The Shortest Day: Steven Seagle talks "Solstice"

Scroll down to the end of this interview for a massive preview of art from the book.

You probably know Steven Seagle's name best from his work on books like Marvel's "Uncanny X-Men," the "Constantine" comics adaptation from earlier this year or his critically acclaimed and Eisner nominated graphic novel "It's A Bird…" with Teddy Kristiansen, to name just a few. He's got another book he'd like you to check out that makes it's debut at this week's Comic-Con International in San Diego, but it's not exactly new, it's not exactly old and much of it has never been seen before. To explain, we need to travel back in time a bit.

Almost 10 years ago, Seagle and artist Justin Norman got together to produce the three-issue series "Solstice," which was released by then upstart publisher Watermark Books. Two issues of the series were released, but Watermark fell apart before the third issue saw publication and the series was never completed.

Fast forward ten years and the series that never ended finally does with a new 100+ page collection of the graphic novel from Active Images. We caught up with Seagle to get the full history of this book and to see what his feelings are of this book now ten years after the fact.

"I publicly apologize to anyone who bought the first two issues and now has to buy a collection to finish the story," Seagle told CBR News late last week. "I spent the last several years on a personal quest to find a publisher who would put out issue three and then collect the series, but I absolutely couldn't find a taker for that plan. But luckily, I eventually did find publisher and letterer extroadinaire Richard Starkings and Active Images who were able to sweeten the pot significantly for anyone who has to make that sacrifice."

And sweeten the pot they have. "Solstice" is now a single volume book and it's been remastered in a number of ways.

  • "Solstice" features a new cover by Justin Norman.
  • The book's been completely relettered.
  • The complete "Solstice" story is published for the first time, "…which required that I revisit the old plot and turn it into the final script and that Justin draw the final issue completely-- as well as redraw some pages and panels that had become lost over the years," explained Seagle.
  • Re-tuned dialogue throughout-- "I was able to pull a 'George Lucas' and rethink work I had done years ago-- although I promise, mine turned out for the better."
  • An all new design by J.G. Roshell
  • Loads of bonus features including lost art, a project history and an extensive round robin interview.
  • And it's the first ever Man of Action Studios book in collaboration with Active Images.

So, sure, now we know the publishing history of "Solstice," but what's the book about? Seagle was happy to explain.

"'Solstice' is the story of Hugh Waterhouse for whom the shortest day of the year has become the longest day of his life," explained Seagle. "His father, Russell, is a millionaire with a fatal brain tumor. To try and get out of his death sentence, Russell drags Hugh to the four corners of the earth in a desperate search for the legendary Fountain of Youth. But there's a reason The Fountain has never been found, and on the shortest day of the year-- the solstice-- Hugh discovers the secret of immortality…the hard way.

"For people who like my more internal work-- "It's a bird...," "Kafka," and the highly experimental structural stuff I've done-"House Of Secrets," "The Amazon"-- this will be right up their alley.

"And Justin's art-- even the stuff that's a decade old-- is a real discovery. He's like a Joe Kubert for our times. He had to draw everything-- from Ancient Egypt to the present day jungles of Chile-- and he did it all without missing a beat."

With ten years gone by a comic creator might feel inclined to update the book considerably, maybe fixing things they see as youthful mistakes or to bring it in line with their current sensibilities. But Seagle says aside from some small changes here and there, the book you'll see today is pretty much the same one from 10 years ago. "Well, the good news is that this story is being told today and I did get to go back and rethink the dialogue and tighten it up considerably. But dialogue aside, the structure of the story didn't change at all. I liked what it was when I wrote it. I'm very much a believer in the primacy of ideas. I often feel that the first idea is the one that is creatively most sound. I didn't want to revisit what I said. I did want to fine tune how I said it."

Seagle's known Active Images' Richard Starkings for years and when he saw them publish books like "Hip Flask" and "Skidmarks" and other forgotten gems, Seagle rang his pal up. "…I said, 'Hey, Rich! I've got a few of those forgotten gems! You should put them out!' And he is," said Seagle. "Richard is both a good-hearted person and a genuine fan of the medium. I think Active Images will develop into a key independent player over the next year.

"We've actually become such good pals, that Man of Action Studios (booth 2104) will be right around the corner from Active Images (booth 2007) at this years COMIC-CON INTERNATIONAL in San Diego. That's where SOLSTICE debuts, and fans can meet Justin and I at either booth along with my fellow Man of Action Studios mates Joe Kelly (debuting his Active Images/Man Of Action Studios book 'Ballast'); Joe Casey, and Duncan Rouleau."

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