Thursday, February 15, 2007

Digging Out,
& Citro Speaks!

Hey, folks, Bissette horror comics are back!

Well, sort of.

Here's my cover art for the upcoming Accent UK anthology Zombies, just in from editors Dave West and Colin Mathieson. Their designer Andy Bloor took my black-and-white original (after Dave and Colin chose their favorite of the three potential cover images I submitted) and dressed it up with this straightforward bullseye-to-the-cornea use of color, which works beautifully.

Kudos to you, Andy! I love it.

Colin writes to say, "the issue will be released in the UK in May at the Comic Expo event in Bristol 12th/13th May, (with final line up and cover price shortly to be fixed) but we are also looking at possible distribution through Diamond so the book can be widely available to our colonial cousins! More to come on all that later..."

Of the Accent UK contributors from their side of the Atlantic, it's worth noting again that this whole project emerged from a conversation with John Reppion, Leah Moore and Colin and Dave in Denmark, the seed for which was planted in front of the Accent UK booth at the Copenhagen convention Komiks.DK 2006 we all attended in March/April. If I may quote a May 31st email from Colin, he recalls, "It's actually John's fault that we changed the theme on hearing of his zombie fixation and Leah's banter with him about it ("Oh you and your zombies!"), which made us realize that Zombies had that immediacy and fun element which could be interpreted in lots of different ways for an anthology, and would also prove an interesting rematch for the Moore, Reppion and Hitchcock team, so a quick editorial meeting on our return to the UK and we were away!"

So, leading the pack will be a new collaboration from the Leah Moore, John Reppion and Dave Hitchcock team. Colin and Dave first sent out the invitation to contribute to their Accent UK circle (and yours truly) on October 1st, 2006, and the project soon swelled beyond the parameters of their previous anthology Monsters to become Accent UK's first book-format, squarebound anthology. Once Dave and Colin responded positively to my suggestion that I work with Dan and Maia on stories, and extend the invitation to CCS students, I was fully committed and did my best to give Accent UK something memorable from the US. Proud to be part of it!

The other UK contributors include Dave West and Colin Mathieson themselves, cover designer Andy Bloor (solo and working with writer Kieron Gillen); Kieren Brown & Tom Jileson, Jason Cobley & Paul Harrison-Davies, Bridgeen Gillespie, Taboo vets Shane Oakley and Gary Crutchley (solo stories, not collaborating this time around), Laura Howell, David Baillie, Andrew Cheverton (solo and a collaboration with Tim Keable), Garry Brown, Owen Johnson, James Gray, Darren Ellis & Roland Bird, Graeme Neil Reid, Paul Cartwright, Jon Ayre & One Neck, Phil Rigby & Manoel Magalhães, Benjamin Dickson, Tony Hitchman & Leonie O'Moore, Indio, Chris Dingsdale & Dan Denholt, Matt Boyce, Andy Winter & Natalie Sandells, Matt Timson, Chris Doherty and others I don't know about as yet.

Want to see more? Well, Dave will be updating
  • the Accent UK site this weekend to include all this and more,
  • so keep that website tabbed on your computer for updates. I'll keep mum about my son Dan's and my own contributions to the anthology until we get closer to publication date. I will, however, offer snapshots of the horrific stories and art contributions from the Center for Cartoon Studies artists/writers: Morgan Pielli, Jeremiah Piersol, B.C. Sterrett, Sean Morgan, Matt Young, Chuck Forsman, Bob Oxman, Denis St. John and Jaci June -- including links to their respective sites -- in the coming weeks.

    That said, in reply to emails I've been receiving since the weekend announcement of this project: No, I'm not out of retirement. My retirement from the US comics industry stands.

    I've drawn comics for myself all along, in my sketchbooks and such, and happily open up when it involves CCS, my son Dan, daughter Maia or friends; with Dan's Hot Chicks Take Huge Shits zine, the Trees & Hills anthology of last fall, and this upcoming Zombies collection (for a UK publisher), I'm indeed visible in print again, enjoying playing in the medium again, and glad some of what I'm up to will reach those of you who care. But this doesn't mean you'll be seeing me in the DC, Marvel, Dark Horse or Image plantations again -- far from it (& them). So quell any such anticipation, folks. If I do pursue inroads to future publication, it won't be in the US comics industry proper, such as it remains.

    But if you do care, you'll read about whatever the heck it may be, and see samples of the art and/or creative effort, here first. To quote you-know-who, "'Nuff said!"

