If the comic book industry were based on John Hughes movies of the 1980s, then the Shadowline imprint of Image Comics would be "The Breakfast Club" of the bunch. There's the brain (Dwight L. MacPherson), the athlete (Juan Ferreyra), the basket case (Jimmie Robinson), the princess (Fernanda Chiella), and the criminal (take your pick from the rest, but my money is on Manny Trembley). Heck, they even have the principal to keep the kids at bay in the form of Jim Valentino, the founder of Shadowline.
Much like those troubled students from the movie, this group of comics creators is a very diverse bunch, both in terms of their whereabouts around the globe as well as in regard to their experience in creating comics.With styles and stories that vary from "all-ages" to "definitely-not-safe-for-work" there's surely something to be found at Shadowline for even the most finicky of comic readers.
CBR News sat down with the entire crew from every title Shadowline will release over the coming months, and editor extraordinaire Kristen Simon and Jim Valentino stopped in for a little face time to help spice things up.
Or maybe it was just to make sure no one was goofing off….
|"The Collected normalman," on sale July 11|
What can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
Jim Valentino: "The Complete normalman" is 432 pages of black and white goodness reprinting every page, cover and piece of normalman art we could find all in one package. There is also "Drawing From Life," with the first issue out already and second issue at the end of the year. It's an autobio comic, and not for the faint of heart.
Dwight MacPherson: "The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo" follows the adventures of the enigmatic Edgar Allan Poo and his faithful guide Irving the rat as they battle mythical beasts, ancient gods, magical ravens, sorcerers, the undead, inclement weather and treacherous terrain to escape the land of dreams. It is created and written by yours truly, illustrated by the phenomenal Thomas Boatwright and lettered by Thomas Mauer. Volume One will be released in August and features a dazzling front cover by David Hartman and rear cover by Grant Bond. The book is 96 oversized pages -- no filler. And, as an added incentive, the "Eight Lost Pages of Poo" will be contained in this volume as well. Fans of the webcomic will find out what happened between pages two and three of the online version, and this special bonus material will only be available in the graphic novel.
Thomas Boatwright: As Dwight mentioned, I do the full art for "Edgar Allan Poo." I do sort of a pen and ink/water color style in Photoshop.
Howard Wong: For me it would be the "After the Cape" trade paperback [which I wrote], hitting shops this September. I'll pause so you can mark your calendars. It will have all three issues [of the sold-out mini], as well as "behind the scenes" extras.
Marco Rudy: ["After the Cape" artist]: That means 30 pages of extra material! Sketches, unseen proposal pages and an inside look at the evolution of the story.
Howard Wong: Exactly. You'll get to see how everyone works collectively at bringing "After the Cape" together from beginning to end, which hopefully will de-mystify how a comic comes together.
Christopher Long: "Ward of the State," a three-issue miniseries (the first two issues are already on the stands) that has been described as "disturbing," "not for the squeamish," and "takes time to process." It's a story of foster children who are contract killers. I actually think it's the best comic I've ever written, but that's just me. Then there's "Hiding In Time," a four-issue mini slated to drop in July, and it deals with a Witness Protection Program that relocates people throughout time. For years, I've always wanted to tell a story that deals with time travel, and I'm glad Shadowline gave me the opportunity to do it.
Ryan Winn: I'm the artist on "Hiding In Time." And I'll remind you that, as Chris mentioned, it drops in July.
Mike Cavallaro: "Parade (with Fireworks)" is a two-issue series [written and drawn by me] hitting in September. It's based on a true story about my grandfather, Paolo. It takes place in Italy, in 1923, when the newly formed Fascist Party was solidifying their control of the country. For many, there was a sense of mounting tension, and seemingly normal social interactions took on a greater significance. Given this climate, even the slightest spark could cause things to erupt. I grew up hearing these stories from my relatives. It's fascinating for so many reasons. Here was this timeless countryside and ancient way of life that was about to get engulfed in something enormous and never exist again in quite the same way. If so, "Parade" is the first ripple of that wave.
Juan Ferreyra: I'm doing a 3-issue miniseries called "Lazarus," I do all of the art and I co-write it with an old friend of mine, Diego Cortes. It's about a regular guy that finds out he is not so regular! After someone assassinates him, he discovers he has the ability to resurrect himself from the dead…
[It's at this point that Kristen Simon steps in and twists Juan's arm behind his back to prevent him from revealing every little spoiler of a detail about his comic]
Juan Ferreyra: …Ok, then he has to figure out who is trying to kill him, why they are trying to kill him…and who he really is.
Fernanda Chiella: "In Her Darkest Hour" was originally made for a college project some time ago, so I'm re-touching the art to update it. It's a 26-page story about a woman dealing with depression and suicide, and it's due out in August.
