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When the Sea Dies

Hello, friends. Today, Chris Mautner is here, catching up with Bone creator Jeff Smith on the occasion of the final, full-color collection of his sci-fi noir followup, RASL. Here’s an exchange:

When you started RASL you had a couple different publishing things going. You had the pamphlet, you had the oversized collections and you had the pocket collections. Why so many different versions? What worked, what didn’t work and what did you take away from that experience?

The reason we did more than one version, quite honestly, is that RASL didn’t get a lot of traction after the initial burst of publicity that “The Bone guy is going to do something new!” It was not really taking, I could tell. So we got the first oversized trade out, that was the size I wanted to do it in, but again, I didn’t really feel like it was getting traction. I didn’t hear it being talked about or hardly even being reviewed.

This is one of the advantages of being a self-publisher: You can move fast on your feet. You don’t have to give up. I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to fix it. So we thought maybe that first trade has 115 pages in it but it might not be enough of the story. Maybe we should have waited until we had a little more story. So that’s why we did the pocket book version, which was – it wasn’t the size we were interested in. We wanted to get two of the larger books, so we’d have double the story and see if that would catch people’s attention. And that in fact did work. We started seeing reviews and began to get a bit of traction.

And then, o boy, Dan Nadel himself has decided to open his trap and opine on the first issue of Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III’s The Sandman: Overture. Has his old love stayed true? I don’t want to spoil things, so I’ll just share his review’s first observation: “It’s an awfully well-constructed comic book.” Later, he says this: “This is pedantic and cloying prose.”

Elsewhere:

—First, the sad news: Silver Age artist Nick Cardy passed away last night at the age of 93. Mark Evanier has an early memorial. A lot more are sure to follow, including a full obituary from this site.

—Reviews & Criticism. Adam McGovern reviews Frank Santoro’s Pompeii for the Los Angeles Review of Books. Rob Clough is using the month of November to profile a different CCS-affiliated cartoonist every day. Ng Suat Tong reviews a child’s comic available on online auction and compares it to later art comics.

—Interviews. Tom Spurgeon has a long interview with Jeet Heer, regarding his recent monograph on François Mouly, and a recent critical anthology he co-edited. On a comedy podcast that I haven’t listened to yet, the always-funny Julia Wertz is a guest.

—News. Anyone aspiring cartoonist who hasn’t yet read Megan Rosalarian Gedris’s explanation of why she’s taking down her popular Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space webcomic really ought to. Via Kevin Melrose comes news that a family in Kitchener, Ontario complained to the press after their 3-year-old daughter received Jack T. Chick comics for Halloween.


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