CCI, Day 3: Rock and Roll Lifestyle: "The Amazing Joy Buzzards" Coming from Image

Sat, July 24th, 2004 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Seth Jones, Staff Writer

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Chicks dig rock stars.

Now comic fans can, too.

Coming from Image Comics in October is "The Amazing Joy Buzzards," from rookie team Mark Smith (story) and Dan Hipp (art) as announced at Comic-Con International in san Diego..

The Amazing Joy Buzzards are a rock and roll adventure band of Beatles and Rolling Stones proportions who solve mysteries, fight giant robots and evil witchdoctors, and explore the supernatural all with the help of their mythical Mexican wrestler friend El Campeon.

"'The Amazing Joy Buzzards' is part Scooby Doo fun, part Speed Racer action, and part Confessions of a Dangerous Mind retro feel, with rock and roll thrown into the fun," says Smith from his Manhattan Beach, Calif. home. "Scooby Doo was an influence for the fun, and Speedracer for the amount of adrenaline we wanted this book to have."

The band consists of three main characters: Biff Ashby is the lead singer and the group narcissist/trouble maker, Gabe Carlyle plays drums and is the level-headed one whose father, a famous archeologist, vanished, and StevoVargas is the multi-talented bassist/martial arts expert/ race car driver.

El Campeon is a mystical being that comes into the band's life when needed. "He's sort of like Mr. Snufulufugus," Smith says.

As for the villains, the two remain tight-lipped for now, but promise the action starts off from the get-go.

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"The Amazing Joy Buzzards have been around for a while and have made a lot of enemies over the years who come out of the woodwork looking for them. El Campeon has made a lot of enemies of the supernatural kind throughout his years that come looking for him," Hipp, the artist, inker, and letterer on the series, says. "Let me just say you won't be disappointed as far as villains go. We're having fun here. For the first issue Mark and I wanted to drop the reader right into the action."

No waiting in line for CDs or T-shirts from the merch table here. And if readers really get into the book, they can even become honorary members of the band.

"Part of the charm of the book is that we wanted to do a non-superhero book but with a superhero aesthetic that's almost like you're hanging out with your best friend Stan Lee as you read the book," Hipp says.

If the book is nearly as fun as Smith's version of how the book got picked up by Image, then readers are in for a treat. In his words:

"There were a lot of factors at play that helped our book get picked up. Jim Mahfood was a big help in getting picked up as well as running into B. Clay Moore at a coffee shop in Burbank. Jim mentioned Eric Stephenson's name as his contact over at Image who has a big say in what gets picked up. So with that I put together the most beautiful glossy spiral bound submission packet the world has ever seen and usually you're supposed to do 5 pages of sequentials but I had Dan do ten.

Wizard World LA wasn't far away and I was hanging out and drawing with my friends at our hangout coffee shop in Burbank when Rick Cortes' mysterious friend comes over to hang out and mentions his book Hawaain Dick. I look up from drawing in my sketchbook and calmly say 'You're B. Clay Moore.' We talked and I asked him to find out what's going on with our book from Eric Stephenson over at Image. That weekend I went to Wizard World. I still haven't seen this mysterious Stephenson, and I get varied descriptions of him. He's a giant was one. Another person told me that he looks like Iggy Pop.

"Do you know where I can find Iggy Pop?… I mean… Eric Stephenson. I can't find Stephenson who disappeared, but I do find Larsen and talk to him when he wasn't being mobbed for sketches. I talked to Jim and he said 'Stephenson sounds like he really likes the book.' Erik is alone from being mobbed and it is like the Red Sea has split open for me in this one moment in. Larsen says 'We're doing this book' like it was the most natural thing in the world. Everyone but me knew that the book had gotten picked up.

Pinup Pinup by Jim Mahfood
"So that's my old man story that I'm going to bore my grandchildren with about 50 years from now. They'll be like 'Yeah, we've heard the story about Erik Larsen about 50 times grandpa.' Then I'll be like 'Fine go then! You've stayed your hour!' in my best Scottish accent."

For Smith, landing a book at Image Comics has been a dream come true. Not a bad way for the writer to celebrate his birthday, which falls on the Saturday of the convention.

"I wake up with a smile on my face -- we're doing a book with Image," Smith says in excited disbelief. "It's kind of like that scene at the end of Star Wars when they all get medals and the confetti drops."

CBR Executive Producer Jonah Weiland contributed to this story.

 
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