Josh Howard heads to Image Comics in 2009, and he’s taking his cult-hit Dead@17 with him. Howard, known for his distinctive style on this and other books like The Lost Books of Eve, Black Harvest, and Minx’s Clubbing, told us about the move, his overall plans, and some of the other projects that keep him constantly at the drawing board and the writer’s desk.
Newsarama: Let's start with the basic elements: break down the premise of Dead @ 17, please.
Josh Howard: Teenager Nara Kilday is murdered and then
resurrected as Gemini, agent of the Zodiac - sort of a celestial covert
ops unit. Currently, her main priority is safe-guarding her best friend
Hazy who happens to be the living embodiment of the Key to the Abyss.
Outside of that, they're just trying to live a semi-normal life,
complete with all the drama that entails.
NRAMA: I'd assume your Image run begins with a new #1; will you
be doing an ongoing, or continuing the "series of mini-series" pattern.
JH: It will continue as a series of mini-series for now. But
prior to the launch of the new #1 Image will be re-printing all the
previous series in one volume for those who are new to the series or
for fans who want the complete package.
NRAMA: Will this be a whole new continuity, a reboot, or a continuation?
JH: I did briefly flirt with the idea of doing some type of
reboot. But at this point I think it would be a little silly to throw
away all I've worked towards in an effort to pick up a couple of extra
readers. But I think this new #1 offers a new start anyway, so that if
you haven't been following at all it will still be fairly easy to jump
right in and catch up. It's set three years after the last series and
it puts Nara and Hazy back to square one in a sense. Although things
are still as crazy as ever, this is probably the most "normal" things
have been for them since the first or second series. But while they've
been trying to carve out a normal life, the world has continued to spin
out of control.
NRAMA: You and Dead have been associated with Viper Comics for a long time now. Why the move at this point?
JH: Lots of reasons. Most importantly, I just felt it was
finally time to move on. Like you said, I had been there a while and I
think I have built enough of a name for myself that it was time to see
if I could swim with the big boys.
NRAMA: Where does this leave the other projects that you've had
going with Viper? You mentioned some problems with "T-Bird and
Throttle" on your website in mid-December, but I didn't notice any
further comment from you on the issue.
JH: That's still to be determined. Unfortunately, I'm not really
in a position to comment on Viper's issues, but it is my hope that
eventually my other projects will follow Dead @ 17. But everything is
still up in the air for the moment.
NRAMA: What do you consider to be the biggest influences on your art and writing?
JH: Music and music culture, pin-up art, graphic design, and
religion - Judaism and Christianity in particular. I'm also a pretty
avid reader of all types of fantasy and speculative fiction.
NRAMA: You're a pretty furiously active commission artist; how many do you do in a month?
JH: With the delays in T-Bird and Throttle, I had some extra
time on my hands and took on a bit more than normal over the past few
months, probably 20 - 25 a month.
NRAMA: You've been doing some work on Star Wars Galaxy trading cards; how did that come about? Any more plans in that direction?
JH: I had a couple of friends, Otis Frampton and Grant Gould,
who introduced me to the guys at Topps. I've also done some Indiana
Jones and Lord of the Rings cards as well. I don't know how much more
I'll be doing, it just depends on what comes up and what my schedule
is. But it's just cool to have an official product like that with my
name on it.
NRAMA: You've had a hand in creating a number of books over the
years; do you anticipate proliferating titles at Image, or do you plan
to focus on Dead @ 17 for the time being.
JH: I'm hoping I'll be able to follow this Dead @ 17 mini series
with a brand new title. We'll see how things go. Plus, I still have
plans to continue Lost Books of Eve, and possibly Black Harvest, and
there's still the matter of resolving T-Bird and Throttle. There's no
shortage of ideas, it's just a matter of finding time for them all. But
my tentative plan is to do at least one new Dead @ 17 mini series a
NRAMA: What's your view on the shifting tides of the industry at this moment?
JH: I guess I'd have to ask specifically what tides you're
referring to. I feel like I'm pretty much out of the loop on a lot of
things because I stay so busy. In between comic and commission work and
family, I've been devoting all my free time to writing my first novel,
which I've promised myself I will finish this year. I wish I could keep
up more, but it's just hard to find the time!
Howard invites readers to check out his www.joshhoward.net for his latest news and sketches.More New York Comic Con 2009 Coverage:
NYCC '09 Video Page