Mike Bullock's career has always been driven by creativity. He began as a musician and was involved in related pursuits until he was thirty, when he shifted his focus to writing. After spending some time in comics journalism, he published, through Image Comics, "Lions, Tigers and Bears," the tale of a young boy whose stuffed animals come to life to protect him from The Beasties." Having quickly established a reputation as a creator of independent, kid-friendly tales, Bullock now brings another project into the Image fold with "Secrets of the Seasons - Volume One: The Gimoles," illustrated by Theo Bain, Michael Mayhew & Bob Pedroza. Bullock sat down with CBR news to talk about who the Gimoles are, where they've been in the publishing world and where they're going in their own world.
"The Gimoles are a family of little green elves who create springtime," said Bullock of his latest graphic novel. "However, in order to do that each year, winter has to end. Mr. Groundhog heralds that time, as we all know. However, this year, Mr. Groundhog has fallen into the clutches of Ichabod Cornelius Frost and it's up to the Gimoles to save him so that he can shut down the machines of winter."
While the Gimoles books follow an elven family, this latest story focuses on a pair of young Gimoles, Limmy and Ohgi. Said Bullock, "Limmy, the dashing young man of the elven set is the first to step to the plate when the call goes out to save Mr. Groundhog. Ohgi, the sensible, resourceful and spirited young lady is the first to answer the call when Limmy gets in over his head."
The villain is the aforementioned Czar of Winter, Frost. "Each year, he gets lazier and lazier and has finally concludes that his life would be far easier if he didn't need to go through the hassle of making winter every year," Bullock explained. "To this end, he rationalizes that by stopping Mr. Groundhog from signaling the end of winter, there will be only one season and he can lie about and enjoy the cold forevermore."
"Secrets of the Seasons: Volume One" represents the completion of a miniseries that was begun in 2005, when the first issue of "The Gimoles" was released by the now-defunct Alias Enterprises. In addition to the previously unreleased remaining issues, the book also includes a bonus short story that originally saw print in the first "Hope" anthology, a Hurricane Katrina benefit book produced by Ronin Studios.
"I blame the Beasties, personally," said Bullock of why it's been so long since The Gimoles have been seen on the stands. "In reality, after the aforementioned defunct publisher went under, Theo Bain, the original 'Gimoles' artist, left the book for, dare I say, greener pastures. Replacing someone as talented as Theo proved to be much harder than it seems. Thankfully, story editor Ron Marz introduced me to Michael Metcalf, who quickly turned in some wonderful Gimole sketches. Eric Stephenson at Image had already graciously offered to publish the trade, so soon after Michael was finished with the book, we brought it back to the elven faithful."
The title, "Secrets of the Seasons," belies a greater story to be told beyond just the current collection. Said Bullock "'Secrets of the Seasons' is the name of the larger property that Gimoles exists within. There are four books planned, one for each season." The first volume covers springtime.
The rebranding of the property with the "Secrets of the Seasons" title reflects an evolution of the story Bullock sought to tell. "When I first created the Gimoles," Bullock said, "all I had was a poem describing them and their tasks. At first, I wanted to do the story as a sort of hybrid comic/story book, but was told by all sorts of people I was crazy and that no one would ever buy such an oddity. All things being equal, right after I decided to run with a straight comic book format, Disney released 'Abadazad' in the same hybrid format, proving my detractors wrong."
Bullock continued, "Once I decided to do this as a comic, I really got into the world building and uncovered all the other beings that exist within the 'Secrets of the Seasons' mythology. With characters like Caliday- the Sultan of Summer, and Mageddo Niffle - Father of the Autumn Elves, I knew I needed to pull back and place The Gimoles story within the larger framework."
The creator also took some time to discuss how he originated the concept. Said Bullock, "A long time ago, I was at a friend's house in March. I was sitting at his window, waiting for him to finish helping his grandmother with some chores so we could go out. To properly set up what happens next, I must inform you that my friend was very slight of build, with ears that were just the slightest bit pointy. His grandmother, being of the same genetic stock, had a similar physique.
"While I sat there gazing out the window, the two went out into the backyard and over by their garden. Within minutes, they had moved the last of the melting snow away from the planting rows and had begun turning the soil. I watched as they planted some seeds and watered it down. At that point, it struck me that I was watching two elves prepare the garden for spring."
With inspiration having clearly struck, Bullock wasted no time. "I immediately turned around, grabbed paper and pen and authored the poem entitled 'The Gimoles.'"
The storyteller scarcely intends to go another three years between publication of the tales of the world the Gimoles inhabit, and has plans for more than just further stories about the seasons. "I've been speaking with Franchesco about creating another story around Yeema the Diva, the Gimole who teaches all the baby songbirds how to sing," Bullock revealed. "In addition, I'm looking for another artist to help bring the story of Caliday, The Sultan of Summer to life in volume two. Then I'll focus on Mageddo for the third volume and Frost for the fourth."
"Secrets of the Seasons - Volume One: The Gimoles" reaches store shelves June 11.
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