Critically Acclaimed "Elk's Run" Finds Home with Random House's Villard

It's been a long and often times arduous journey for writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and his title "Elk's Run." CBR News first brought you word of the title back in December, 2004. The book tells story of a small town in West Virginia and the war that erupts between the children and parents when a horrible truth is revealed, which tears apart this quiet little community. Fialkov and artist Noel Tuazon began by self-publishing the book through Fialkov's own Hoarse & Buggy Productions, but as anyone who's ever self-published a book knows, it's not easy to get noticed. The book was critically lauded by many top creators in the comics industry, but still it wasn't quite finding its audience.

So, a decision was made to move the publishing duties over to Speakeasy Comics last year. A change to an up-and-coming publisher with better position in the Previews Catalog should have brought in a whole new audience for the book. That would have been all well and good, but a series of delays from the publisher hurt the book's chance of building a fan base, but that wasn't the worst of it. In February of this year, Speakeasy closed its doors and this critically acclaimed title found itself without a home and unfinished. All this despite the book seeing high praise from the likes of "Entertainment Weekly" and "Variety."

What followed was a couple of months of uncertainty, but then on June 1st Fialkov got his first bit of "Elk's Run" good news in months - the book had been nominated for seven Harvey Awards. But the good news doesn't end there. The entire "Elk's Run" story will finally have a chance to be told and in one volume. Villard, a division of Random House Publishing, will collect the complete eight-issue series, giving readers their first opportunity to read the entire story.

CBR News caught up with Fialkov to get the low-down on the happy ending to the very challenging publishing history "Elk's Run" has faced.

"After much hand wringing and searching high and low, we finally have a home," Fialkov told CBR News of his deal with Villard. "It's nice to finally have the book somewhere that's going to treat it properly and get it into people's hands."

As Fialkov understands it, "Elk's Run" was quite popular around the Los Angeles offices of Random House, which sparked their interest in the title. "I had a meeting sometime last year with Dallas Middaugh, who has since become Associate Publisher of Del Rey Manga, and we really hit it off," said Fialkov. "At the time, we had just signed our deal with Speakeasy, and the gild was already coming quickly off the lily. Dallas had discovered the book at a local store (probably Meltdown Comics in Hollywood) and was appalled at what had been going on with the book on the business end. As things with Speakeasy began to crumble, Dallas was very vocal about his interest in the book, and once the end of Speakeasy was announced, he was more than ready to take up the challenge."

In speaking with Middaugh, he told Fialkov that one of Random House's main goals with their graphic novel initiative was to get sequential fiction of all types into readers hands and "Elk's Run" certainly fit into that mix. "'Elk's Run' is a book that, unfortunately, didn't have a mass appeal with the comics audience (although, we have some massively loyal and vocal fans in the direct market.) But, between the great reviews (both from the comics and mainstream press), our recent spate of Harvey nominations, and just the nature of the subject matter, the book seems to have an appeal to your average book reader."

Fialkov is excited that the full "Elk's Run" story can finally be told. Hopefully, getting that entire story out there will make all the publishing frustrations he's experienced melt away. "It literally breaks my heart in two not being able to deliver the individual issues to our fans because that is how the book was conceived, written, and executed, but, at the end of the day, we're up against a wall in terms of just making sure that people actually get to read the whole thing," said Fialkov. "The gang at Villard have been our knights on white horses in that respect. I believe the book is scheduled to be published in the spring of 2007, and it's going to be over 200 pages of story, plus, we're hoping quite a bit of extras. It's going to, of course, be in gorgeous full color, presented about the size of a standard bookstore Trade Paperback."

With all that Fialkov's been through with "Elk's Run" you have to wonder if he ever considered just throwing his hands up in the air and screaming "I give up," with a few expletives thrown in for good measure. Fialkov admits life has been very challenging over the past couple of years, but "Elk's Run" was a labor of love that helped keep him on the right track. "On top of all the publishing problems, I've had quite a few semi-serious health problems, some really daunting financial troubles, and to top it all off, when things looked their darkest, my long-time girlfriend decided to move on to greener pastures. To be honest, as I looked down the barrel of all of that, the one thing that kept me focused and even-headed was my absolute need to get this book out and into people's hands no matter what happened.

"My guys killed themselves to get the book done, and despite the mishandling by Speakeasy, the drying up of funds of my own business, and all of the other things, they never once questioned finishing their work," continued Fialkov. "The very least I owe them is to make sure their work is appreciate appropriately. Noel, Scott, both Jason's, Datsun, and Chris each did whatever it would take to see the book complete, and as I'm doing the final proofing on the book right now, I have to say, I literally could not be prouder. I'm heart-sore that it's going to take so long for everyone to see it, but, I know that it's going to be worth the wait, just for the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into literally every single page."

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