Catching up with Jamie S. Rich
Catching up with Jamie S. Rich
The biggest change to how things are done is that I am now working with a literary agency, Baker's Mark, and my wonderful agent Gretchn Stelter, to make a plan of attack for my work, so it's no longer I just do it and toss it out there. That has been a learning process, but I think one that will benefit me in the long run.NRAMA: A long-talked about project that's close to coming out is You Have Killed Me with artist Joelle Jones. Can you refresh our memory on this book? JSR: It's a project that Joëlle suggested while she was drawing 12 Reasons Why I Love Her. She said she wanted to do something in the hardboiled tradition, something that drew on our appreciation for detective fiction and film noir. It's a 1930s crime story starring our own gumshoe, Antonio Mercer. He's hired to find a rich woman who has disappeared a matter of days before her wedding. The wrinkle, though, is that she used to be his fiancee, he grew up rich, and the family has turned to him hoping he will understand how she thinks in ways that someone who doesn't know her wouldn't.
Joëlle's work on the book is phenomenal and well worth the wait. She drew a lot of it concurrently with Token, and I think having so much work made her a better artist and she's really brought all those muscles she developed to You Have Killed Me. She's been doing all the tones by hand, using old fashioned zip. It looks astounding. Every line she draws makes me wish I was a better writer, because I think I'm going to get a bunch more of those "is she really going out with him" reviews where they wonder why she's not collaborating with a scribe more deserving. Trust me, I wonder, too. I worship the paper she inks on.
I think Oni is soliciting it for May or thereabouts, in a hardcover format like Northwest Passage and Crogan's Vengeance.NRAMA: For some long-term comics fans (like me), I remember your editing work from years ago at Oni and Dark Horse. You still do some editing, correct? JSR: To a degree, but not as hands on, not as day to day. I still work with Mike Allred, though I don't enforce schedules or anything like that. I usually see Madman when it's done, clean up the typos as best I can, talk to him about what he is doing, etc. I've also done the same for the books Andi Watson published at Image, Glister and Princess After Midnight. I've had really long and amazing relationships with both of them that none of us really wanted to let go of, so when services were needed, they were rendered.
Speaking of Image, I'm good pals with Eric Stephenson, and I love working in his anthologies, so I have two stories in the upcoming book adapting Spearmint songs, This is a Souvenir. One is with newcomer Natalie Nourigat, and the other is with one of my favorite cartoonists, but one who hasn't worked in comics in a while, Kelley Seda. I think these shorts are going to be the next things people will see from me.
NRAMA: You've also got a comic series with artist Mike Holmes out there somewhere. Can you talk about it?JS: See, that's one that I wish I had kept my mouth shut a little bit on, as the process of finding a home for it has been very slow for a variety of reasons, some of which I take the blame for. It's called Lying Down, and it's partially an homage to old Hollywood. Mike came to me and said he wanted to do something with kind of a classic paradigm, and we talked about a variety of movies and stories with a male/female coupling, mostly action and crime stuff. It's sort of a con man romance think, gray morality and blurred identities. I actually wanted to write an old movie-type hero, the stoic type that you're not sure you like very much but yet you're rooting for him to get the girl anyway. I wanted to see if I could write a hero who was a jerk for most of the book and get away with it by making sure the reader knew he had a very good reason to be a jerk. I mean, some readers, particularly the male ones funnily enough, think a lot of my heroes are jerks anyway, but this time, he's really being a jerk, no bones about it.
JSR: The funny thing is, the thing happening sooner is a book with a new artist named Nicolas Hitori de. It's on a property Joëlle Jones and I created. It's a sassy magical comedy. I expect an official announcement soon.NRAMA: And we'll be on your case to talk about it! After you transitioned from being an editor to a full-time writer, Oni Press has been your home for a vast majority of your work. What's your relationship like with them? JSR: Very good, like family, with all the good and the bad that entails. I am not always the easiest person to deal with. Both Baker's Mark and the Oni guys would probably back me up on that. I'm very demanding and I'm very prickly, but Oni knows how to put up with that from me since they spent years doing it. No matter where else I publish, I will always want to return to Oni, they are just so right for a lot of things, and a total safe haven for being able to do things without being interfered with. When I was an editor there, I used to joke that when creators would stray and dabble with other publishers, it would just show them how awesome we were. Well, I tend to have that experience now, that when I start looking around for greener pastures, it's never as green as what I already have. I'm still going with the Matt Wagner lesson, gleaned from his Comico days and the frustrating end of that, so I won't put all my eggs in a single basket, but I will put a lot of them with Oni.
NRAMA: As a writer you're doing more than just comics – you've written several prose novels and also do reviews. What led you to diversifying like this and not just strictly sticking to comics?
I don't think I could survive with just one or the other. Prose and comics each satisfy different aspects of my personality. Novels are the side of me that wants to be alone and just left to my own devices, whereas the comics are the side of me that is willing to be more gregarious and play with others.
The film reviews came about as a purely mercenary maneuver. I have a terrible DVD habit, one that was easier to feed when I had steady employment and wasn't living the spartan lifestyle of a soon-to-be-has-been writer, and by signing up with DVDTalk.com, I've been able to start getting a steady stream of movies for the price of a couple thousand words.
NRAMA: Let's talk about that novel you mentioned that's in the can. Is it a follow-up to a previous work?JSR: No, it's entirely new, though in a lot of ways it is a response to the previous novels. I often have referred long while. Yet, I guess since it's kind of a hybrid of certain things, it's experimental.