Last summer fans were treated to the first volume of "Flight," an anthology graphic novel featuring a wide-variety of cartoonists and animators. The book, published by Image Comics, was a surprise success. While "Flight" didn't have any well-known contributors to pull in buyers, the early buzz on the book was huge and the acclaim following its publication was pretty much universal.
With that success in mind a second volume of "Flight" was pretty much guaranteed. This March Image will publish "Flight, Volume 2," a 304 page, full-color graphic novel once again featuring an eclectic mix of contributors. We spoke with "Flight's" captain, ahem, editor, Kazu Kibuishi, about what we can expect from the follow-up.
First up, the list of creators. Seeing as how Kibuishi and company are working up to the last minute on stories, the line-up hasn't been finalized quite yet, but Kibuishi did drop a number of names on us. He said, "The artists who are most definitely going to be appearing in this volume include Michel Gagne, Doug TenNapel, Jake Parker, Khang Le, Rad Sechrist, Ben Hatke, Sonny Liew, Clio Chiang, Hope Larson, Kean Soo, Doug Holgate, Ryan Sias, Johane Matte, Herval, Becky Cloonan, Jeff Smith, and more.
"In addition to these folks, we'll have animation talents Rodolphe Guenoden, Christian Schellewald, Justin Ridge, and Don Hertzfeldt joining us this time around," continued Kibuishi. "About half of the crew comprises of returning artists, but we also added a whole slew of new talent to the roster for both this volume and Volume Three."
With a solid reputation already established as a high quality book, bringing together the above contributors for volume two was a little easier than the first time around.
"Well, I did have a lot of people lining up to contribute, but most of these folks on the line-up were invited onto the project. I've been a fan of much of their work, and luckily, they were excited by what they saw in "Flight, Volume One" and wanted to contribute. Surprisingly, keeping everyone together has been fairly easy, since they all seem to enjoy being a part of this. Really, I just sit around on the sidelines and make sure that nothing goes horribly wrong. So far, so good.
"On the first book, we simply gathered together a bunch of creators who we admired and who we wished to work with. Nothing's changed, really, except for the fact that some of these artists are better known in the industry. Jeff Smith ('Bone') is one of my great heroes, and I nearly fainted when he agreed to do something
for the book. I've been trying my best to stay humble and not become too much of a raving fanboy around some of these guys. Hehehe. In any case, it is actually the work of the returning artists I tend to look forward to most. Seeing them grow beyond their initial efforts is probably the most rewarding part of working on the second book."
When it comes to the contributions to "Flight, Volume 2" Kibuishi hasn't specified a creative direction for the contributors to follow, but allowed the entire group to inspire each other.
"With 'Flight' I tend to let the creators do whatever projects they want," admitted Kibuishi. "I put no restrictions on them, but I do encourage them to check out everyone else's work. Just seeing what the others are working on tends to influence the individual's contribution quite a bit, and if there is any art direction going on, this is it (aside from my private notes and critiques, as well as the critiques of others on the book, most notably Phil Craven).
"On Volume Two, I'd have to say Jake Parker was the one who really nailed down a voice for the project. To me, his story really defined the feel of this one. I even decided to scrap my old story to do one that followed in a similar tone and feel after seeing his initial images for 'The Robot and the Sparrow.' It was really inspiring."
You might think that this second volume of "Flight" was a bit easier to put together following the lessons learned the first time out. Well, not exactly and maybe not for the reasons you'd expect.
"It's been different. This time it felt more like I was trying to sustain something that was already created, and so in that regard, it's been more difficult," said Kibuishi. "I also had an enormous graphic novel project called 'Daisy Kutter - The Last Train' that I had to finish during the few months leading up to this project. It was kind of painful to watch as 'Flight' was sort of floating out on its own without me while I finished up that book. I really came back aboard and started working on it after many of the contributors had already completed their comics or were well on their way. I'll definitely have to schedule myself better next time.
"One thing I learned on the first book that I actually didn't apply so well here was that I need to be the first one out of the gate and get my story done early. Another thing that actually did help here was in knowing that the artists would have a hard time hitting deadlines. Despite setting them so
far ahead of schedule, here we are down to the wire, so it's a good thing I thought ahead in order to get us these last few weeks to finish up."
With critics and fans heaping praise on "Flight, Volume One," expectations run high for this second volume, but Kibuishi is confident readers won't be disappointed.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about those high expectations, but the worries were pretty short-lived," admitted Kibuishi. "After seeing the first few stories (especially seeing the work of Michel Gagne and Hope Larson) coming in and the preliminary artwork for the others, I knew this book would meet or surpass expectations. Just looking at the material right now, I think it certainly has done that, while also managing to be a very different book."
As he mentioned above, Kibuishi is already in the planning stages on a third volume of "Flight." For now, fans can expect a new book to come out at a rate of once a year, but Kibuishi would really like to see it become a quarterly publication. "Of course, I'll just be playing it by ear and see what the best options are when they become available to us."
Kibuishi is keeping busy with a lot of work outside of flight. He's developing another graphic novel, started writing a couple of screenplays and is putting together some children's books. With that in mind, how long can he realistically expect to remain the editor of "Flight" and would he considering letting someone else step in to his position?
"Well, despite my busy schedule, I'm going to have to find ways to continue being the editor," said Kibuishi. "I get a lot of assistance from the artists themselves, and I brought one of the guys on as an assistant editor, so we should be okay for the foreseeable future. Cutting down on the amount of work I decide to take on might be something I need to work on this year."
Finally, we "forced" Kibuishi to pick which contributions jump out at him the most in "Flight, Volume 2."
"[laughs] I really do love them all equally, but I suppose that one of my previous answers gives the hint of a slight bias. Aside from Jake's story [' The Robot and the Sparrow'], I think Rodolphe Guenoden's contribution is going to make some jaws drop. That man is ridiculously good. Oh, and Don Hertzfeldt's contribution floored me. It's an emotional powerhouse. Man, I can keep going on. The more I think about it, there's some really great stuff in this book!"