Manny Trembley: ("Sam Noir," "PX!" co-writer, artist): First in the queue is our "Sam Noir: Volume 1" TPB which collects the first two "Sam" series into one six-issue volume. Now in Stab-O-Vision.
Eric A. Anderson: ("Sam Noir," "PX!" co-writer): Then in August we have "PX!" Book One. Two long years in the making, this 168-page tome of wisdom chronicles the story of a girl and her cybernetic panda. It started life as our online web comic thing, and now it's sprouted little print wings, thanks to Shadowline.
Jimmie Robinson: "Bomb Queen," and then also "Bomb Queen." And, let me think.... oh yeah, there's "Bomb Queen." If I blink my eyes in a pattern, will you pick up the S.O.S. signal? But I have an upcoming project for life after the Bomb. It's an all-ages title that I plan to release as a graphic novel. I'm also tempted to open the archives and rework, repackage and reproduce some of my older Image stuff into trade paperbacks. That seems to be the hot ticket nowadays.
What does that "Shadowliine" logo on the cover of your comic mean to you?
Ryan Winn: A darker brew with richer flavor.
Dwight MacPherson : Integrity, professionalism and experience. And, ultimately, it is an icon for Jim Valentino himself. I don't need to tell anyone of Jim's accomplishments in his storied years as a creator, businessman and industry leader. So to have a symbol that represents Jim on your book says to me that this modern comic book legend has invested his faith and reputation in me as a creator. What greater honor or compliment could possibly be bestowed upon a creator than that?
Mike Cavallaro: It means having a group of creative and experienced people to bounce ideas off of and to help with all the difficult and sometimes unexpected aspects of comics publishing. I've self-published for many years. My first time out, I realized that drawing my first issue was the easy part. Printing and distribution were two more full-time jobs to tackle. It's hard to overstate what a help it is to have experienced people taking the ball at that point and running with it.
Chee: ("Ward of the State" artist): For me it means more exposure. And a chance to work with Jim and Kris (Simon).
Christopher Long: It's Jim's stamp of approval, and that's a big deal to me!
Thomas Boatwright: Having that appear on the front of a book I'm doing means that book has to be up to a standard of professionalism --- both for the creative team and the editors. It also means a good start to my professional cartooning career.
Fernanda Chiella: A helluva good way to start, I'd say! I've never expected that my first official publication would be under a big label. I'm honored to have been picked by Jim and Kris, and I just hope I'm worth it.
Jimmie Robinson: This one is complicated for me, because I've been here off and on since Shadowline was re-launched. I'm talking over a decade of working with Image and Shadowline. So, without getting all personal about it, let's say the Iogo represents a part of my career.
Marco Rudy: It means opportunity.
Manny Trembley: Cash Money.
Eric A. Anderson: And integrity. Cash and integrity.
Howard Wong: It means that I'm one lucky son of a bitch to be working with Jim and Kris, and be in the same company with such amazing talent.
Juan Ferreyra: It means not finding yourself so lonely in an industry where you are alone all the time! I know there are some other artists working on other titles and you can rely on them and they can rely on you, ike a little community, a sect, a brotherhood, maybe even like being in the mob! Also, I do get a lot of help from Jim and Kris.
How did you come to get your start at Image and Shadowline?
Juan Ferreyra: I first met Kris when she and (writer) Jason Rand approached me to do art for "Small Gods," which was approved by Jim when he was the publisher of Image Central. When it was cancelled, Jim offered us the opportunity to do a new series for him, which was "Emissary." I also helped here and there with covers, coloring and doing some pages for "ShadowHawk."
Christopher Long: I was contacted to take over the writing duties for "Emissary." Jim and Kris told me they'd be willing to look at any pitches I shot their way, so I sent them two: "Ward of the State" and "Hiding In Time."
Ryan Winn: Chris, who is not only the series creator and writer, but also an old chum, called me up and asked if I would do some samples for "Hiding in Time." Jim and Kris liked them, so here I am!
Chee: Chris and I had always wanted to work together on something. "Ward of the State" and Shadowline gave us that opportunity.
Marco Rudy: The great miracle of the internet, luck, Howard Wong, and Kris Simon -- in that exact order.
Howard Wong: I was a "Small Gods" fan, which Kris was editing. She got me to join the Shadowline message boards after its cancellation. [NOTE: Howard was a regular on the "Small Gods" forum on the Image Comics website.] That led me to hire her as my submission editor for "After the Cape." Yes, Kristen freelances. Don't ask where she finds the time to do it. After we got our stuff together it was submitted to Jim and here I am with my first published comic book.
Thomas Boatwright: I was already doing the weekly "Poo" web comic with Dwight and Thomas Mauer. Dwight submitted it to publishers until we got an offer we all liked.
