Wednesday, November 02, 2011

"I solve problems"



Hey everyone,

So, today the last issue of the much loved creator owned series "Fear Agent" ships. It's the end of this arc, and the book. Fans are lamenting the end of it, and for good reason. It's consistently sat up on many comic fans' list of favorite creator owned comics. Chances are your favorite comic writer or artist loves this book. It's universally praised. (No pun intended ;-)

I read some wonderful reviews online (from critics and fans alike!), and as much as I am flattered by the kind words I have to admit they make me feel a little uncomfortable.

To explain why, I have to back track a bit. I, as you know, make comics. I've gotten fairly good at it, which is valuable to some people. But what is of more value to people is that I am able to solve problems once they arise. I don't do anything the creators involved can't do themselves, I just lend a hand and a fresh pair of eyes. Many of the books I've worked on were having some kind of trouble. I've even been brought on to books as a "ghost" to help a creative team out of a bind. (No, I won't tell you what those books were, so please don't ask.)

So, amongst friends, I've been jokingly compared to Winston Wolfe from Pulp Fiction because "I solve problems". I'm not quite that cool, and I haven't been called on to wash blood and gore off of anyone, but who knows what life has in store for me ;-)


This brings me to Fear Agent. Rick and Tony have been friends of mine for a long time. I can remember when they were first working on the pitch for Fear Agent. They did everything to get the book ready, from hashing out logo designs and even the book's name, to securing colorists and letterers. They were sure they had sometime special on their hands and they were on fire. They built Fear Agent from the ground up, and publishers noticed. The series went from Image, then there was some wrangling between publishers who were eager to get this new, great book (along with it's amazing creative team) in their stable. Fear Agent ended up at Dark Horse, where it has made it's home. (even Hollywood noticed, and rumors of a Fear Agent movie have been floating around for some time.)


However, and this is no secret, the book often had scheduling problems. There's no "bad guy" behind that. It's just that life sometimes complicates things and building a creator owned series of any kind, while still making a living, is difficult at BEST. Trust me, I know.


So, towards the end of the first arc I was brought on to do layouts and help the book along. My contribution was minimal. I drew rough layouts breaking down the pages into shots and panels, and Tony used them as a guide for the final art. Simple.

Fast forward, towards the end of the series, and I was asked to draw rough pencils which Tony would then tweak/add detail for John Lucas to do finishes over. Again, a fairly minimal contribution.

This is why I'm a little uncomfortable with the high praise in reviews and on various social media sites. I appreciate it, but I came to the party so late, and brought so little, that I feel odd taking credit for how fun it turned out to be.

I just came to the book to help, to "solve a problem". That's all. I didn't create any of the characters, I didn't really design any aliens, I didn't even contribute "finished" art.


Rick and Tony built this thing, with some later help from the great Jerome Opena. They fought to get it made and noticed. I never suffered though the lean times when the book brought in no money, before Dark Horse backed the comic. Rick and Tony printed posters and promo material to hand out at cons from their own pocket. They believed in this book when no one else did.

If I may continue with the Pulp Fiction comparison, Fear Agent is no more about me than Pulp Fiction is about Winston Wolfe. I'm proud to have be a small part of Fear Agent, and add a little of me to the mix. But I feel strongly that Rick, Tony, and to a large extent Jerome, deserve the praise for creating this book. That's the magic, CREATING a new thing! Not fixing a new thing when a part breaks down.

I know how hard it is to try and make a creator owned book work. My heart still aches for my own failed ventures in creator owned comics, most specifically with Hysteria. So I respect these guys for pulling it off. Hats off to them.


Support Rick and Tony. Support Fear Agent. Support Dark Horse for once again putting their time and money in a creator owned book. Read Fear Agent. They have trades from the very first arc available. I'm positive you'll enjoy it :-)


Best,
Mike


2 comments:

hkphan said...

Mike, I'm one of the many lamenting the end of "Fear Agent". Started picking up the singles w/ issue #5 and didn't miss an issue after that. Any one whom made a contribution to "Fear Agent", no matter how minimal, has my utmost respect. Beautifully written and drawn comics should always be mourned and I'm very glad to have been able to enjoy it during it's too brief run.
P.S.-Sorry I never got the chance to pick up single issues of "Hysteria", but I bought the trades off of amazon. I mourn it's loss as well.

Mr. Hawthorne said...

Thanks for that. I appreciate it ;-)

No worries about Hysteria. It's hard to track down anyway, and it's not like I see royalties from the trades. SO I don't even push for people to buy it now.

I'm glad you dig it though, thank you :-)

Mike