All Over But The Coloring

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What you’re seeing above (and click on the image for a closer look) is the final pages of Marvels: Eye of the Camera #6, drawn by the meticulous and amazing Jay Anacleto.
Not the last pages of the story, mind you, but the last pages of art to be finished. It’s pages two and three of the issue; it was simply a complex enough shot that Jay saved it for last. It’s already been lettered (from a partially-done version*), as has the rest of the issue. And most of the issue’s been colored, as well, so once this last spread is as well, the book will be all ready to go off to press, and appear in comics stores and get collected in a nice hardcover and all that. It’s been a long, long journey (even longer for this much-delayed final issue), but the end has finally arrived.
[*and I’ll throw in here that when the partially-finished version came in, my reaction was, “This is only partially finished? It looks great! Why couldn’t we just use this?” And then the finished version came in, and my reaction was, basically, “Guhh. Pret-ty.” And that’s why the difference; Jay sees more than I do, and then makes it real…]
It’ll be weird not to be working on this book any more. We started it in 2002, with the initial idea that it could be a 10th anniversary project, celebrating the original Marvels series. It rapidly became clear there was no way it could come out for the 10th anniversary, and we started making jokes about it being a 15th anniversary book. Which is what it turned out to be—Marvels #1 came out in late November 1993, and Marvels: Eye of the Camera #1 came out in early December 2008.
And the first five issues came out more or less on time. They were moved on the schedule a couple of times, but when they started coming out, they came out monthly. Except this last one, which I suppose stands as a sterling example in the “Why didn’t they get it done faster/bring in a new artist/wait ’til it was done before releasing any of them” free-floating Internet argument.
In the end, the quality of the artwork answers the “Why didn’t they bring in a new artist” option, at least—this issue looks as gorgeous as the rest of the series, and when collected together it’ll be so much better than if there was a sudden stylistic change along the way. Whether there were ways to speed up production or whether it was a feasible option to hold the whole series until now, I couldn’t say.
But it looks gorgeous, it’s finally done, I’ll be proud to have this book on my shelf…
…and after eight years, it’ll take some adjusting to the idea that it won’t be in my “Current Projects” folder any more.
Onward!

Through the Mail Slot

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I just finished a difficult script, so let me catch up on some e-mail that’s stacked up.
First, a question from Brian Cunningham:

Sorry if you get asked this a lot, but I had a look on your website and I couldn’t find the answer. My question is, will you be writing any more Conan tales for Dark Horse? And if so, will Cary Nord return to do the artwork? I certainly hope so!
Glad you liked our tenure on Conan, sir.
There’s at least one more Conan project I’d like to do. When we started out, all that framing-sequence business with the Prince and the Wazir was setting something up, a big end-of-epic story we thought of as “Conan the Legend.” And at times, we’ve talked about doing a big mini-series called (wait for it) Conan the Legend to wrap it all up.
I’d like to do it someday, Cary’s expressed an interest, Scott Allie’s brought it up a time or two…
So it’s certainly possible. If and when it happens, I sure hope Cary will be available, along with Dave Stewart and Richard Starkings, so we can do it with the original team.
And I say “at least one more” because there are times I’d like to do a Janissa mini-series, to do the character arc I had planned for her, a Conan and the Bone Woman mini-series, maybe an adaptation of “The Scarlet Citadel” and/or Queen of the Black Coast”…
Nathan Thomas asks:

Any news on the final issue of Marvels: Eye of the Camera? Or did I miss it? (But I don’t think I did…)
Hope all is going well with you, miss you on the Avengers. (But then, I miss the Avengers…)
No, you didn’t miss Eye of the Camera #6. The good news is, we’re only waiting on three more pages of art before it can go off to the printer and become a reality. The pages we do have are being lettered and colored, so once those last few come in, the fine folks at Marvel can turn it around fast and get it off to press.
So it looks like we’re almost there. And thanks for the kind words on Avengers.
And to wrap up, Nick Stroffolino:

