What a month. Between promoting my books, taking baby birthing classes with Sarah, and starting up three simultaneous comics projects with Dark Horse (while trying to maintain forward momentum on my next book), I'm pretty well ready to narrow my focus. This week's trip up to Seattle was great. The train is the only way to fly, and the University Bookstore signing was a lot of fun. Thank you to everyone that came out for the Monster Lecture! Sarah and I got a few hours the next day to meander through Seattle, so we went to Pike's Place and put together a picnic (that was a lot of P's!) for the train ride home.
We also got to stop in at Golden Age Collectibles (America's Oldest Comics Shop!), meet the staff, and sign a copy of Green River Killer. I remember frequenting that shop when I was just getting into comics and living up in the Seattle area, post-college. I didn't completely realize it while we were there, but that return visit as a comics professional sort of represents the end of a chapter in my career. Like in Lonesome Dove, where Captain Call comes back to the little village after his far-ranging adventure. Only, I made a bunch of friends along the way, rather than losing them to snakebites, hangin', and gangrenous legs.
That's a win for me, Captain Call.
Just about the hop on the train to Seattle! Before I do, a shout out to all the Seattleites: I will have some copies of Green River Killer with me, in addition to what the University Bookstore supplies, so if you want to pick one up, or otherwise get a copy signed, come on out to the U district store tonight! Details on the post below.
Now I'm off!
Tomorrow night (October 25th), I'll be up in Seattle doing a book reading/signing for Dear Creature at the University Bookstore. Stop on by for a brief lecture on monsterism, accompanied by behind-the-scenes photos from the making of the book!
Here are the details, from the University Bookstore site:
Tuesday • October 25 • 7pm
Dear Creature (TOR)
Reading & Book Signing
Comic artist Jonathan Case's Dear Creature follows the story of Grue, a deep sea monster whose exposure to Shakespeare has opened his heart and made him yearn to join the humans on the surface. There, a woman named Giulietta waits for her prayers to be answered in this love story like none you have ever read before.
Please Note: Autographed copies of books are only available after the event.
And, for those that didn't get to see the book trailer over the weekend, here it is again (THIS TIME with the web address at the end— Thanks, Steve!)
Here's a book trailer for Dear Creature! I hear tell there are more on the way, too. At the risk of sounding mundo pretentious, this one is Kubrick-ish. You'll see.
Also, a few more great reviews:
"... Whimsical, weird and wonderfully made."
"Dear Creature does pretty much everything right. It captures the essence of a 50′s monster movie. It works as a love story, as a tragedy and as a Shakespearean drama ..."
Green River Killer:
"... Sticks with you ... It’s so rare to have a ripped from the headlines, true life comic come out, and it’s fantastic it’s of this high quality."
This season has been full of great press for Dear Creature and Green River Killer, so I've organized it in an easily accessible page here on the site. Here are a couple of the more recent items:
"... Surpasses many of the comics and graphic novels being published today ... An excellent book, far better than an author/artist’s debut graphic novel has any right to be."
"Dear Creature, the debut novel from Jonathan Case is pretty much perfect. A witty and sweet mashup of old monster comics and ill-fated love stories, you should buy it if you have the chance."
Green River Killer:
"Read this one with the lights on."
For the full rundown of love for these books, head here.
Dear Creature's launch party this last Friday was an enormous success, and great fun. Lots of cookies. Lots of friends and new readers. Even a seaweed-wrapped bottle of bubbly— one of the coolest gifts I've received, for sure. Many thanks to Michael and Lucas at Bridge City Comics for being fantastic hosts, and to Sarah and my family for helping out with the details.
We also had copies of Green River Killer, and a limited art print (the one by my elbow... I think they still have a few, so go snatch them up!).
There was even Kiki Cola.
Christian Lipski over at Examiner.com gave a nice writeup on the event.
This week, I have a signing/event at Powell's Books on Hawthorne, so please swing by if you're in Portland and couldn't make it to the party! That starts at 7:30PM.
Also, I'm going to be doing a Twitter chat with a couple of other Tor authors on Wednesday from 1—2 PM Pacific Time. Hashtag is #TorChat.
A couple more great reviews for Dear Creature: "Dear Creature is easily one of the best books I've read this year."
"By combining excellent character development with superlative dialog, and a heartfelt emotional arc, Case has written one of the best novels I have read in years. And yes, that is novels as opposed to graphic novels.
And I think that it should be on everybody’s short-list for the Eisner award."
Tor and Dark Horse asked me to write something that talks about my work process and experience on Dear Creature and Green River Killer. Think writing comics is hard (you should)? Try writing about yourself writing comics! They just posted the article today to coincide with the release of Dear Creature, so head over here to give it a read!
From Steven Padnick's blog:
"Okay people! Today’s the day! Dear Creature is ON SALE RIGHT NOW. Now’s the time to run up to the store and buy all the copies they have and then demand they order 10 more.
Also, you know, you get to read it!