Dwight MacPherson: Kris dug what we submitted, (maybe because I followed the Shadowline submission guidelines?), passed it along to Jim and here we are. Now they couldn't get rid of us if they wanted to. But they don't want to -- right Jim and Kris? Right?
Kris Simon: We love you all like stepchildren. I got my start at Shadowline by getting to know Jim through the numerous rejection letters he sent me for my failed proposals. I think he was very relieved to accept "Small Gods" and not have to reject me for a fifth time!
Mike Cavallaro: I was serializing "Parade" weekly on a comics website called ACT-I-VATE, and archiving my pages on my ComicSpace website. As far as I can tell, Kristen Simon stumbled across the comic there and contacted me.
Kris Simon: I was on the prowl for new books. ComicSpace is a goldmine!
Jimmie Robinson: I was self-publishing, then after eight issues I decided to stop, give up, and figure it all out. I created an official press release that stated my company would cease publication. But In the next three days I had several responses -- condolences and stuff like that. One of them was Valentino, who basically said, "Don't put that pencil down, just come over here." So mine was the Jesus model; I died and was resurrected three days later.
Fernanda Chiella: Jimmie Robinson saw my work on ComicSpace and snitched on me to Jim and Kris. Hmm…which probably means I owe the guy some Zimas.
Eric A. Anderson: After working on "PX!" for a year and a half, we decided to try and get a "real" book published, so we pitched an idea to Jim and Kris, which they promptly rejected.
Manny Trembley: They kept the door open for other pitches, so we sent them the idea for "Sam Noir," and that one they actually bit on.
Eric A. Anderson: When we're getting our Oscars for "The Most Awesomest Film Trilogy Ever Directed By Peter Jackson," we'll be sure and include the Shadowline crew in our acceptance speech.
Manny Trembley: Right. Or we'll be warming ourselves next to a hobo campfire fueled by copies of our books. Either way, it's all thanks to Jim and Kris.
How has your experience been so far in regards to working under the Shadowline banner?
Howard Wong: It's been demanding and challenging, but in a positive way. Jim and Kris push you to do your very best and I think it shows in the work. You hear a lot of things, but it's best to experience things for yourself to find the truth of it all.
Fernanda Chiella: Well, it's the first time I'm getting published; everything is new. So far, Jim and Kris have been great to me and I've learned a lot.
Marco Rudy: I'm very new to all this, so I've never heard anything prior to working on a Shadowline title and, as I said before, it was a real good learning experience. It is something that made my art evolve. I can credit Kris and Jim for pushing me and motivating me to achieve better and better results. I have no complaints whatsoever!
Dwight MacPherson: Thus far, it has been an extremely enjoyable and rewarding experience. I've worked with several other publishers in my short career, but Shadowline is the first publisher I've worked with that really makes me feel wanted and appreciated as a creator. As far as major benefits as compared to other publishers, Jim and Kris are always readily available to me and my team. But what really stands out is the fact that Jim and Kris provide invaluable assistance with PR. If you ask any creator what takes up most of his or her time, they will undoubtedly say, "Getting the word about my book out there." And I can vouch for the truth of this statement. With Shadowline's assistance, I can concentrate more on writing and researching. And that's priceless.
Christopher Long: It's been very rewarding. Both Jim and Kris are there to make sure the creators tell the best stories possible, which I can't even begin to convey how much that's saved my ass!
Ryan Winn: Overall it has been a great learning experience. Jim and Kris' guidance has been priceless. The things I learned from creating just the first issue have opened my eyes dramatically. They call me on something if it sucks, but they will also encourage and push me to really bring out my best. I may be butt-kissy, but I'm honest!
Chee: I still work in "independent publishing."But I love Kris' weekly updates of our individual projects. And the Shadowline team keeps us in-the-know with what's happening with our books and I find that refreshing and awesomely awesome!And like I said before, having the Shadowline team behind our book certainly allowed us more exposure and more 'connections' with industry people.
Thomas Boatwright: It's still early, but so far it's been really good. It's still creator-owned, but there are just enough limits and guidelines to keep us going in the right direction.
Juan Ferreyra: So far it has been great. They are a bunch of really nice people, very professional and supportive. They like to drink beer, which is also a good thing. However. I don't know why they let Jimmie and his Zima stink the imprint. I guess they know what they are doing!
Jimmie Robinson: I don't know. Honestly. I've been breaking the rules since I started in comics. I was part of those "stories" in indie publishing. When I came to Image I didn't change much. Valentino takes aspirin and a shot of Whiskey every time he opens my email. The major benefit I've had is that I'm still allowed to work with Image after all the cock-ups I've had over the years. Seriously, I've had more ups and downs than a pony on a merry-go-round.
