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AICN COMICS Q&@: C2E2 Aftermath - Ambush Bug catches up with Steve Christy of Archaia Entertainment!

@@@ What the &#$% is AICN COMICS Q&@? @@@

Q’s by Ambush Bug!

@’s by Archaia’s Steve Christy!!!

Ambush Bug here with the second of a slew of interviews I took at the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo (aka C2E2), which occurred last weekend in Chicago. I’ve been checking in with Archaia for the last few years and they continue to churn out quality stories and some of the best looking books in the industry. Here’s what Publisher Steve Christy had to say when I caught up with him on the first day of the con.

AMBUSH BUG (BUG): All right, this is my second interview at C2E2 and I just got here. So I’m here with Steve Christy. What’s coming up with Archaia in the next couple of months?

STEVE CHRISTY (SC): Steve Christy: Well we have a really big push that we are doing for Free Comic Book Day, which is on May 5th, and we are the only company and the first company to release a hardcover graphic novella for Free Comic Book Day. It’s a 48 page book, six by nine. We’ve got MOUSE GUARD in it, we’ve got LABYRINTH, RUST, CURSED PIRATE GIRL, COWBOY, and THE DAPPER MEN. So we have like the best Archaia creators coming together to do short stories that are brand new that have never been seen before and it’s a hardcover, so you can’t go wrong. You can walk into a comic book store and get a free hardcover graphic novel, which is crazy.

BUGg: On my bookshelf I think I have the most Archaia books, because they look so good up there. (laughs) It makes me look like I have like a professional kind of bookshelf.

SC: That’s awesome.

BUG: Are you continuing with your line of hardcover books?

SC: Yeah, we are. We’ve really kind of been happy the past year with how people have been receiving our new books. We got nominated for five Eisner Awards for TALE OF SAND, which was a huge kind of compliment for all of us, because we all really put our heart and soul into that book and this year we just have some amazing titles coming out. We have the new MOUSE GUARD: THE BLACK AXE is coming out this fall. That’s our big book for the year. We have a beautiful book called CURSED PIRATE GIRL that Jeremy Bastian is doing that’s fantastic, which is going to be out in a few months, and we have another book coming this fall called STRANGE ATTRACTORS by Charles Soule, the writer of TWENTY-SEVEN, that has a phenomenal story. I feel really lucky that every day I get to wake up and work with some of the best creators in the industry. They are really, really good at what they do.

BUG: Definitely. And so are all of those going to be coming out in hardcover, or are they going to be single issues first?

SC: We’ve abandoned single issues. We don’t do any single issues. We actually just announced at this show a new digital first program that we are doing with some of our titles. We are going to be launching them as chapters digitally prior to them coming out in stores, so that’s kind of like our new single issues thing. I mean, it just doesn’t make sense I think for publishers of our size to do single issues anymore, because the market isn’t really there to support that, you know? Image and Dark Horse and IDW to a certain extent are kind of the only…and Dynamite and Boom! in some cases, they can get away with doing single issues, but it just doesn’t really fit our business model. So we are hardcovers first and only. We are going to do more and more paperbacks, but for right now it’s just hardcovers pretty much.

BUG: Cool. Let’s talk a little bit about TALE OF SAND, because it seems like a really special work and it seems like it’s near and dear to your heart. Can you tell me how you guys got a hold of the Jim Henson’s TALE OF SAND? It’s kind of like Jim Henson’s lost unfinished final story, right?

SC: Well, it was a screenplay that Jim wrote with his writing partner, Jerry Juhl, between 1967 and 1974, so before The Muppets really took off and the amazing thing about it is that we found this screenplay in the vaults of the Jim Henson Company and it’s like a peek into the mind of young Jim Henson. The whole book is literally like a peek into what he was thinking and kind of how he was creating as a younger man. So I fell in love with it immediately, because it really shows you a picture of this guy that we all grew up with. We grew up with his creations and it shows how differently he was thinking when he was younger and when he was trying to break in. I mean, he was writing this around the time that every network turned down THE MUPPET SHOW.

BUG: It definitely has that kind of “starving artist” vibe. You really feel like he’s struggling here and really trying to figure out something throughout the whole story. It’s a very surreal experience to read it.

SC: I think Ramon Perez, the artist who did an incredible job on the book and who was nominated for the Eisner for Best Pencil or Inker for his work on the title, he and I talked about that a lot, that it was…the book is about Jim always running, always trying to get to the finish line with never enough time and it’s really about him, so we just felt so lucky that we had the opportunity to take this lost treasure and bring it to life.

BUG: Very cool. I know that you guys are doing like FRAGGLE ROCK from Jim Henson and THE DARK CRYSTAL stuff, is there anything else that’s coming out through the Henson Company?

SC: We are doing LABYRINTH, which is coming together slower than I would like, but it is coming together and it’s going to be a prequel to the movie, which is very exciting. So we are really stoked about that.

BUG: And that’s just in the beginning phases right now?

SC: It’s a little past the beginning phase. It’s just moving slowly, because it’s like we are very careful with how we do these books, because we want to get them right. We are not a company that’s interested in pumping out licensed books or doing a ton. We really want to get them right and make sure that it’s something that’s going to be on people’s bookshelves for years, you know?

BUG: Definitely. What else is going on? I know that every company has their bids for films and things like that. Are you guys working in that direction?

SC: Yeah, I mean we’ve been very lucky. Last summer we sold a film to Fox called RUST, which is based on our book RUST by Royden Lepp, which is a phenomenal title and Royden’s an amazing creator. It was his debut book and right out of the gate he sold it, which is fantastic. We sold LUCID to Warner Brothers this past fall, which is our book that we did with Zachary Quinto’s production company, and then just recently we announced a book of ours called BOLIVAR, which isn’t coming out until next year, also sold to Warner Brothers. So we have two films in development at Warners right now.

BUG: Congratulations.

SC: Thank you. We’ve been pushing it.

BUG: So any announcements here at the con? Or did you just give them?

SC: The digital firsts thing was the big announcement, that we are moving in that direction, which we are really excited about and then beyond that…it’s funny, we usually try not to make big announcements at cons, because it gets lost in the shuffle. We’re just here to sell books and to introduce more people to our stuff. We always have free single issues and posters and bookmarks at our tables and we are hoping that Free Comic Book Day is really the big thing this year.

BUG: I can’t wait to read the Free Comic Book Day novella. DAPPER MEN, I know the first book was really successful. I love that book. It looked beautiful and read beautifully. What’s coming up with that?

SC: We are working on TIME OF THE DAPPER MEN, the sequel, with Janet as we speak. She’s just turning in some amazing work. Yeah, it’s really spectacular.

BUG: Sounds great. Well, I know you’re a native Chicagoan--what’s it like coming back here?

SC: I love this city. I can’t get enough of it. It’s one of the best cities in the world, it really is. There’s such a good energy to it.

BUG: Have you noticed anything different about the con this year?

SC: You know, I like this area. McCormick Place is a good convention center. It’s well lit. It’s just a good feeling con, and it’s pretty early in the show. We’ll see what happens with the rest of it.

BUG: Well best of luck at the con and good talking to you again.

SC: Thanks, Mark.

BUG: Thanks. Look for Archaia’s Hardbound Free Comic Book Day book in stores May 5th and check out their website here for more info on Archaia’s many upcoming projects.

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in October 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released in March 2012.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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