Archive for ‘January, 2012’
I could not be happier. SECTION ZERO is back.
SECTION ZERO ia a comic Tom Grummett and I co-created in 2000 as part of Image’s Gorilla Comics imprint, along with some other titles by people you may have heard of: Busiek and Immonen’s Shockrockets, Waid and Kitson’s Empire, Perez’s Crimson Plague, and Dezago and Wieringo’s Tellos. It was my first creator-owned comic and, I gotta tell you, I had the time of my life. But then life took an unexpected turn (I got divorced) and in the middle of its first six-issue arc, SECTION ZERO went on indefinite hiatus.
Tom and I always wanted to get back to Zero and finish what we started but first, as Tom has said, “the stars had to come into the proper alignment.” Cut to late 2011. I’ve started this site, and wonder what I’ll do after the first Johnny Zombie story ends. Guess which two words I think of instantly.
Of course, There Is No Section Zero… without me and Tom. Got to admit, I was worried. A lot of time had passed. We hadn’t spoken in a while. Tom was busy drawing Avengers Academy and Hulk and comics with “X” in the title. Maybe he didn’t have the time or interest any more.
A waste of good worrying. You know the friends you may not see for years at a stretch, but the minute you’re back together it’s as if no time has passed? That’s how it is with Tom. He didn’t say “yes”— he said “Hell yes!” (Except more Canadian.)
So here’s what we’re gonna do: Tom and I are working on new SECTION ZERO material now, squeezing it in around our day jobs. At the same time we’ll be posting all the previously published storyline— starting with today’s 5-Page Prologue, followed by 3 pages every Thursday. By the time all that’s posted, we’ll have a ton of new stuff ready. If you haven’t read these comics before, this is your chance. If you’ve already read them you’ll still want to check in because A) Richard Starkings, First Tiger at Comicraft, has insanely and wonderfully insisted on “freshening” the lettering for the book, so the pages have a slightly different look to them, and B) since re-lettering was being done anyway, I’m tweaking the script here and there. The changes aren’t major, just important. For instance: the Prologue originally ended with Kyoti musing about the upcoming 2000 US Presidential election. Considering how that election played out, I really wanted to make his comment a bit more pointed. Things like that.
There’s a lot more to say about SECTION ZERO— both how we got here (over a few mountainous speed bumps) and where we’re going— and we’ll get into all that right here, starting Thursday.
When Tom and I decided to re-start Section Zero, the good news was: I still had all the original art. The bad news was: in my various moves, I had no idea where the coloring and lettering files had gone. With limited finances, I resigned myself to re-lettering the entire story— I thought I could do a serviceable job— but neither Tom nor I had the ability or time to recolor the books. And the thought of losing all the wonderful work Ben Dimagmaliw had done just killed me. So I crossed my fingers and hoped we could track down copies of the files.
Comicraft had lettered the book and composited together the pages for printing. They had complete files— twelve years ago! Did they still have them? I sent an email to Richard Starkings… and heard nothing. If he had good news, I was sure he would have gotten right back to me. So I assumed the worst.
Second email went to Ben Dimagmaliw. No lettering files, of course, but did he have color files? He did! He kept copies of everything! Except… they were in the United States and Ben was in Japan, with no way of knowing exactly where they were unless he returned stateside to look himself. Which wasn’t going to happen any time soon.
So I prepared to re-letter the book myself, and find someone to recolor it…
…Just as I got an email from Richard Starkings! He had been in England and unable to reply until he returned. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any of the files either, but felt an obligation to finish what Comicraft started, so offered to re-letter the entire book and asked me to phone him so we could work out the details. When we talked, I told him how truly, deeply touched I was by his kindness. He shrugged it off, paused, then mused “Come to think of it, those files might be out in the garage. Let me check and get back to you.” Not three hours later I received this photo:
Coloring Files. Lettering Files. Ads. Previews. Covers. Everything! But that wasn’t enough. After looking at the pages, Richard insisted on “freshening” the lettering, giving the book a new look… and himself a lot of extra work. Didn’t seem to phase him.
There are a lot of good guys in this business, and a lot of unsung heroes. You ask me, Richard Starkings is at the top of both lists.
Straight from Tom Grummett’s Vast Vault of Unpublished Art come the SECTION ZERO SKETCHBOOK— accessible through the menubar above (under “Sketchbooks”, not surprisingly) or right here by clicking on SECTION ZERO SKETCHBOOK. In addition to the art— which isn’t just cool, but a great window into the creative process— Tom and I post any memories or thoughts each piece brings to our minds. Have to admit— I’d almost forgotten how Alan Moore helped shape the book until I saw one of the sketches. Then it all came back to me…
As time goes by and Tom uncovers more treasures, we’ll add them to the Sketchbook. Stay tuned.
ALSO: Imagine my surprise this past weekend when I checked my email and found a wonderful Johnny Zombie drawing waiting for me! Heartfelt thanks to Grace Allison who colored Johnny Zombie Christmas and is— as I’ve always said and you can certainly see for yourself— So Much More that just a great colorist!
This is the first in a series of quick character studies to give new readers a better sense of who’s who, and older fans a few new facts about their friends (and foes). More to come, as characters are introduced…
DOCTOR TITANIA CHALLENGER is a scientific Jane-of-all-trades, and comes from a family of world-reknown adventurers. Internet rumors speculate she is the great-granddaughter of Professor George Edward Challenger, from Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel The Lost World— rumors I have been unable to confirm or deny. It’s true Tina has the same sharp intelligence and fierce determination as the Professor, although, thankfully, not his abnormally large head. As a character, she’s cut from the same cloth as Doc Savage— one of those people who is very smart, and very good at just about everything they do.
SAM WILDMAN has learned everything the hard way. Nothing happens easily for him. He usually finds himself outnumbered, outgunned, or in over his head. The only reason he ever has a chance of coming out alive is that he is quick-thinking, resourceful and never, ever gives up. Plus, he has a flaming sword. In the ’80s Sam fronted the punk band “Fort Charles”— named for Charles Fort, the first chronicler of the odd and unexplained— and played CBGBs a number of times, always with thrillingly disastrous results. His fellow fictional soldiers-of-fortune include Indiana Jones and Captain Easy— the “takes a licking and keeps on ticking” type of heroes.
I couldn’t pass up the chance to pair a “Superman” archetype with an “Everyman” archetype— they compliment and contrast each other so perfectly. Giving Tina and Sam a… complicated personal history only made it that much more interesting. And as different as they are, they share one character-defining passion: a fascination with the unknown and unexplainable. It’s what attracted them to each other in the first place.