Eric A. Anderson: The experience has been great. It's been really educational and eye-opening.
Manny Trembley: To be honest, if it weren't for Shadowline, we wouldn't be being published at all, except for on the web, because we have no idea what we're doing.
Mike Cavallaro: I got my start in comics working with Jim Shooter and Bob Layton at Valiant Comics in the early 90's. My working relationship with Shadowline is pretty new at this stage, but so far it's just been a great opportunity that seemed to drop out of nowhere. It's really gratifying just to have other professionals interested in and supportive of what you're doing.
Just how much has Kristen Simon meant to you? Is she as merciless as everyone says?
Jim Valentino: No, she's worse.
Kris Simon: Ha! I learned from the best, you know. Man, I know exactly how I treat each one of these guys, so it'll be interesting to see how tactfully they answer.
Chee: She's a darling. Anyone who says anything else obviously has their pants on fire. Hahahaha.
Marco Rudy: She is what she needs to be, when she needs to be it. Merciless when needed, motivating when needed, nothing more, nothing less! She gets scary sometimes, but do as you should and you get to see her be her cool self again.
Christopher Long: I'm going to be brutally honest: Jim is the bad cop, and Kris is the good cop. Not to say that they don't change roles from time to time. I've witnessed Kris being the bad cop … ouch! Kris is a great storyteller, and she pushes me to tell the best story possible.
Dwight MacPherson: Kris helped me secure an appointment to the Order of Skull and Bones and an honorary degree from Miskatonic University. This young woman has ties to the very command center of the universe. Don't be fooled by her youthful, genial appearance!
In all seriousness, Kris has been extremely helpful to me and the team. Always available, Kris provides timely and helpful responses to our most difficult questions. And believe me -- there are always questions. It's been nice to actually count on an editor to offer such professional assistance with patience and grace.
Juan Ferreyra: Well, I guess without her I wouldn't be writing this, because she was the one who told Jason to select me to draw "Small Gods." And yeah, she is merciless and even worse in person, but luckily she is on my side… or so I hope!
Thomas Boatwright: This interview is the first time I've interacted directly with her. For now I'll just have to go by the stories and say I'm still very frightened.
Ryan Winn: Kristen is great about keeping us on target, something a lot of editors don't do these days, which I really appreciate. At least that is what she told me to say….
Jimmie Robinson: She works behind-the-scenes more than directly with me, as story editor. She is constantly there with weekly updates, progress reports, data from Image Central, and scheduling -- which I'm always behind on. She takes the fat off my bloated solicitations and catches my spelling and grammar. She interfaces with Image Central. She's great. I'd ask even more of her, but that's not fair.
Howard Wong: If she were a wrestler, her special move would be called the "deadline." Heh. Honestly Kris has put up with all of my newbie crap and I can't thank her enough for it. I bet there are some sessions with acupuncture needles with my name on it. Kristen goes the distance in helping you out with every aspect of the creative process, as well as representing your best interests on the internet and elsewhere. I know she gets flak for it from time to time, but she's one tough lady who tells it straight and that's something I respect.
Fernanda Chiella: I agree with Howard on the "newbie crap'"and add my bad English crap to it as well. It's always cool to see one of us chicks kicking ass. Even if it means she could be kicking my ass. Kris has been pretty fair when it comes to that. It's her job, and someone's got to be the bad cop/parent sometimes, or else it would just be a big mess.
Manny Trembley: Kris deserves better than us hooligans. She pretty much went to bat for every single project we pitched. And by bat, I mean she actually wrestled a giant rabid bat.
Eric A. Anderson: I heard that if you say Kris Simon's name three times fast while standing in front of a mirror, that she will appear and edit your scripts for you. And sometimes, when the moon is full she appears on hilltops to stalk the elusive typo.
Mike Cavallaro: I'm terrified of Kristen. She has my pet bunny held prisoner, and says I can have Fluffy back if I meet all my deadlines. Hi Fluffy. I miss you.
Kris Simon: Fluffy no longer remembers you. Don't worry though…it's better this way.
Jim Valentino is like the Thomas Jefferson of Image Comics, since he's one of the founding fathers. Do any of you actually reflect on that before you turn in your next script or finished pages?
Kris Simon: When I first started interacting with him, I did. I squealed like a schoolgirl every time I got an e-mail from him. True story. Image got me back into reading comics after a very long absence. When I told him that, he got all weirded out.
Chee: Yeah. I used to read every single Image comic and "ShadowHawk" was no exception.It was early on when I was still working out the designs of the characters when I realized I was working with the guy who created ShadowHawk!It's sort of like working with the Wizard of Oz, you know? Something I never thought would be possible because it's that thing way, way over and beyond the rainbow.
