How I Came to Edit a Second Book for Fantagraphics
January 26th, 2014
After the release of Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby's Romance Comics, Editor in Chief at Fantagraphics, Gary Groth and I started talking jokingly about doing a follow-up volume. I say "jokingly" because I was not seriously considering doing another huge restoration task. The first volume had taken me years to finalize and I didn't see myself repeating the process anytime soon.
Then, I remembered an email I received when the first book was announced. Chris Fama had written to tell me how he had been restoring Simon & Kirby's work for years and offered to help on the project. At the time, however, Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby's Romance Comics was already completed. I thanked him for the offer and explained that no more help was needed. Thinking back to the exchange, the idea struck me that perhaps Chris would be interested in providing the restoration for a new volume. I wrote to him and explained my idea for a second tome covering the early Simon & Kirby’s romance stories—a compilation featuring the birth of the genre.
About a week later, I received a package in the mail containing several samples of these stories restored by Chris. Needless to say, I was greatly impressed by his technique. A few phone calls and several emails later, we had mapped out the inside of the book, and Chris enthusiastically went to work on the restoration, adding the yellow paper technique I developed for the first book as part of his pipeline.
For the first book, I wrote two essays and recruited comic historian, Michelle Nolan to write the introduction. For this new volume, I didn't feel like I had the necessary knowledge to go much beyond what I had already written in the first book, so my search to find the right person to write the intro began. I first touched base with noted comic historian and writer, Roy Thomas, to see if he would be interested. Unfortunatelly, his busy schedule prevented him from taking this on. Roy suggested that I contact Bill Schelly, whom I had already met a few times at comics conventions, and whose knowledge of comic book history is unparalleled. After exchanging a few emails with Bill, and supplying him with some of the research I'd already done, he agreed to take on the task. The result of his effort is a wonderfully insightful introduction to the book, which met and surpassed my expectations.
To accompany his text, I blew up and restored five panels using the same technique I used in the first book. My thought was that these panels would form a nice bridge—a segue of sort between the first book, for which I did all the restoration, and this second volume, which uses Chris' wonderfully accomplised restoration technique. I also provided restoration for the cover and back cover of the book, working from Fantagraphics' designer, Tony Ong's layout. Below is an example of two panels I restored for the introduction, with the top being the original scan, and the bottom being the restored panels. You can click on the image for a larger view.
When all the elements came together, I designed the inside layout and meticulously went over every aspect of the book to insure high quality. Chris and I were dedicated all the way to the end, making last minute changes right up to the book going to press, in an effort to get the best possible presentation of this material.
I frankly never thought I'd be doing another comic book archival project, but I'm happy it came to be as I believe this material needs to be preserved for historical purpose.
Young Romance 2: The Early Simon & Kirby's Romance Comics will be available in 6-8 weeks and can be pre-ordered now from Amazon.com.
The Saga of Rex Sets Course for Belgium to Become an Animated Feature Film
January 7th, 2014
For Immediate Release
Grid Animation, Belgium's premier animation and visual effects company, has acquired the option to create the feature film version of Michel Gagné's graphic novel, The Saga of Rex. Production is expected to start in the summer of 2014 with Gagné attached as director. The animated film will be a European co-production with main production taking place in Brussels.
The Saga of Rex was initially serialized over a period of 6 years, from 2005 to 2010, in the acclaimed comic anthology, Flight. It was compiled and published as a graphic novel in 2010, by Image Comics. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Gagné was able to produce four minutes of animation demonstrating the potential of bringing the story and imagery to animation.
"Years ago, I discovered The Saga of Rex in Flight, and I immediately loved it," said Mark Mertens, Managing Director for Grid Animation. "After the Kicktarter campaign, I contacted Michel to inquire about the rights for the movie. I was thrilled to discover that they were still available."
Since 1995, Grid has been providing services such as 3D, 2D, VFX, and set supervision for advertising and film production companies from facilities in both, Ghent and Brussels, Belgium. More recently, they started organizing complete productions for advertising and corporate assignments, as well as acting as a co-producer for international animated films. Last year, they were awarded "Animation Producer of the Year" by Cartoon Forum.
"I'm extremely excited about the prospect of working with Grid Animation and have access to the amazing European talent pool," said Gagné. "With a proper budget, and an inspired team to help me fulfill my vision, my dream of making an animated feature film that is a poetic work of art is now closer than ever to becoming a reality."
Michel Gagné is a veteran filmmaker, animator, comic artist, author and video game designer with over 25 years of experience. He was awarded a BAFTA (British Academy Award) and an Annie Award in 2010 for his video game, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet.