David Lapham's Stray Bullets will return to active publication at Image Comics in 2014, Image officially announced Tuesday. Lampham's series, which began in 1995 through his own independent El Capitan Books suspended publication in 2007 so Lapham could devote more time to his freelance work.
In March 2014, Image will simultaneously release Stray Bullets #41, the unreleased/suspended final issue of the series' last story arc, a collection of the 41 released issues called Stray Bullets: The Über Alles Edition, along with Stray Bullets: Killers #1, the beginning of a new story arc.
All the digital back issues of previously released 40 issue will be available immediately on the Image Comics website (imagecomics.com) and the official Image Comics iOS app, as well as on comiXology on the web (comixology.com), iOS, Android, Google Play, Apple iBooks and Amazon Kindle.
The publisher held a press conference in advance of the official announcement about the revival. Image's PR & Marketing Coordinator Kat Salazar began a Q & A with Lapham, asking Lapham why he decided to Stray Bullets?
"Well Stray Bullets is home to us and it was just a matter of other priorities, we started a family and other priorities prevented us from giving the 100% commitment we had to the book for so many years and so we've been figuring out for a way to get back into it,” Lapham responded. “So with this deal we were able to come together and work together on this." He went on to say that while it was great working on a lot of the superhero characters that he grew up with, "[Stray Bullets] has always been home to me and I couldn't wait to get back to it."
Salazar then asked with how he's starting a new story arc and finishing an old one, what was that like and if he planned it that way.
"Yeah, I mean obviously the way we went on hiatus and left something dangling, there was no necessarily perfect way to go back to it, but to give fans everything I promised before – answers - and to simultaneously move forward the best way, was to wrap up the old business and start up the new business at one time." He continued, explaining how he wanted to start fresh and wants new people to come in so they decided to come back with a new #1 and renumber by arcs.
The AP started off the question and answer session from press, asking, "after bringing this back after such a long absence, did you sort of re-familiarize yourself with your creations, or was it like the old cliché goes of riding a bike?"
"It was a little bit of both. Obviously once we were on and re-read everything that came before and took a minute to get back into the mindset of Stray Bullets." Lapham mentioned that after talking in depth to Maria and what direction to take, it came back really quickly. "It's surprising how exciting it is to come back to."
The Beat asked, since the original run was self-published, what's it like now working with Image?
"Over the years since we stopped, we had a lot of great offers from a lots of companies to do Stray Bullets and it would just never click with us that this was the right way to come back. The important aspect is that Maria and I was working on this book together and Image was the first company that just got that. It's what they wanted. Aside from the Image "i" on the cover, it's the same 32 pages of what we want to bring to you. I mean, Image was founded by artists that wanted to take control of their work, so I think that was in their mission statement, and that's what they came to us with. So from our perspective from going to self-published to this is that other than having the Image name we're able to do the same thing we've always done and able to give readers the same book we want to give."
Multiversity was next. "Will this include any new characters or just focus the original characters in the original series?"
"Well there are some characters in the original series as well as new characters. One of the elements about Stray Bullets was that every issue was a self-contained story, so I was always able to invent whatever characters I needed to tell. So yes, there will be new characters as the story dictates, but it is a larger sort of tapestry."
Newsarama asked, “Do you feel like your style has evolved since coming out originally and even up to Stray Bullets: Open The Goddamn Box which was released in 2009?
"Yeah I think it has,” Lapham said. “I mean this is something I always say when I critique people's work, I tell them that you always improve and you keep on improving otherwise you're going backwards. One of the elements of this is to bring everything that I've learned from going on a hiatus from Stray Bullets and the ways that it involved bringing it back to what I can do now.
CBR: "What is the release schedule going to be for the new Killers arc?"
"We're starting in March and it'll be monthly. We're going by arc, so my schedule is to go monthly with the book."
Comic Vine: "So we can assume the new #1 will be new reader friendly?"
"Yeah I mean one of things I always tried to get out of Stray Bullets is that I always designed for the type of reader I am. I don't go into every series early and when I pick up stuff I don't want to be confused by what I'm reading. One of the elements of Stray Bullets is that every issue is a story so every issue is new reader-friendly." Lapham continued, saying, "When you start getting into 30 and 40 issues, though I think that people see that and they feel alienated and feel like they have to go back and read all that stuff. So I think what we're doing with Killers #1 is that it's new reader-friendly because it says #1 and we’re telling people you can jump in here so it makes it easy for people to read.”
Image Director of Business Development Ron Richards then reminded the press on the call that the entire run will be available digitally today [Tuesday[ so new readers would have time to catch up if they decided they wanted to. He even mentioned that the first four issues will be available for free.
"If you're not hooked by issue four, Stray Bullets is probably not for you", said Lapham.
Comics Alliance: "So it's been a number of years since Stray Bullets, so do you think this new series is any different from what you would have done without the hiatus?"
Lapham replied, “I really don't know. I want to say that when I work and write whether it's a superhero thing or not, I have notions that comes to me while I'm working on the concept. So in order to do it, I have to run with those and as far as Killers I was worried that the concepts I had from when I stopped so I know I am going in the direction I would have gone if I didn't stop. I couldn't possibly tell you if it would be the same story as it is now, but for me, I'm sure there would have been differences but I couldn't tell you what they were." He again mentioned how Stray Bullets was very accommodating to whatever story he wanted to tell without being held back by continuity.
IGN: "Can you talk about the work that went into going into restoring the original issues and hardcovers, or were there any modifications with the lettering or art?"
“No, I didn't make any modifications. I just wanted the past stuff be left alone,” Lapham said, as he felt it was his best writing at that time. Re-reading it all, he contemplated all the changes he could have made, but this time around he was stepping back on of the earlier issues where he felt he didn't draw so well or the lettering was a bit off he still feels it was very punk rock. "The emotion is there like with the simplicity to it and it's just raw and that's what Stray Bullets is and what I hope to bring back to it. To edit the flaws would be a disservice to it." He went on to say how it impacted people at the time and how to change that would be wrong. As far as preparing to go digital, the process has changed since then. Lapham mentioned how he sold very little of his original art so they had “all this stuff” to scan and was a whole lot more work than they thought, but they were satisfied.
Richards then mentioned that the Uber Alles Edition is a paperback edition in the vein of the Walking Dead Compendiums and it's clocking in at over 1,200 pages and will be 59.99, but with an only one-time printing for the direct market. "So if people want this, be sure to get their orders in by March because we're only doing this once!"
Salazar then made final rounds for any follow up questions, with ComicVine asking if there is any plan to split up the original 41 issues into separate trades? Lapham responded that they wanted to make the impact with the single edition, so not at first.
"We're going to start with the digital, then the entire collection, and then we can back up and do the individual arc trades down the line."
Comics Alliance closed it out with a question about the series longevity, and if there’s a finale in mind.
"I have not thought about that. I'll just get to it when I do," Lapham said.