In Store Signing

Joe Harris Speaks Prior to His Forthcoming In-Store Signings

One of the things that I strive to do as a part of my work with The Fantasy Shop is to be aware of up and coming creators in order to make sure readers are checking out work by the creators who will be making waves in the coming future. One of the more exciting creators that may have flown under your radar of late is Joe Harris. He's worked for all of the major publishers and has made some real impact with works like Spontaneous and Ghost Projekt from ONI as well taking over the writing chores on Fury of Firestorm after the departure of Gail Simone.

Joe will be participating in an In-Store Signing at all of our locations next Wednesday (at Florissant and South County) and next Saturday (at Maplewood and Saint Charles).
He was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time to answer some questions and give us some insight into his process.

Fantasy Shop: Hey Joe, how's it going?
Joe Harris: It's going great!  How are you guys doing?

FS: Doing quite well. I'm always curious what introduced someone to comics because I find that it often explains a little bit about their current tastes in comics. What was the first comic you remember reading?
JH: I believe it was Ghost Rider #69.  The original Johnny Blaze series, I mean.  It featured Ghost Rider on the cover going up against a "runaway earth mover" and had this moment inside where he twists a metal wrench like it was made of tissue paper in order to demonstrate "the power of vengeance."  I think I own two or three copies of it, today.

FS: I think every reader finds themselves buying multiple copies of their early reading experiences at some time or another. Something about those early experiences that make us want to revisit them from time to time. Often times we don't even realize during those early reading experiences that there are writers and artists who work on those books. When did you decide you wanted to work in the comic inudstry?
JH: When I was about 15.  I was a musician when I was in high school, but had begun to realize that writing was my calling.  When I became exposed to comics in a big way, soon after, my life path sort of just clicked.  A lot of different books made me want to do this.  Titles like Nexus, Sandman, and creators like Alan Moore, Frank Miller as well as lots of J.M DeMatteis comics made me really want to do this when I was a kid.

FS: It's always interesting to hear which creators put the spark of desire into a future writer or artist. What was your first published comic work?
JH: X-Force #77

FS: No way! I actually have that comic. I remember it quite fondly as a matter of fact. Strange how that happens. What are you working on now?
JH: At this moment, late at night?  I'm finishing up the scripts for Great Pacific #8 and The X-Files: Season 10 #3.  I'm also pecking at some script and story element stuff for a new series I'm doing at Oni Press which we'll be announcing soon.

FS: Sounds like you've got a lot on your plate. I have to say that I'm really looking forward to The X-Files: Season 10 and have really been loving Great Pacific. Where did the inspiration for Great Pacific come from?
JH: From a combination of real world events and environmental phenomena like the physical Great Pacific Garbage Patch, along with my love of science fiction and survival movies like "The Naked Prey."

FS: Very interesting. The book has been getting a whole lot of positive buzz. Have you been pleased with the reaction fans and critics have had to Great Pacific?
JH: Very much so.  Long before we launched, I imagined we'd be lucky to last six issues.  That I'm able to plot this series out through year two and beyond right now is intensely gratifying.

FS: That's great. And it seems more and more that Image has had success giving creators a place to show off what they can do and give them enough room to grow. I'm glad that things have been working out for you and that you've managed to get on the radar of more readers. There are bound to be things that are flying under the radar for many readers these days. what're you reading these days that you think more people should be aware of?
JH: Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt's, "The Sixth Gun" -- though I think the "more" is coming very soon with that book.

FS: I certainly hope you're right on that front, that book has been stellar since the beginning. Hopefully there will be good news about the NBC television series based on it soon. It sounds like you've got a lot on your plate these days. What do you have coming up that you'd like to make sure people keep their eyes open for?
JH: My new graphic novel, Wars In Toyland, with Adam Pollina on art, is coming out from Oni Press this July 10th.

FS: That's exciting, especially since he drew your first issue of professional work. It seems like the convention circuit never ends these days, aside from your forthcoming signings at the Fantasy Shops are there any appearances you'd like to make people aware of?
JH: I'm just putting my plans together now, but I know I'll be at HeroesCon in June, then San Diego in July. I'm going to be in New England for FCBD, splitting time at Larry's Comics and Jetpack Comics.  I'll also be at Third Eye Comics down in Maryland that weekend "X-Files: Season 10" #1 comes out.

FS: Thank you for your time Joe, we look forward to having you in the stores


Signing With Cullen Bunn at South County Store (2/16/2011)

That's Right, Cullen Bunn signing The Fantasy Shop SoCo Wednesday to coincide with the release of his first issue of his Superman/Batman arc!
Superman/Batman #81
Written by CULLEN BUNN
"Sorcerer Kings" Part 1 of 4! Who is that weird Batman on the cover? What has happened to the Earth's sun? And how is it all connected to the mysterious armored figure that Shadowpact discovers in an abandoned factory outside Metropolis? Writer Cullen Bunn (The Sixth Gun) and artist ChrisCross (FIRESTORM) launch Superman and Batman on an utterly epic journey - one that will leave no corner of the DCU untouched!


