While there were a wealth of brand new comics announced at the Image Expo earlier today, writer J. Michael Staczynski's portion of the program proved that for his Joe's Comics imprint, everything old is new again.
The scribe announced two new projects for the months ahead at the creator-owned publisher: relaunches for his previous Marvel/Icon series "The Book of Lost Souls" with artist Colleen Doran and "Dream Police" with new artist Sid Kotian (a previous one-shot was drawn by Mike Deodato, Jr.). The Icon imprint remains Marvel's home for an Image-esque deal for its exclusive and contract creators, so since JMS left the House of Ideas years ago, both these projects have been in limbo for a while.
CBR News spoke with the writer and gauged his desires for both properties at his reinstated Image home. Below, JMS describes what draws him to both "The Book of Lost Souls" and "Dream Police," why now was the time to bring them back and what fans who missed them the first time around truly missed out on.
CBR News: Joe, with "The Book of Lost Souls" and "Dream Police," you're upping your Joe's Comics ante to four titles. This, of course, is coming along with some other contract comics work for the likes of DC and Legendary as well as your presumably full load in Hollywood and one more comic with Bill Seinkiewicz called "Alone." I wanted to start with a bit of process for you. How are you juggling so many comics projects? Have some of these been in development for a while?
J. Michael Straczynski: What's enormously helpful of course, is that I enjoy the work, and these are books that I've been looking forward to bring back for long time. I've had stories I wanted to tell in these worlds for long time, and now that the opportunities are here to tell them, writing them wont be a problem.
On to the projects themselves, "Lost Souls" obviously had another life as an Icon series at Marvel where you cheekily said in PR it was marketed to 15 people. What's your expectation for its time at Image? Is a bigger promotional platform something you think will turn more heads to this series?
In truth, Marvel never had a really strong reason or desire to market these books. They were more of a sop to creators than an actual working line. After "Book of Lost Souls" finished its full run, Colleen and I had been told by bookstore owners that they were told at the books were unavailable and out of print. Well as it turned out, we bought two pallets full of boxes and boxes and boxes that were printed just never made available to distributors. People have been asking for these books to come back for years so we don't need to create interest. It's already there.
Catch folks up who did miss this the first time around. What's most important to know about "Lost Souls" from your and Colleen's first run with the book, and how does this new series compliment that? Do you view this as a straight continuation of that story or a new tale within the previously established canon?
What's important about the book is that it is a story about hope and finding a reason to live at a time of hopelessness and despair. It's about not just having something worth dying for but having something worth living for. That's an important message to communicate particularly in our contemporary times. Our plan is to be reboot the book from the ground up for those who didn't find it during the original run so we are starting at the beginning but with new cool twists and turns.
Are there plans to reprint all the original material through Image as well?
On "Dream Police," I'm having trouble hearing the title without playing Cheap Trick riffs in my head on a repeated loop, but from whence does this project come for you? What was the original inspiration behind the concept?
Silly as it may sound, it was one of those ideas that I literally just dreamed up. I had a dream one night, and in the course of the dream I met these police officers who said that their job was to keep things organized to keep you from being hurt in the course of dream. I woke up thinking that's really kind of a cool idea for a series.
Again, eagle-eyed fans may remember the original one-shot that introduced the characters of this series, but here you're fleshing out that world to a full-on 12-issue run. How do you view the form of a series like that having written similarly structured projects like "The Twelve"? Is this iteration of "Dream Police" set to be one big mystery novel, or will it be broken up into multiple cases?
At the moment, the plan is to have one large overarching mystery that will span 12 issues, but in the course of telling that story we will also explore other mysteries, other cases that the dream police are involved with. This will give us the benefit of an overarching story but also every so often a sense of completion so that readers get smaller full stories being told along the way.
The cover work here is quite evocative. With a story focusing on such ephemeral imagery as forgotten memories and dreadful nightmares, what kind of visual weight were you looking for in finding an artist?
We have found our artist in Sid Kotian who is also pencilling my script for "The Adventures of Apocalypse Al" for MTV comics. He is great on character and has a nifty noir sensibility.
Stay tuned for more from Image Expo on CBR.