Howard Wong: No, I reflect about Thomas Jefferson. Doesn't everybody? I respect Jim and because of that I strive to do my very best work for him. He has over 25 years of experience in the industry and here I am just getting my feet wet, so with that thought, it can get nerve-wracking.
Dwight MacPherson: To be quite honest, it doesn't enter my mind. I respect Jim a great deal, but I always approach my work with the same methodical, thorough professionalism regardless of who I am sending it to. Of course, being the perfectionist that I am, I always find something that could have been better later on down the road. I guess that's just part of the writer's curse.
Juan Ferreyra: Because I was born in Argentina, Thomas Jefferson means nothing to me! But anyway, it's always scary for me to turn things over to anyone, and Jim being the evil emperor he is, it makes me reflect on my work a lot.
Fernanda Chiella: Sometimes I do. I try not to think too much about things like that, or I'll get so nervous that I won't get anything done right!
Marco Rudy: I used to read Valentino's work at Marvel when I was living in Mozambique as a kid and really dug it. Now picture me, getting positive feedback on my work from a guy I used to admire when "comics" wasn't more than a cool thing to read and draw, and not by a long shot a work possibility. When my mom thought that drawing comics was ruining my daily sleep and healthy routine, I kept telling her, "Look, this guy is one of the founders of this company, and he keeps complimenting my work! Be proud of me! And let me work!"
Ryan Winn: I have never brought it up to Jim until now, but I was always a fan. I have double issues of so many of his books, especially "Guardians of the Galaxy." I loved that book when I was young. I even found some old "ShadowHawk" ashcans from the first series when I moved recently.
Thomas Boatwright: Actually, I didn't read a lot of current comics growing up. I read mostly comic strips, EC reprints and I had a couple of big brown grocery bags full of old comics my dad gave me. I was aware of Image, but really had no concept of what it meant. Looking back I have a great respect for Jim and what those guys did, but I think more about if guys like Bill Waterson or Guy Davis will ever see my pages.
Christopher Long: I've said this before, but Jim has his fingerprints on some of my favorite comic books. It truly is a thrill to be working with him. My primary motivation is to turn in work that doesn't make him puke.
Mike Cavallaro: I think it may be natural to scrutinize your own work a little more when you know it's going to be published. Most comic creators are fans, too, and we're all sensitive to the idea of giving people our best work. And that is what we want from others when we buy a comic. I think that, with Shadowline, Jim has tried to create a collaborative environment that allows us to focus on the creative aspects of the book while he and Kristen take care of the other essentials.
Jimmie Robinson: I don't think about it. But when I'm at a convention with him I'm always nervous. I'm very aware of it in those situations. But in production mode, my only concern is what I can get away with in print.
Manny Trembley: I like to think of Jim Valentino as more like a rodeo clown. He gets all prettied up for the public and then takes a goring for the team.
Eric A. Anderson: See, and I think he's more like a magical leprechaun. If you capture him and rub his belly, best-selling comics shoot out.
Fill in the blank: "If you like ________, you'll like my comic."
Howard Wong: "…stuff…"
Jimmie Robinson: "…super-heroes…"
Dwight MacPherson: "…well-written, lushly-illustrated fantasy adventures..."
Marco Rudy: "…high contrast art and think it's cool, then I think there's a chance…"
Juan Ferreyra: "…action, adventure, sci-fi and religion (and the thought that maybe it will also have pretty pictures)…"
Christopher Long: For "Ward of the State," "…comics that don't pull their punches…." For "Hiding In Time," "…balls-to-the-wall action and mayhem…
Chee: "…'Easy Way' by Christopher Long…"
Ryan Winn: "…any other crazy Chris Long stories…"
Fernanda Chiella: " …Opeth's 'Blackwater Park'…" It's my suggestion for a soundtrack.
Thomas Boatwright: "…'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' and are interested in the life of Edgar Allan Poe…"
Mike Cavallaro: "…movies by Jim Jarmusch and John Sayles, comics by Charles Berberian, Philippe Dupuy, Joann Sfar and Gilbert Hernandez, music by The Clash..." Those are my influences and inspirations. It all sort of factors in there in some strange way. I hope people judge my comic on its own merits without making comparisons to other things.
Eric A. Anderson: "…stabbing, children's stories, and bad puns…"
Jim Valentino: "…rutabagas…"
For those of you on creative teams scattered across the country or around the globe, describe your experience on something like that.
Howard Wong: There are certainly hurdles working with a team globally. Messages may not translate properly and lose their intended meaning through emails and so forth, but you figure things out and it does all come together in the end. Come to think of it, I never worked with anyone who lived in the same city as me. How weird is that?