Cullen has been a friend of The Fantasy Shop for years and we've held signings for his work in the past. But, this is perhaps his most high profile run with either of The Big 2. So, we're insanely happy to have him at the South County store from 5pm-9pm signing books and talking about what it's like working with characters like Superman & Batman, and what we can expect from his sorcery driven time travel yarn over the next 4 issues of Superman/Batman! 

So, come by, say hi, and talk with the man behind one of the hottest small press releases of last year (Sixth Gun ... what do you mean you aren't reading Sixth Gun yet? Get on it! NOW!!) and prepare to enjoy without hesitation "Sorceror Kings"!

Vertigo's Crime Line Enlightens New Ground with Area 10

The term "Noir"is getting thrown around a lot these days because of the recent return to popularity of crime fiction. But what people often forget about Film Noir is that it not only was it prominently used to tell crime fiction stories, but that it was also an aesthetic style and a kind of moral ambiguity in which the characters exsisted. The kind of fiction that I am talking about is not only the films of John Huston, Otto Preminger, and (sometimes questionably) Alfred Hitchcock or the novels of Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake), Mikey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler, it is the visual style of painting with shadows, it is a style of fiction that could be defined as a tedious balance of "oneiric (dreamlike), strange, erotic, ambivalent, and cruel". Plenty of creators continue to produce fiction that would be well at home in the more simplified world of Noir, but a rare few really craft the kind of fiction that brings a nicely mixed feel of all the five elements as well as creating the right visual style. In the current world of comics I can think of a few pairs that seem obvious choices: Brubaker & Phillips (or Brubaker & Lark for that matter), Azzarello & Risso, & Bendis & Oeming (And Bendis & Maleev ... I suppose Bendis & Gaydos as well), also Darwyn Cooke on his own. But there is a new book that I think makes a case for each of it's creators to become part of Noir Cinematography Defined.the new wave of noir craftsman: Area 10. Written by an old hand at crime fiction, in the larger sense, Christos Gage and drawn by one of the brightest young stars in the industry Chris Samnee,
the book unfolds over several weeks in New York City as NYPD Homicide Detective Adam Kamen tries to solve the "Henry the VIII" Murders, a strange string of unconnected murders linked only by the removal of each of the victim's heads. Kamen is also trying to put behind him some personal drama involving his recent divorce after the sudden death of his (prematurely) newborn son. The book takes a wholly unexpected (though if you've seen the previews in the back of recent Vertigo single issues perhaps less so) turn 7 or so pages into the seemingly run of the mill crime story. Kamen is suddenly and brutally stabbed in the forehead with a Phillips head screwdriver by a lunatic who has also slain all the occupants of a Psychologists office and waiting room. The story then follows Kamen as he continues to try to unravel the ever more complicated case of "Henry" all the while experiencing side effects from his injury that might be more than they seem.
The book deals well with all the elements of being a Noir piece while also folding in some pseudo-sci-fi that brings a certain whet to my appetite. The book unfolds at a nice pace and reveals pieces of key information at just the right times to keep your interest and keep you speeding through the book. At 175 pages it reads well and evokes the kind of feeling I got from reading shorter works by some of the other great modern practitioners of Noir (Like Elmore Leonard's Swag an instant recommend if you're looking for some truly great crime fiction to occupy a summer afternoon). 
Gage has been writing crime fiction on some level or another for most of his career and so his talent at the tale is certainly not unexpected, though those unfamiliar with Samnee might find themselves fairly stunned by the quality of work that he turns out in this piece. From what I understand from my recent discussions with Chris (See the interview I did with him a few weeks ago HERE) he completed this work several years ago and had been waiting for the Crime Line to launch and his place in the release schedule so that others might see the work. The work doesn't seem dated as Samnee has become something of a chameleon of late making subtle adaptations to his work from book to book as he tries to fit best in to the style of the story being told (you can see differences between his work from The Mighty to Siege: Embedded which are his most recent consecutive works). At times the work even evokes the work of another of my favorite artists, Shawn Martinbrough (who penned the only "How to Draw" book that I own: How to Draw Noir Comics: The Art and Technique of Visual Storytelling). 
All in all after having read the book I think that it is the kind of book that all fans of crime fiction (regardless of how close to truly Noir it might be) will love. I give it the utmost recommendation. 
Also, if you're interested in picking up a copy from the artist himself on the day it releases Chris will be signing at our South County Location on Wednesday April 7th from 5-8pm.