Limited Control is a blog devoted to exploring the work of filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, including tangential connections to his movies as represented in other people's work. Yesteday they added an entry on the Ghost Dog comic I edited at Oni Press.
I was quite happy to see this pop up in my Google Alerts, as this is one of my favorite comics and one that is quite often forgotten due to its limited and irregular release schedule. The link has quotes from Scott Morse, who wrote and illustrated the comic book, and he mostly has it right. Given that it's from an old interview, he is being diplomatic in terms of the artist he replaced. The person who was going to draw it, whose name I couldn't come up with no matter how much I searched my memory (so don't even ask), was brought to us by the studio. They had been trying to put together this promo comic all on their own, and it wasn't working. There was no script, and someone had hired this artist. He was a decent draftsman, as I recall, but his style was very boring, very generic. He was probably someone's friend, some art director's cousin or something. We didn't really want him on the book, and when it became obvious that the guy couldn't handle the workload to get it done in the timeframe required, I did nothing to try to convince him otherwise.
The three-week turnaround is generally unheard of, but we really did move that fast. The movie was going to be released in a matter of weeks, and the studio wanted this one-shot comic to be used as a promo item and was mainly going to be handing it out at press junkets for the movie. It wasn't solicited through Diamond in their main catalogue, we had long since passed the deadline for books coming out that month, so it was buried in one of their weekly updates and only garnered modest orders. We got it done, however, thanks in large part to the Herculean efforts of my pal Chip Carter to make sure it got through approvals smoothly. The only hiccup I recall came on the day we were going to press, and Chip left me a message before start of business regarding problems with the cover. If I recall, that is the semi-notorious morning where Joe Nozemack and I walked in the office, he saw me checking voicemail, and then the next thing he knew I was savagely beating my phone with its own receiver in a gangland-style version of "Why are you hitting yourself?" Of course, the change turned out to be very minor, which just goes to prove that if you can avoid leaving ambiguous messages for people, you probably should.
The Ghost Dog - The Way of the Samurai movie did modest business, though it does have a dedicated and ever-growing following. The comic was an even more modest success as far as reaching a large audience, though we all did okay financially since the studio was paying for the copies they needed, which was a decent print run. It didn't have to sell to make a profit. Much like the movie, thought, it is one of those curios we hear about from time to time from a random fan who managed to find it. Anyone who reads it loves it.
As if paralleling that, every time we thought we had run out of copies, we'd find a cache of twenty more hidden in our offices. I often wish I would somehow find a whole case of them, because it's a book I would love to have to hand out to my friends, whether they love comics or not. It's a book I can talk about to people who aren't otherwise impressed with my former career that makes them impressed. They know Jim Jarmusch is pretty cool, and they know Ghost Dog is pretty cool, so how can they not be?
Unfortunately, a quick look at the Oni site shows it's not listed in their store. I guess they haven't found any extra copies lately.
* In comics, "gutter" is another term for the spaces between the panel borders and also around the page. I explain this lest someone think I am somehow insulting the book, which, being the internet, someone might even though the rest of the post clearly refutes that. The title is a play on the My Latest Novel song "Ghost in the Gutter. Just so you know how my reference-laden mind works.
Current Soundtrack: Brian Eno, Here Come the Warm Jets
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All text (c) 2008 Jamie S. Rich