I was just writing to thank you for your column “Breaking in Without Rules.” That was equal parts depressing and enlightening. I really appreciate your frankness, everyone else I’ve read seems more interested in sugar coating things. Really it was like Steven King’s On Writing for comic books.
I haven’t read much else of what you’ve written on the site yet but a friend passed me the link to your article and he was right I think I really needed to read it. After running submissions for over a year to various indy companies it was very enlightening. I don’t know if reading it will get me close to being published or even if it really points me in the right direction but at least I know not to just spin my wheels aimlessly watching the mail box so I’m really glad you decided to write it all the same.
Also I love Marvels (I’m sure you get that a lot) and I’m an on again, off again fan of Astro City. I kind of felt like Astro City is the modern version of Wild Cards (yes, I know they started that up again lately but the books are not the same as they once were) and I really enjoyed your run on GL in Wednesday Comics (which my friends liked to call the hot sheets). I haven’t read much of your other work but after reading your article I’ll be keeping my eye out for your name on things. With the amount of mediocrity in comics right now it seems like you get a lot more bang for your buck to follow writers these days instead of characters.
Good luck in your future endeavors, thanks again for putting “Breaking in Without Rules” online and keep up the good work.
Thanks, Nick. I’ll do my best. And good luck with your writing endeavors.
I can’t wait to see the Wednesday Comics collection, myself—just seeing a photo of it here makes me all itchy to have one myself. And I’m told that a fresh-from-the-printer copy of The Wizard’s Tale is on the way to me and should arrive Tuesday. I’ll have to figure out my iPhone’s camera, so I can put some pictures of it up here.
But for now, back to work.

Through the Mail Slot

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Some of the mail that’s come in since Busiek.com launched…
From Chris Wiedrich:

Will you be attending SDCC this month? If so, will you be doing any signings? I will only be attending on Friday but hope you might make an appearance that day.
Thanks for the time.
You can always see my upcoming con appearances and such by checking Find over on the left to see where I’ll be. I will indeed be at the San Diego Con, Friday and Saturday at least. My schedule’s listed there, but I’ll put it up in a blog post as well.
From Paul Marrack:

I just wanted to point out that on your awards page you left out the Eisner for Best Single that Conan #0 won, or rather shared with an issue of The Goon, in 2004.
Really happy you finally have a website like this. Am looking forward to the announcements of your new projects.
Thanks, Paul. Fixed that award entry; much appreciated.
And there’ll be at least one new project announcement (plus a welcome announcement about another project) at San Diego, at least, and more in time…
From Karen Beilharz

So glad to see you’ve got a website! Friends introduced me to Astro City a couple of years ago and I’ve been enjoying it muchly. Also, I thought ‘Secret Identity’ was one of the best things I read last year.
P.S. Would love to see how you write comic scripts!
Getting some script samples up in the Read section is very much on the things-to-do list. I was going to put up a page of my incomprehensible plot outlining, as well, but I’d just cleared out all the old stuff about a week before the blog launched, and the current outlines I have lying around are for as-yet unpublished work. So I’ll have to do that, but after something’s come out and before I’ve thrown the notes in the recycling bin…
From Crow Truett:

I don’t normally write these things, and you probably don’t read each of these silly fan letters. However, I felt compelled after reading your work on Marvels: Eye of the Camera (I just finished issue 5) to tell you directly (sort-of) that it is without a doubt the most beautiful and touching this I’ve read all year. Thank you for returning to Phil Sheldon. Your portrayal of Phil’s decline is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. When I was younger and read Marvels for the first time I was captivated, and I wondered what could happen next; what would Phil Sheldon think of the “marvels” as the stories told during the eighties and nineties unfolded? Thank you for addressing that, and thank you for making it so human.
Very glad you’ve liked it, Crow!
And on that note, I’ll mention that Marvels: Eye of the Camera #6 is still progressing—and as soon as it’s all drawn, I’m sure Marvel will have the issue and the subsequent collections out post-haste. I’d have preferred it if they’d waited until all six issues could come out on time, but for one reason or another, they chose to get the first five out when they did and the sixth when it’s done.
I do have to say, if there was going to be a delay between any two issues of Eye of the Camera, between #5 and #6 is the best spot for it. So I’m glad of that, at least.