Desert Island Comics – Episode 20 – Jamie S. Rich
Here we are again, familiar tune wafting across the sands, a lone castaway lies on the beach, surrounded by 8 comics he simply couldn’t be without….
This week it’s Jamie S. Rich, our first transatlantic castaway. Author of prose novels; Cut My Hair, I Was Someone Dead, The Everlasting, and Have You Seen The Horizon Lately, and the graphic novels Love the Way You Love (with Marc Ellerby), 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, and You Have Killed Me (all with art by Joelle Jones), and Spellcheckers (with Jones and Nicolas Hitori de.
Jamie’s newest novel is the serialized book Bobby Pins and Mary Janes, and he and Jones are working on the follow up to You Have Killed Me, as well as Volume 3 of Spellcheckers, due out in 2013. Also out in 2013, and just announced by Oni Press is Rich’s new online series with Natalie Nourigat; A Boy And A Girl:
But right now, he’s most excited about his new Image series with Mike Norton on art; It Girl And The Atomics – featuring characters created by Mike Allred, and due in stores on August 8th – yes, this very week!
Desert Island Comics Episode 20 – Jamie S.
As my own bibliography grows, I hope it begins to reflect two things: (a) a fundamental interest in human behavior, and (b) a lack of genre restriction. While most of my work can be boiled down to romance or crime, and often both, I think the August release of It Girl and the Atomics #1 will surprise people by being a solid, old-school superhero romp. Image Comics and Mike Allred have really let myself and Mike Norton run wild with the characters, and in so may ways, it couldn’t be further from my forthcoming project with Natalie Nourigat and Oni Press, A Boy and a Girl. While fundamentally a love story, A Boy and a Girl’s futuristic setting has allowed for many new areas of exploration in my writing.
To that end, I think once people see what my favorite comics are, they’ll begin to understand a little bit more about my mercurial nature.
1. Jaime Hernandez – The Death of Speedy Ortiz:
I was tempted to take the big fat Locas book, but it was this storyline that really made an impression on me as a young reader. There was so much feeling packed into its pages, and also a sense of mystery, of peering through the veil to something other than what we know, even though it was wholly grounded in reality.
From the boss, and also a book I edited back in the day, when I did such things. I think it’s Mike’s most realized work, the most complete. The blending of comics and sci-fi and music and history, it’s just too perfect.
Wagner is up there with Allred in terms of guys who have career paths I admire and seek to emulate. Matt is fiercely independent, and he always does as he pleases. I wouldn’t be working in comics if not for Grendel. Literally. My #1 fan status led to editor Diana Schutz hiring me at Dark Horse. Plus, it’s a book that was consistently changing, always finding new ways forward, providing a model to follow for staying fresh.
The first 50 issues of this series in particular is just an amazing journey, both for the characters and the creators. The artist Chris Bachalo became while drawing this book is light years from the one he was when he started. Milligan handles the ever-changing moods of a character whose madness has gotten the better of him with a devilish aplomb, while his rendering of the heartbreak of failed love keeps the whole thing emotionally honest. Kathy is more than a side character. Like Speedy Ortiz, she is an enduring figure whose loss inspired true heartbreak in all who read the comic.
This book came over to America in the 1980s as part of the first wave of translated manga, and it was so different than what up until that point most of us thought of as “Japanimation.” I wish more serious-minded manga like this was the norm in terms of what was imported to the rest of the world rather than a lot of what we get.
6. John Byrne, Alpha Flight:
While much of what seemed so innovative when I was young is now kind of hokey (the issue where Snowbird goes into a snowstorm and its all white panels was clearly a deadline cheat), I still love it. John Byrne’s old work is an inspiration to this day, especially when writing It Girl and the Atomics.
7. Renee French, Marbles in My Underpants:
Another one I edited, and a book I am particularly proud of. It essentially collected everything Renee did in the 20th Century. Some of the weirdest and most compelling comics you’re ever going to find. Plus, Renee herself is so charming, having one of her books around will always make me smile, even when desert-island life looks its most bleak.
8. Scott Morse, Visitations:
What can I say? I edited books I loved. Morse’s rumination on spirituality and the afterlife and what it meant to be human is still one of my favorites of his rather mighty canon. And apparently, I really like books about death.
Luxury: My cat. I need Sadie around because she is so good at ignoring all the stupid stuff I say and my propensity to burst into song. Which is going to happen more and more as I go stir crazy stranded on this hypothetical island.
[Alas - inanimate objects only! A specially composed video documentary of Sadie responding to as many permutations of Jamie's singing as we can think of perhaps? But instead Jamie replied with this....]
The world’s fattest moleskin notebook and a pen. I know this sounds crazy, but I need to write. It’s bad enough on a day to day when I am in civilization. If I don’t write, my head doesn’t get sorted out, my thinking grows muddled, and I can’t shake certain ideas, they become obsessions. I can’t imagine how terrible it would be on a desert island all alone with no outlet, so I have to have something to exorcise my thoughts.