Look for Flight volume 5 previews to start tomorrow on Newsarama
Five volumes in five years. And Kazu Kibuishi and friends are still aiming for greater heights.
That’s right. The fifth volume of the Kazu Kibuishi-edited Flight anthology is scheduled to hit stores this month (July 11). This will be the third volume published by Ballantine Books, with the first two initially published by Image Comics, although they have since been reprinted by the Random House subsidiary.
Let’s also not forget about last year’s all-ages Flight Explorer.
So, in adhering to a longstanding Newsarama tradition, we sat down with Kibuishi again for a chat about the latest volume, which will include the following stories:
"The Broken Path" by Michel Gagné
"Delilah Dirk and the Aqueduct" by Tony Cliff
"The Dragon" by Reagan Lodge
"Beisbol 2" by Richard Pose
"The Courier" by Kazu Kibuishi
"Malinky Robot" by Sonny Liew
"Worry Dolls" by JP Ahonen
"Igloo Head and Tree Head in Disguise" by Scott Campbell
"Evidence" by Graham Annable
"The Changeling" by Sarah Mensinga
"N" by Phil Craven
"Mountains" by Matthew Bernier
"Big Dome - Flowers For Mama" by Paul Rivoche
"The Chosen Ones Club" by Dave Roman
"Jellaby" - Lost by Kean Soo
"Two Kids" by Bannister w/ colors by Steve Hamaker
"Scenes In Which the Earth Stops Spinning" by John Martz and Ryan North
"Time Cat" by Joey Weiser
"Voyage" by Kness and Made
"On The Importance of Space Travel" by Svetlana Chmakova
"Franknfrank - Seasons" by Chris Appelhans
Let’s hear what Kibuishi has to say about the latest volume…
NRAMA: Hi, Kazu. How different is Flight this time?
KK: The biggest difference is in the length of some of these stories. We have multiple stories that pass the 30-page mark and a couple that are about 44 pages in length. Reagan Lodge, Richard Pose, and JP Ahonen all broke the 40-page mark. Tony Cliff and Michel Gagne also turned in 36-page stories.
The tone is also different than the fourth volume in that the comics are bit more lighthearted. It reminds me of Flight 3 in that regard. It's like Flight 3 has come back as a bigger and more developed book. I think that it represents a major step for many of the artists involved.
NRAMA: Was it decided from the get-go to have these creators tell lengthier stories? Did you not have enough materials for this volume?
KK: No, not at all. As with the previous volumes, the lengths of the stories were determined by the creators, not me. If anything, they were all worried about being too lengthy, but I told them to just go for it. We even ended up having to expand the page count and take out the photos in the back of the book to make room for the material.
NRAMA: Did the thought of doing, say, a spin-off volume collecting all of, say, Gagne's stories plus newer stories, ever cross your mind?
KK: One of the biggest goals of this anthology was to provide a forum where artists can serialize larger works. Michel is planning to put all of his stories into a graphic novel when he is done with the final installment, presumably in Flight 7.
NRAMA: Have you considered an all-star edition of Flight featuring stories by specific creators that you and the Flight contributors admire or look up to? For instance, getting Scott McCloud to do a story or two would be cool. Asking some of the established creators in the industry to contribute a story would be a bonus. After all, Becky Cloonan knows Brian Wood, Bengal is working with acclaimed French writer JD Morvan on some projects, etc...
KK: I bug Scott all the time about contributing to the book, but he constantly tells me that he thinks he's not good enough, which is obviously not true. [laughs]
As for other established professionals, I have asked a few people, but most of the time they agree and then disappear. The younger artists are always far more excited about contributing, so the book generally tends to feature more work by newcomers. I never considered editing an anthology of all-stars, but that's probably because I think the people already contributing are the all-stars.
NRAMA: All right then. Let’s get to know the all-stars in this latest volume then. Can you briefly tell us about the stories that are included in Vol. 5?
KK: The stories in this volume are far more story-focused than previous volumes. While some of the volumes had a lot of material that may be considered esoteric, the stories here are taking readers on grander adventures and telling fun little yarns about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. I think that makes this the most accessible Flight volume so far.