Dwight MacPherson: To be honest, I don't know of any other way to do it. [Laughs] Every project I've done thus far involved a creative team spread throughout the United States and Europe. It's not a bad situation thanks to the internet, instant messages and the fine folks at yousendit.com . I can't imagine having to pay to send pages all over the globe. That could get expensive.
Marco Rudy: Well, it is a different kind of job -- Job? Really? I mean there's so much pleasure involved in it you can hardly call it job-- where there is this possibility of assembling creative teams across the world and get positive results out of it. There's a downside when people just disappear, and you can't just go next door and call on him/her...but all in all, there are a lot of opportunities to meet people from places you never thought. I'm from Mozambique, what are the odds of meeting me on the street and asking me to work with you?
Juan Ferreyra: Whether you're scattered around the country or the globe, I think it's kind of the same. Maybe being in the same country will give better opportunities to phone the other creator, but aside from that it's pretty much the same. Not being able to see the other guy next to you doesn't allow for as much brainstorming – which normally ends up coming up with interesting new ideas.
Chee: I really feel like an international Asian man. [Laughs] Seriously though, it's just surreal because I've not met my "colleagues" and most of the time I don't know the faces of the people I work with.
Christopher Long: Chee lives on the other side of the globe, while Ryan lives within spitting distance from my house in Tustin, California. Thanks to E-mail, I can work with Chee, and, more importantly, not have to see Ryan. (I kid, I kid.)
Ryan Winn: The colorist for "Hiding In Time," Igor Noronha, lives in Brazil, but it has not been any different dealing with him than anyone local. We have found instant messenger to be a great way to communicate back and forth and he speaks and types better English than I do so language and distance are not a problem. Plus, he has found some of my other work printed in Portuguese that he is going to send me. What a cool guy!
Eric A. Anderson: Actually, working with Manny has been really challenging in that regard. During the day, when we're both at our "day jobs," if I want to ask him a question about the comic, it's a tricky process. First, I actually have to get up from my desk and leave my office. And his desk is like… forty feet away…maybe more. And I don't mean a straight shot, either. I have to walk around stuff. And if he has his headphones on, I have to interrupt him. He doesn't like it when I interrupt his Vanilla Ice.
Manny Trembley: Yeah, workin' long distance is hard. Take this interview for instance. We actually had to coordinate lunch in order to go to a coffee shop and lounge with our flavored coffee beverages. Do you have any idea how hard that is?
What other Shadowline creator, aside from those with whom you've already worked, would you be interested in working with?
Chee: Howard Wong. Not because I think any less of the other creators but "After the Cape" seems like a title that I would be suitable for. And Marco Rudy rocks on the art, too. Also, I would love to have Juan Ferreyra do covers for any of my books in the future, if given the opportunity for any more at Shadowline.
Dwight MacPherson: I'd love to work with Manny Trembley or Jimmie Robinson. Both are phenomenal artists and I think we could really create something distinct together. Both of these madmen bring a lot to the table, so I imagine it would be a veritable "Create-A-Palooza" if we ever hooked up.
Mike Cavallaro: Aw, geez. I don't know how to answer that. I confess to only having a recent and superficial familiarity with the creators involved with Shadowline. A regrettable fact I hope to amend soon.
Jimmie Robinson: I can't answer that. I mean all the guys in the Shadowline line up are so damn talented. I'd be intimidated working with them. But I enjoy reading them. Plus, I'm not a very good "Script Mirror," I'm more of a "Script Monkey." In other words, hand me a script and instead of reflecting the writer's work like a mirror, I'll "monkey" that biscuit. Plenty of writer's understand this, as long as you don't fly completely off the rails, however, I really like what I see by Manny, Marco, Howard, Dwight, Fernanda, Chee, Long and ... damn, everyone. You know the drill, the grass is always greener over "there." If I worked with them I'd screw up what makes them so damn good in the first place.
Christopher Long: I'd love to work with Jimmy and Kitty AKA Jimmie Robinson. That boy is one sleepless night away from jumping into the abyss – I love it!
Marco Rudy: All Shadowline people are here for their merits; I can't say this one's better than the other…they're all great!! For my style of art, serious themes work best, but still, I am curious how it would be working on a book with a less serious theme. Going with Jimmie Robinson would be my choice if it ever came to that.
Ryan Winn: In my day job I am an inker, so I would love to ink, in no specific order- Jim Valentino, Jimmie Robinson, and Juan Ferreyra.
Juan Ferreyra: I've worked with Christopher Long and Scott Wherle and that was interesting. I guess Jimmie Robinson, maybe as a guest-artist for an issue of "Bomb Queen." I'd also like to work with Hobbes AKA Howard Wong because he was a hardcore Small Gods fan. Maybe work with Manny, too, with me coloring his stuff or him coloring mine.
