TWELVE, WELL, SHE CRIES, "DO OR DIE"--TWELVE REASONS WHY
So, before I go on, I should make mention of Christine Norrie in relation to 12 Reasons Why I Love Her. Long-time blog readers may remember that she was going to draw this book once upon a time, and she was great while I was writing the script, listening to my ideas and tossing in a couple of her own. Once it came time to get it all rolling, though, we just realized that her schedule and my schedule, as well as various other boring business details, weren't going to mesh. Rest assured, there is no backstage drama. You won't here us bitterly sniping on each other in separate bars next year in San Diego. We're still friends. Just sometimes the stars don't align. But she's still wonderful and you should watch for her book Breaking Up when it drops from Scholastic next year.
That said, when I set out to find a new artist, I was looking to start clean. Tabula rasa. I didn't want anyone aping Christine--which wouldn't be fair to any of us--so whoever it was would have free reign to express themselves. I just wanted them to have a pretty line. That was my only criteria, and one that seemed to frustrate my editor James Lucas Jones, who kept getting samples rejected as, "Not pretty enough."
Now, who is this mysterious Joelle Jones (no relation to James Lucas) who has the incredible power of compelling me to sing karaoke on a regular basis?
It's actually a bizarre story of fate not dissimilar to something I would actually write. I originally met her back in February when I signed her and her boyfriend up for their video account. I don't remember this, and neither does she; nor do we really remember the couple of other times she rented videos from me. I can see it in my mind now, but I think they're invented memories, placing someone in a familiar situation. It's all surprising, since I am a total birddog at the store, and new women are usually taken note of. And apparently one of my coworkers hit on her when she came in carrying some graphic novels she had checked out from the library across the street. Where was I?
Making it even more strange, she often would draw at the coffee shop Mason West used to work at, and being into comics, Mason inquired about her work. He liked it, and he told her, "You know, you should talk to this guy Jamie who works up the street at Trilogy. He's done a lot of work in comics." Still, no connection was made.
It finally came down to the Sexy Chix cover. People kept asking me who the middle photo of the top row was of, since apparently I'm still supposed to know everything (Denny, I'm looking at you). Eventually, I got frustrated with this, so I e-mailed my old boss Diana Schutz, the book's editor, and asked. It was, of course, Joelle--whom David Mack had walked over to Diana after checking out her portfolio at a recent Portland Comic Book Show. I asked Diana if she was looking for work, and she gave me Joelle's contact.
Turns out, we live on the same street, three blocks apart--and still, our plan to get togehter for coffee was still our first real meeting, where we would know and pay attention to who we were talking to.
If I have learned anything in life, it's that instinct is not to be ignored. We know things without knowing why or how or even that we know them, and I can trace back a multitude of mistakes to having gone against my gut. I had foreseen disaster, but I pretended I could avert it and thus paid the price. After talking with Joelle on the phone, I just knew I had found the one. This was going to be my new collaborator. It didn't keep me from being nervous, though; instead, it actually made the anxiety worse. What if I was wrong, and she showed up and sucked? Or what if I was blinded by this newfound belief that she was the one, and I couldn't see that she sucked? If there is a game for my mind to play, trust me, my mind is going to suit up and hit the field. But at the same time, said instincts have been right before. It's why I kept regular contact with Chynna Clugston, Ian Shaughnesexxy, and Christopher Mitten, for instance, before they were ready to get full-time work, or why I hired Jen Van Meter to write a Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic script without ever reading a word of her writing and dogged Kelly Sue DeConnick to pitch me a comic book, which she never did while I was an editor but who has delivered the goods nonetheless. This isn't tooting my horn, oh-look-what-a-genius-I-am style, as these people are successes due to their own incredible talent and would have been so regardless of whether they ever met me or not (and I wasn't even usually the first person to notice how good they were; I'm no credit hog, I just like what I like); I'm just saying if I get a feeling about a person, it often pays to put a bet down. (Of course, I have been wrong. Even a working clock isn't right twice a day. Or something.)
Obviously, this instinct was right again. Joelle's portfolio was great, showing a wide range of work. Even better, we had a similar mindset about certain things. 12 Reasons Why I Love Her sits alongside The Everlasting as what I consider to be my best work. It was important to me that I have a partner for it that is on the same wavelength, who I can talk to about Audrey Hepburn films and our cats and such. It makes creative communication all the more easy when you know going in that the other person is going to understand what the hell you're trying to say.
Though, I should maybe out Ms Jones for her total geek side, too. I am catsitting for her at the moment, and the keychain she gave me is a Jean Gray dogtag. Wotta nerd! And while she can get me to sing karaoke, not even she can convince me to give Lost another try.
Anyway, that's the story of how this came about. Given the new Oni blog's focus on giving readers a glimpse of in-development projects, I am sure we will continue to leak stuff as it's all happening. I also have a domain for the book, so at some point it should be getting it's own site. As you're now painfully aware, I'm super stoked to finally see this book coming together, so expect good things.
Current Soundtrack: Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine (official release version); Gorillaz, Demon Days-era G-sides
Current Mood: ditzy
[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2005 Jamie S. Rich