Reagan Lodge, Tony Cliff, Michel Gagné, and Richard Pose really led the charge on this book with stories that are both substantial in length and scope. Sonny Liew and Chris Appelhans deliver stories that prove that some of the strongest emotions can be found in the smaller, quieter moments. Svetlana Chmakova and Dave Roman created some incredibly down to earth stories that deal with young people finding their own identity. And Paul Rivoche showed up with a comic that’s unlike anything I’ve seen before - an amalgam of classic American comics with a touch of Miyazaki fantasy. All of the stories in this book are among the best I’ve seen in the Flight collection, so I’m looking forward to hearing what people think about the book.
NRAMA: Of the creators who have contributed to earlier volumes, which ones do you think have improved, upped his game from the early days?
KK: I think all of the artists have stepped up their game, but I would point to Reagan Lodge and Richard Pose in particular. These two guys created long stories that are exactly the type of material I've been hoping to see in Flight. Their stories build off of shorter installments in previous volumes that showed potential, and that potential is met in the pages of Flight 5. They plan to finish these stories and collect the chapters into graphic novel form, and I can't wait to see the final products!
NRAMA: Just how well did Flight Explorer do?
KK: I still haven't heard from Random House if the experiment was a success. From talking to booksellers, librarians, and teachers, it seems like the book is doing well, and they're definitely happy to see someone putting a book like this together.
NRAMA: As with our previous Flight Q&As, can you give us a peek at what's coming up?
KK: We will begin working on Volume 6 of Flight soon after the San Diego Comic-Con this year.
NRAMA: Will there be a Flight Explorer 2?
KK: I have yet to talk to my editor about the possibility of doing a Flight Explorer 2, but I think Flight 6 will be thoroughly all-ages material anyway, so it seems likely that we will simply focus on Flight. My original plan for Flight Explorer was to take material that was already printed in previous volumes of Flight and reprint it as a small all-ages book. That may be what's in store for Explorer in the future.
NRAMA: So, who do you have signed on for the sixth volume of Flight?
KK: The lineup for Flight 6 is yet to be determined. I won’t know who’s in the book until I see all the entries.
NRAMA: Wrapping things up, what else are you working on?
KK: I am currently working feverishly on Amulet 2, trying to finish the book in short time. As I talk to librarians, booksellers and teachers, I'm finding a pressing need for more high quality content for younger audiences, so I want to do my best to get them material as soon as I can. It's been very enjoyable, though. The story has moved heavily into the realm of fantasy and adventure, so I'm getting to do a lot of fun stuff now.
NRAMA: Your wife, Amy, had contributed to at least two volumes of Flight. What would it take for the both of you to write and draw a story together?
KK: We talk about collaborating all the time, and we do plan to, eventually. I would love to draw one of her stories, since I think she’s one of the best writers around.
NRAMA: Even though anthologies are generally not well-received in the States, we've seen increasing attempts by publishers and creators in the last few years to develop anthologies for the mass audience (such as the upcoming Tori Amos Comic Book Tattoo anthology book, PopGun, 24Seven, and others). Well, there's been a "manga revolution" led by TokyoPop and other manga publishers but do you think it's time for an "anthology revolution" now? Why, or why not?
KK: I don’t quite see an “anthology revolution” happening any time soon. It’s actually quite a difficult format to do successfully. If anything, I think the development of a more efficient system for the creation of graphic novels is what’s needed. I want the Flight artists to graduate from the anthology format and go all the way with their graphic novels. I’ll be the first to admit that Flight is serialized at far too slow a rate for even the most patient readers. My guess is that the internet will be the key to all of this. The more I think about distribution, the more I start leaning towards wanting to focus on webcomics. For now, I’m going to work on developing faster methods of production for graphic novels and start teaching classes and posting tutorials based on my findings. I’m hoping it will help cultivate a large group of new artists from different fields - such as animation - to start filling the bookshelves with more American graphic novels.