GO, BUY IT NOW:
BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE MY WORD FOR IT:
“With expressive art and clever writing in Dear Creature, Jonathan Case creates a unique and entertaining story of a man from the deep who just wanted to find a companion in life.”
—Previews Magazine, staff pick!
“This exuberantly weird comic novel succeeds in fusing ’50s monster movies and the works of William Shakespeare…Case’s b&w art sometimes stretches reality for humorous effect, but keeps even the strangest scenes from feeling merely grotesque. The script also generates a surprising amount of pathos for the lovers’ doomed passion. Startlingly assured for a debut effort.”
“Dear Creature is sure to be one of the quirkiest and most surprising love stories you will ever read.”
—Gene Yang, Eisner Award–Winner for American Born Chinese
“Every panel is beautifully composed… Case mastered it on his first project.”
—Steve Lieber, Eisner Award–Winner for Whiteout: Melt
“An impressive debut. I dream of a world where every cartoonist’s first graphic novel is this accomplished.”
—Derek Kirk Kim, Eisner Award–Winner for The Eternal Smile
“Every once in a while you get a beautiful anomaly like this black-and-white graphic novel by Portland-based artist and writer Case… marvelously entertaining and a weird side-door entry into both Shakespeare and graphic literature… A funny, bizarre, unexpected pleasure that gives a creature from the depths heart and soul.”
“Case is talented with both visual art and the written word; his art is some of the best brush pen work around, rich with detail and realism, and his writing, both plot and prose, is brilliant.”
—Ashley Cook, Giant Fire Breathing Robot
“Jonathan Case has a really dynamic style and real talent creating expressive faces. The clean line work and fantastic compositions enhances the creature’s story; of love and trying to fit in a world where you don’t feel you belong.”
—Doug Dorr, Portland Comics Blog
“I commend Jonathan Case for this excellent graphic novel. It is very rare to find a storyteller who is able to write something that is at once literary and meta-textual, while remaining touching and hilarious. To then combine that ear for dialog and prose with artistic talent is even rarer. If you enjoy sequential art, then hands down, you should pick up Dear Creature.
And I think that it should be on everybody’s short-list for the Eisner award.”
—Chris Modzelewski, The King of Elfland’s 2nd Cousin"
Green River Killer, my Dark Horse book by Jeff Jensen, continues to receive great press, this time from The A.V. Club. Noel Murray says:
"...Strong stuff that can stand with the best true-crime stories in any medium."
Head over here to read the full writeup, along with reviews of other fantastic comics coming out this fall.
Here's a bright spot in my day! A fantastic review for Dear Creature from Paul Goat Allen on B&N. Paul reviews for Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and the Chicago Tribune, and he loves Dear Creature. I'm grateful. Here's a snippet:
"The black-and-white illustrations were just masterful – it never ceases to amaze me how elite artists can convey so much with so little. Panel after panel, writer/illustrator Case skillfully develops numerous peripheral characters (like gung ho policeman Henry Craw and his inept protégé Larry), conveys complex emotions, and creates undeniably rich atmospherics.
Although Dear Creature was visually compelling, it’s the narrative that made this graphic novel such an unforgettable read. Here’s a perfect example. Grue vows to stop killing and consuming humans – with little support from his invertebrate friends.
Grue: “The only patient spirit I’ll meet is they that cast these telling bottles into the brine! As with the more I read, my bloodlust doth recede, so shall a contact with its source defeat the urge withal… I’m sure of it!”
Crab 1: “Uhy…”
Crab 2: “Prom night is coming.”
I loved this book, especially the ending. Stylistically, it brought me right back to the days of my youth when I used to love watching B-horror movies like Attack of the 50-Foot Woman and The Blob – except in this story, the monster doesn’t eat the girl, he gets the girl! Dear Creature was a fabulous read that gives all of the human monsters out there (myself included) hope that even in a world obsessed with superficiality, anyone can find true love, even if you’re a radioactive sea mutant…"
Thanks you, Mr. Allen!
If you'd like to read the full review, head over here.
I just found out from my editor that preorder copies of Dear Creature are on their way to me. That means next week I'll be signing them, fitting them with a piece of original art and booting them back out the door to you! If you don't know what I'm talking about, head over here to snag a limited edition (of 300) Dear Creature for you and yours. Here are examples of the little extras that come with those books:
Layouts from the book, some used, some unused. These are my favorite pieces of making a comic, and hardly anyone gets to see them because they get redone, refined, and finessed into the final art. I'm always looking for ways to tweak my approach so the energy in these layouts survives through the final art. It's challenging.
Sketches, scribbles, and rough designs. These are the bits and pieces that went into crafting the final characters and environments. I have hundreds of them, so I thought it would be fun to pass some of them on.
I'm anxious to get you your books!
Tor just put up this little Dear Creature comic I did for their October newsletter. It was a strange feeling to draw the characters again after two years, but they're well established in muscle memory.
At different points I thought it might be fun to do Dear Creature as an ongoing gag strip, but its subject matter is so specific that script options would have been pretty limited. Still, it was fun to do this one-off!