Howard Wong: I would work with anyone who would be crazy enough to want to work with me.
Eric A. Anderson: Thomas Boatwright, hands down. I've always wanted to learn how to fashion sailing ships out of raw timber.
Manny Trembley: You realize that's his name, right… not his title?
Eric A. Anderson: Uhhh…. Jimmy Kitty, then.
Manny Trembley: And you understand he's not an actual cat.
Eric A. Anderson: Next Question.
What other character(s) from a Shadowline comic, past or present, would you like to take a crack on writing/drawing in a mini-series or one shot?
Christopher Long: ShadowHawk.
Dwight MacPherson: I'd like a crack at "Sam Noir" -- though I may have to duke it out with Eric to make that happen. [Laughs]
Ryan Winn: Uh, "Bomb Queen." Duh.
Marco Rudy: "Bomb Queen" and "ShadowHawk." Those two, for now.
Eric A. Anderson: I'd love to see an entire spin-off series based around Ashe, Bomb Queen's pet sidekick.
Manny Trembley: The one image I saw for Juan Ferreyra's new series "Lazarus," combined with the story's premise, makes me interested in it.
Juan Ferreyra: "Emissary." No wait, er, "ShadowHawk," "Bomb Queen" and "Sam Noir."
Chee: I know I said "After the Cape" earlier but I wouldn't mind having a go at any of the Shadowline comics.
Howard Wong: "Bomb Queen," because of the fun you could have with her. Why is everyone snickering? Also, "Emissary" would be interesting given its layered possibilities of stories.
Jimmie Robinson: The Cape Watch crew - which was shown only in the "Bomb Queen vs. Blacklight" one-shot. They were just background characters in the story, but I could make a story around those geeks. They're kinda like storm chasers - but with super heroes. Of course, nobody would buy it, Hahah! As for characters that actually have a book or history, then someone needs to bring "Emissary" back. Also, a Rebound book would be nice - especially if she stayed homeless and on the streets. I'd hate to draw it though.
Is there another book in the Shadowline group that you see and think, "Damn! I wish I thought of that!" or "Why didn't I think of that?"
Dwight MacPherson: Not really. Although I did think, "Why didn't I come up with that" when I found about Image's "Gutsville" by Si Spurrier and Frazer Irving. I think it's a brilliant concept and can't wait to pick it up. Spurrier's a dazzling writer, so I'm certain it will be superb -- and make me even more jealous.
Marco Rudy: Hmm, I normally draw what others present to me as a script. But I love the whole idea involving "Sam Noir."
Ryan Winn: Uh, "Bomb Queen." Duh.
Howard Wong: No. I'm more of a, "This is a great read!" kind of guy. I enjoy other people's work as I'm a fan first and foremost.
Chee: "Emissary," "After the Cape" and "Sam Noir" are great concepts!
Mike Cavallaro: Well, I know why I didn't think of a lot of these concepts, because my brain is off on its own tangent. But there are some really intriguing ideas, charming concepts and things that seem so solid I can't believe somebody hasn't done them. "Hiding In Time" is a great example of the latter.
Jimmie Robinson: I wish I had the balls to have done "Emissary." Also, Manny's work with Eric on "PX!" I've done all-ages before, but I yearn to get back. I've cried on Manny's shoulder a few times about it. He did "Sam Noir," but hopped right back to the all-ages. I envy that.
Eric A. Anderson: I look at "Hiding in Time" and think that. The premise alone sounds sweet. And I'm a sucker for a good time travel story.
Manny Trembley: I would agree. As soon as I read the premise, I thought "Dang, why hasn't anyone done that before." But I guess that's what makes Christopher Long a mad genius.
Christopher Long: For anyone who knows me, it will come as no surprise that it's "After the Cape ."
What is the best thing about working in the comic book business?
Ryan Winn: Working in the comic industry
Chee: I get to do something I really love .
Jimmie Robinson: Wait, this is a business? I thought we were all just messin' around? Making stupid animal noises in the background. I swear, I'll never get used to this industry. But if my paws were pressed to the fire, I'd say the ability to create, own and express my ideas on paper - even ideas I don't always agree with.
Dwight MacPherson: Getting to meet new people -- fans and peers alike. There are many cool friends I've made inside the industry that I would never have met had I not been in this crazy business. And the fans have been absolutely fabulous. It's been a pleasure getting to know many of them, too.
Oh, yeah... and thanks to the comic "bidness," Gene Simmons knows my name. How cool is that?
Thomas Boatwright: I love taking a script and making it come alive. You get to design and create everything for the most part.
Manny Trembley: The ladies.
Eric A. Anderson: You mean your wife?
Manny Trembley: Yes.
