Breaking my arm patting myself on the back

IDW’s “Curious Cases of Sherlock Holmes” Collection (Also, Happy Holidays)

In time for the new Robert Downey sequel, IDW Publishing has released Curious Cases of Sherlock Holmes, reprinting various Holmes comics published by Caliber Press in the 90s, including Adventure of the Opera Ghost written by Steven Phillip Jones and illustrated by yrs truly. So for any Holmes fans who have not had the chance to pick up this fun and exciting and well-drawn pastiche featuring Holmes meeting the Phantom of the Opera, what are you waiting for? Daddy needs some royalties!

In other news, as many of you hopefully know by now, I have a webcomic/serialized graphic novel titled Rose Madder, my deconstructionist romance comic.  This year, I am participating with dozens of other webcomics creators in the Comic Creators For Freedom wallpaper project, helping to raise money to end human trafficking.  Here’s the B&W version of my contribution to their benefit wallpaper, this year themed “Epic Snowball Fight”.

You can see the full-color version here.  Rose will be included into the benefit wallpaper featuring the characters of all the webcomics contributing to the project–and webcomics creators can still be a part of it, as the deadline for contributions is December 31.  Click on the Comic Creators For Freedom link above for more details.

Blast From The Past: More Tatters

Panel from Tatters; Rose and Stern
Here’s more art–as promised–from the 1995 Caliber Press book Tatters, written by Steven Jones and illustrated by yrs truly. Seen above are the characters Rose and Stern, whom I subjected to some brazen stunt casting (Vincent Vega’s goatee added on by Caliber editorial). Below is another page from the book; click to see at full size.
Page from Tatters

A History of Rose Madder, Part 1: A Love-Gone-Wrong-Song

Rose2 color

OUTLINE-ROSE MADDER-“Is That All There Is”
ACT I
1) New York City-The Present
a) Open on the white, wintery sky. We hear “Heat Wave” by Martha and the Vendellas. Pan down to reveal the city in snowy splendor.
b) More of the city. Visible holiday decorations and displays. End on the apartment window of Rose Madder. The alarm clock is buzzing. 1) Rose is a woman in her mid-twenties; out of school, overeducated, unemployed and somewhat adrift.
c) Inside her bedroom. Rose is face down on the bed, asleep. Rose’s calico cat Sienna (short for “Burnt Sienna”) sits on her back, licking the back of her neck. He’s hungry. Drowsy, Rose is at once amused, annoyed, and slightly aroused by the action.
d) Rose forces herself awake. Montage of Rose’s morning routine: shuffling around in pajamas, she feeds the cat, pees, takes some medication, smokes a cigarette. Emphasis on the mundaneness of her ritual.
1) We see a little of her apartment. It’s underfurnished, yet cluttered with books, magazines, newspapers. A few storage boxes, as if Rose has just moved in (she hasn’t). Rose is a little slovenly–not a slob, but unconcerned with the idea of “presentability”. A cello in its case sits in one corner of her bedroom. Ashtrays are everywhere.

About ten years ago I began developing what would become Rose Madder. Originally intended as a graphic novel that would never be noticed in the over-steroided world of comics in the ’90s, Rose Madder has, over the decade, morphed into an animation series pitch, a manga-fied short story, and a fictional blog, before it went full circle and back into graphic novel form–all without actually ever being published, more or less (more on that later).

(The above excerpt is from a treatment I wrote for the above-mentioned series pitch, by the way, from around 2002-3.)

Loosely based on some real-life events and people, my initial idea was to come up with an anti-romance, or, as Thomas Dolby once put it, a love-gone-wrong-song. A story about two people who are perfect for each other, which is why they are utterly wrong for each other.  I wanted, in a way, to reinvent the romance comic for the 21st century, but not in that indie comix, navel-gazing “I’m a loser, so why don’t you kill me” style.  I wanted to do something with all the high drama of mainstream entertainment;  clever, but accessable, that might appeal to a smart adolescent or teen who wants to read about relationships. But, because I’m not a sentimental person, filtered throughout with a healthy amount of skepticism and cynicism to keep me from going into a diabetic coma during its creation.

Keep in mind, this was ten years ago, before manga broke big and created that market that was a pipe dream just a few years earlier. Before the the advent of very capable western creators like Bryan Lee O’Malley who hit the ground running with romances like the Scott Pilgrim series, full of youthful energy and humor that I certainly couldn’t match, and wouldn’t dare to compete with. Before webcomics broadened the appeal of different genres to a new generation of readers.  All of this started to happen while I sat on my story and kind of lived with it for a long time before ever committing anything to paper.

And somewhere along the way, as I was meditating over Rose Madder, it began to mutate into something a little weird.

In Part 2, I go manga.

Below: chiibi Rose and Tarpit, from 2005.
RoseTarpit2A RoseTarpit2B
Rose Madder is © 2009 A.L. Baroza

Blast From The Past: Tatters

From around 1995, Tatters was a one-shot written by Steven Jones and drawn by me, published by Caliber Press.  Tatters was kind of an odd duck of a comic, part gothic superhero book, part government conspiracy story, with some sci-fi elements and a dystopian future thrown in for good measure.  But the book will always be known to me as (as far as I know) the first comic to model a character after Samuel L. Jackson.  Pulp Fiction was hot at the time, and so I drew in Jackson’s and Travolta’s characters from the movie as the comic’s hard-luck hitmen Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, as a joke.  (The characters are named Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.  You can figure out what happens to them.)

As I understand it, editorial at Caliber wanted to avoid legal problems with celebrity likenesses, and so a goatee was added to the Travolta character, drawn directly onto my artwork.  But Sam Jackson in all his Jules-ian glory remained unaltered, and therefore I think I can brag that I was the first to use Jackson as a comic character.  In these days where nearly every mainstream comic has celebrity stunt casting, and where a Jackson-based character became such a mainstay of an entire comic book line that Jackson himself had to play the movie version of that character (I’m looking at you, Ultimate Nick Fury), I feel totally vindicated.

Maybe later I’ll put up a scan of the Jackson/Travolta caricatures, but right now, here’s the opening prologue of Tatters.  Click on the thumbnails to see the larger scans, taken directly from my original art, inked entirely oldschool with a combination of brushes and Rapidograph pens, and lettered by hand.  Pasteups by rubber cement.

Tatters pg 1Tatters pg 2Tatters pg 3

(Sorry, I had to split pgs. 2 and 3 due to WordPress file size limitations.  They’re meant to be seen as one piece.)