NYCC '09: Dead@ 17 Moves to Image

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 year.

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 for his latest news and sketches.

More New York Comic Con 2009 Coverage:

NYCC '09 Video Page

NYCC '09 Mini-Site

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