Eric A. Anderson: My answer for this question will be: Seeing our book on shelves. That is a blast.
Howard Wong: I'll be lying if I said that it wasn't cool having a comic [on the shelves with my name on it]. You get to satisfy the inner geek with making one and getting to share it with everyone is just fantastic.
Christopher Long: Seeing something that you've created come to life in a relatively short period. There is nothing better.
Juan Ferreyra: It's great that you can tell a story in such a fantastic medium, one of the few where you can do almost everything and have more control over the final product. Also, it's nice working whenever I want and not having to wake up every day at the same hour -- being able to sleep all I want. Not having to drive to my job and just having to walk a few steps to it is awesome.
Marco Rudy: Drawing, studying and learning as I draw!
Mike Cavallaro: Drawing a lot.
What about the worst thing?
Mike Cavallaro: Drawing a lot.
Marco Rudy: Mike stole my joke. I'm still going to say, "Drawing, studying and learning as I draw!"
Ryan Winn: Deadlines.
Jimmie Robinson: The goddamn Internet! I hate it! It sucks. It ruins my universe.I liked it when comics were some mystical, magical, ethereal things that just materialized in stores and conventions, and comic book creators were mentioned akin to the Greek pantheon. Now it's been stripped naked, runs 24 hours a day, gossip is stronger than fact, and everyone and their panda with a blog is considered a comic book journalist. Worst thing ever to happen to comics. In fact, I'm going to throw out my computer tonight.
Dwight MacPherson: I could write a book about this, but I see Jim wagging the stick again. I would say that the worst thing about this industry is dishonest people. Some will promise you the moon and stars, but when it comes right down to it, they simply cannot deliver. And, as Forrest Gump would say: "That's all I'd like to say about that."
Howard Wong: Taking up time from things in your life. There's always some sort of sacrifice to make a comic book.
Chee: Being chained sometimes to my drawing table.
Juan Ferreyra: Not having co-workers and generally being alone are the worst. It gets pretty boring because you don't have anyone physically around you, either bossing you around or working alongside you. It makes you very lazy sometimes, and this job takes a lot to be disciplined.
Manny Trembley: Seeing good books fall to the wayside. It sucks to see innovative content be completely ignored by people who are simply reading the same Batman and X-Men storylines over and over.
Eric A. Anderson: Yeah, we've seen some good series go down in flames. Let's pour one out for the homies who ain't here.
Thomas Boatwright: Having to go with a design or layout that you know could be better, but that deadline is looming over your head. I wish I had more time to work on things. Not that I'm just churning it out, but I know I could do better. I just try to take what I've learned and make the next page better.
Christopher Long: The whoring and shameless self-promotion. I don't think I'll ever feel comfortable begging people to buy my comic books.
Are there any conventions you will attend or appearances you plan on making in the coming months?
Chee: Unfortunately, no.
Jimmie Robinson: No. I don't do conventions anymore. Look, I'm old, fat, ugly, misshapen, bald with scalp psoriasis, and worst of all, I'm black. Have you seen all those convention photos? The after parties? The bar cons and award shows? Look closely, black people aren't in those pictures. This is whitey territory. I keep a low profile, collect my Hello Kitty gear and listen to Barry Manilow while sippin' Zima. I don't need convention stress in my life. I've paid my dues in the literal thousands of American dollars on booths, tables, travel and hotel. There's one show I might consider, though. I'd hook up with Shadowline's South American connection with Fernanda, Marco, Igor and Juan. Brazil, baby!! Now you're talking!
Kris Simon: Jimmie, you are the whitest black man I have ever known. And I've known a couple. I mean, come on. Barry Manilow and Hello Kitty? Zima?
Eric A. Anderson: Last month, Manny and I attended the first annual Spokane ComiCon. It's the first time we've had something like that locally. Margot Kidder was there. She brought her dogs. Manny was excited because she was on "Smallville."
Manny Trembley: "Smallville" rocks! Eric disagrees.
Mike Cavallaro: I'll be at MOCCA in New York City on June 23rd and 24th. That's my only plan, currently.
Howard Wong: I just came back from the Toronto Comicon and then from July 25-29 I'll be at San Diego Comic-Con International ( www.comic-con.org/cci/ ).
Marco Rudy: If -- and that's a big if-- I get a Visa, I plan to attend the San Diego Comic-Con.
Christopher Long: I will also be attending the San Diego Comic-Con.
Ryan Winn: San Diego Comic-Con, baby!
Juan Ferreyra: I wish I could go to San Diego, but it doesn't seem affordable for me right now.
Kris Simon: Jim and I will be at the San Diego Comic-Con and also at Wizard World Chicago. And we will be looking for new projects!
Now discuss this story in CBR's Image Comics forum