hope you see them for what they are. Three little pills... gateway drugs to a book that's out there on the shelves now, a book filled with 191 pages of beautiful comic book goodness.
Issue 7, Page 3/Volume 2 Page 9
I know this isn't the most visually stylish page you'll find in our trade, but I love it a lot. Why? Because I miss east Africa. I miss it with all my heart. And once and a while Alberto and I find some space in our racing narrative to take a deep breath and show it. Really show the truth of everyday life there. Here Alberto accurately paints a a picture of modern, urban Africa. The kind of image we rarely get to see in our media. A bustling town on a Friday night. Kids having a glorious time in a raging Kampala discotheque. The text on top explores the differences between the rural ethnic groups and the urban ones, and then that last panel brings it all home. This is not only one of my favorite pages, but Issue seven, titled BETWEEN HERE AND THERE, is one of my favorite single issue comic books I've ever written. This page is wonderfully colored by Oscar Celestini.
Issue 9, Page 17/Volume 2 Page 67
Here it is. This is a muted pallet "dream" panel, as Moses weighs the wight of killing a celebrity to bring attention to the war in Northern Uganda. This page sums up the idea of the entire story arc, but it was a last minute addition and the product of intense and pure collaboration. Pornsak Pichetshote, my fearless and amazing editor, kept saying we needed to sell the idea of the arc more. We weren't quite communicating how Moses could take this idea of killing a celebrity seriously enough. I think we were maybe about three drafts into the script for Issue 9 before we came up with this page. Often it's the simplest answers that elude you the most. Would you, Moses, rather kill an endless sea of children? Or one rich woman. What is a life worth, and who are these celebrities we value so much more than the nameless, faceless victims of tragedy around the world? Again, beautifully colored by Oscar Celestini.
Issue 13, Page 16/Volume 2 Page 160
Pat Masioni (the first African Cartoonist published by a North American Comic book company) did the art chores on the last two issues in the trade and brought something to this book that Alberto or I never could. A distinctive cultural style. When you couple that with Jose Villarrubia's magic colors, which seem to convey the light of equatorial Africa more truly than any attempt at realism ever could, and the reoccurring theme in our book of children using art therapy to overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, you get the start of one of my favorite sequences in the whole book. The story of Paul's abduction by the LRA and subsequent march to the Sudan training camps. This sequence is the closest to reporting the absolute realities of the conflict, free of any artifice, that this series has ever gotten.
The art in this book is wonderful. It's all so visceral and genuine and stylish. I can honestly say that the second Unknown Soldier trade is the work I'm most proud of to date. It's meaty and rich and sprawling and novelistic and I can't help but feel that Alberto and Pat and Oscar and Jose and I have managed to really do something amazing. I hope you give it a shot.
Thanks for reading.
Final files are rolling in from Jose Villarrubia for Inverna Lockpez’s and Dean Haspiel’s CUBA: MY REVOLUTION, each page colored directly from pencils. It’s a beautiful stylistic departure for Dino, who’s dubbed the color scheme “a cross between Preston Sturges and I Love Lucy.” Now that’s a Valentine’s Day sneak peek waiting to happen — so, here you go!
We decided at the beginning that this would be a two-color book. That decision’s always the easy part. Picking the colors is harder. As we all learned in art class, black’s a color. So we’d need to stick with black and another color — or two colors and no black line at all.
On the one hand, CUBA is a dark political thriller set in the early years of Castro’s regime, as seen through the eyes of an idealistic young woman who falls out of love with the revolution’s turn to Soviet Communism. On the other, it’s a story set in the tropical light of the Caribbean, just as the revolution suspends Cuba in time, preserving it in the colors of the 1960s. So…what to do? We considered black and red, but that seemed too obvious. Too easy. Surely we could tinker around and come up with something else. Idealists.
I’m not gonna show you those results. Take my word for it, I’m doing you a favor. They weren’t working. One scheme made the book look like Christmas in the tropics. Another made it look like…a banana. Of course, Jose was the one who finally put us back on track. One of the best colorists in the business, he dragged us back to the original black-and-red scheme, and showed us how it could become a thousand different colors in two. And we fell in love — as will you, when this hits stores in September.