    Just shoveled out before starting this post -- as of 5 AM, we ended up with 20+ inches here in Windsor. I got out early to shovel because once the sun hits this snow, it's gonna get heavy to shovel; no doubt, there's lots of black ice under this snow cover on the roads, too. Luckily, we've got no wind here on Taylor Drive, quite unlike our old Marlboro home, which was always buffeted with winds in these kinds of storms. My stepson Mike told Marge last night that over in Claremont, NH (about a half hour from our Windsor digs) they were getting heavy wind last night, creating massive snowdrifts. We've none of that here, the snow lays where and as it fell.

    Shoveled out our front steps and walk, over to the propane fill 'cap' further into the front yard, then stomped on down to the foot of the driveway to see if our morning paper was there. Viola! There it was, atop the snow, just tossed -- had I waited till the plows were out, we would have found it in the spring.

    The storm is truly over: the sky is crystal clear, the stars (and a sprinkle of the Milky Way) visible horizon to horizon. I took a little walk around the neighborhood, until my glasses fogged so I could no longer see... by then my beard was crusted with frost and ice, too, so back home I went, scraped out in front of the garage doors, and came back in to hear the phone ring. Marge's school is delayed two hours, so she's able to sleep in again, lucky woman. I can hear her snoozing downstairs.

    I've got the TV on: Burlington's WCAX (Channel 3) is reporting 40 inches in Jefferson, NH; here in VT, I caught reports for Bolton Valley, 40 inches; Stowe, 29 inches; 24+ in Burlington (now in top ten biggest snowstorms in that area in recorded history), etc. We're all digging out now, eh?

    One of my best friends is Joe Citro, writer/novelist/folklorist extraordinaire, and Joe has
  • long had a website, graced with his grinning mug and tons of info about the man, his work and his obsessions.
  • Well, those he cares to share with the public, that is.

    But now, Joe's taken his maiden voyage
  • into the blogosphere, posting all-new research, stories and photos!
  • Joe has launched the blog with a complete story about the mysterious Bristol "treasure mines," complete with some truly evocative photos Joe snapped himself during a summer visit to this most treacherous of all VT locales -- it's tough to keep your footing amid the rocky debris from a century past, and Joe risked neck and limb (and ankles) to explore this terrain first-hand.

    It's quite a story, one that still scars the landscape of the Bristol woods and hillsides...

    "Shafts caved in, filled with stifling gas, or flooded with water. As much effort went into reclaiming holes as digging them. But no treasure came to light. After more than twelve years and thousands of dollars, Uncle Sim gave up.

    But unlike the rock face of South Mountain, Uncle Sim’s faith was never shattered. About a decade later he returned alone. He had met a new conjurer who assured him that by moving just a few stones he could open a passage leading directly to the treasure...."

    This is just the beginning of what will no doubt be an entertaining and at times astounding blog resource, particularly to those of you who are already Citro readers/fans/acolytes and/or folklore and stories "that might not be fiction," as Joe prefers to call 'em. And he always calls 'em as he sees 'em.

    Joe and I have dabbled with a number of pet projects over the years. Some have yielded results you can still purchase on Joe's site --

    Prominent among our dabblings remains the still-in-print & selling nicely, thank you, paperback book The Vermont Ghost Guide, which sports a full-color cover painting (of Emily on her famed Stowe, VT bridge) by yours truly and a plethora of black-and-white Bissette illustrations inside. This was among the most rewarding of all our ventures (just got a royalty check last week), and it's an ideal guide for driving around VT and seeking out the state's weirdest haunts: the book is designed around the VT map on the back cover, number-coding the locations, town by town, village by village, of the alphabetically-arranged spectral stories inside.

    Joe and I also "cooked the book" a bit: there's one, and I do mean one, VT ghost story in the book that we completely made up! It does feature one of my coolest b&w illos, and we milk it for all it's worth. See if you can figure out which ghost is the phoney, folks -- but you'll have to buy a copy to play the game.

    I also did the cover art for the University Press of New England paperback edition of Joe's 'stories that might not be fiction' tome Green Mountains, Dark Tales -- which is still available from Joe's site, and well worth picking up.

    I also have one color full-page illustration (of the Pig-man) and a photo of my car -- with Marge and I waving from the top window -- poised at Greenfield, MA's 'zero gravity' zone in Joe's most recent book, Weird New England.

    We also collaborated on a great full-color cartoon map of our native state marking (and illustrating) many more of our favorite Vermont's Haunts. Alas, that beautiful poster-size map is long out-of-print, and no longer available. Maybe someday we'll find a way to get it back into print... but for now, that's the scoop.

    Have a great Thursday -- time to go shovel some more...

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