Back On Tour: Smith on "The Amazing Joy Buzzards" TPB & Their Return This October

Wed, July 6th, 2005 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Jonah Weiland, Executive Producer/Publisher

There's something kind of special when a new comic series, especially when created by relative unknowns, gets the trade paperback treatment. DC and Marvel put out a lot of product each month which takes up a lot of shelf space in most comic shops, leaving just a wee bit of space for everyone else. That reality can make it hard to get noticed in this market, let alone get to the point of being collected as a trade. Tomorrow, July 7th, you might find in the "wee bit" area of your comic shop a new trade paperback collecting the adventures of "The Amazing Joy Buzzards."

We first told you about the series that stars a three piece band with a Mexican wrestler mascot, of sorts, almost one year ago when we spoke with series writer Mark Smith. Since then, Smith and artist Dan Hipp have produced four issues which have been collected in "The Amazing Joy Buzzards Vol. 1," available starting tomorrow from Image Comics. We sat down for a quick chat with Smith to reintroduce readers to "The Amazing Joy Buzzards" and to see what the future holds for this most unusual band.

You can think of "The Amazing Joy Buzzards" as a comic about one of the worlds greatest bands that does it a bit Scooby Doo style (i.e. solving crimes all while bringing the rock). "The Amazing Joy Buzzards are a rock-and-roll adventure band to rival such legends as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones," Mark Smith told CBR News earlier last week. "They fight giant robots and evil witchdoctors, all the while

Two new pages from the trade, an interlude that takes place between issues 2 & 3.
exploring supernatural phenomena with the help of their mystical Mexican wrestler friend, El Campeon, who is a genie. He spirals out of a magical amulet whenever you say the magic words: 'GO, EL CAMPEON, GO!!!'"

The series has thus far finished its first story arch, "Songs from a Movie I Never Made," which have been collected in the trade paperback out today. It also includes an extra 16-pages worth of story that Smith & Hipp were unable to fit into the first four issues. It also includes a massive gallery of pinups and backcovers by the likes of Jim Mahfood, Scott Morse, Jim Rugg, Sean Galloway, Ragnar, Ovi Nedelcu, Paul Harmon and more. Plus, a lot of Hipp extras. All told it's a 190 page trade collection for only $11.99. "In retrospect I would have actually raised the price for 'Songs From A Movie I Never Made' up, but it was originally going to come in at 150 pages, and then we went up to 190 and kept the same price of $11.99," Smith admitted. "For us it was important keep a low price on the first volume to encourage readers to pick it up. On later volumes, I'm sure we're going to have a higher price that is much more fair for us and gives the monthly readers the cheaper price. It's all about finding the right balance."

So, for this first volume there are essentially 50 pages of DVD extras, but no increase in cost to the reader. "Extras and packaging are very important to us, for half of our audience this trade is going to be their first introduction to the world, so we took the time to set up the extras and

"The Amazing Joy Buzzards" Volume 2, #1
have fun with trade," explained Smith. "There's less DVD commentary type extras, mostly it's stuff that would have gone into the issues if we'd had more room and there's a bit of something nice about getting to add scenes that you didn't have room for before."

With the trade now available that means it's time for the band to get in shape and get back on the road for their next tour. This October "The Amazing Joy Buzzards" return in volume 2 with a new number one. "The book is going to keep its fun feel and energy, but mature quite a bit and get into story," said Smith. "There will be a lot of new characters introduced in this upcoming volume and reader's will get a feeling of just how big and epic the world of 'The Amazing Joy Buzzards' truly is. The next story arch is paced more like an arch of 'Bone' and varies a lot from the first Volume. Readers will really have to knuckle down and pay attention but they will be greatly rewarded. The villains in the book and the mythology of the world are some of my favorite things to write and I'm sure readers will be blown away with what we've created for them in the upcoming volumes."

Wait, did he say the series was going to "mature?" "Well, mature is a bad choice of words, actually. More focused and epic is more like it. Like an aged wine. The series is still going to be as fun as ever, only with the upcoming volume we're really going to get into the story and get to know these characters. So by mature it's like you've grown older and wiser, but are still as fun, brilliant and charming as ever, in a Sean Connery kind of way."

An ad promoting the return of the series. This image will be used later as a cover. Page 9 from Volume 2 of "The Amazing Joy Buzzards.
Smith also gave us a teaser on what we can expect from Volume 2. "The world of The Amazing Joy Buzzards is going to open up and expand quite a bit in this next volume. You'll be reintroduced to a group of Supernatural Mod Hipsters called 'The Spider Syndicate' when we start up in October. For me I have a great deal of fun writing these characters and I remember my friends advice that the best villain's don't know they're villain's and things aren't really as they seem. The Spiders consist of Ivep, Galesy & The Puppeteer, who readers were briefly introduced to in 'The Island of Maru.' Two new additions include Donovan, the Devil Mummy Hipster, and El Chupa, who controls the Chupacabras and the South American Territories and is a longtime nemesis of El Campeon. The core group of villains really are more of a family unit. There are also a lot of small touches and really cool creatures and history that's alive in this world and hidden away in the pages. On a second read you'll catch more things earlier that you'll recognize and grow to love later on.

While the series has received great critical acclaim and praise, Smith & Hipp are aware the series still flies under the radar of most comic fans. "At first we were very comfortable with that and just creating the work so that when readers come aboard in massive numbers there is quite a bit for them to read as whole text," said Smith. In some ways it's quite comfortable to be under the radar, but now it's time to move onto that next level and get on with it and that's just what we're going to do with this upcoming volume in October."

Pages 24 - 27 of "The Amazing Joy Buzzards" Volume 2, Issue #1

The long-term outlook for "The Amazing Joy Buzzards" is very positive. "Image is very much behind us right now and supportive and we'll be getting a big push from them this summer," said Smith. The writer says that volume 2 will run 15 issues with a clear and concise ending in mind. "Once we get around issue 15 or so there are other stories we'd like to explore, such as the disappearance of Gabe's archeologist father, El Campeon's past and his true nature, earlier lost tales, and Stevo's story. There will also be some major changes within the group as characters mature and grow. We're really out to go the distance and create something epic in quality like 'Bone' or the black and white Mirage run of 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.'"

"The Amazing Joy Buzzards" is Smith & Hipp's first comics project and it's been a blast thus far, but Smith is quick to point out it's not all about cruisin' and boozin'. "Comics aren't just about sexy hot tub parties, hanging out with celebs and going to meetings. There's a lot of work involved," admitted Smith. "Living like a rock star is wonderful and that's great, but I do think someone's got to do a comic book of their own before they can truly understand what it's all about and how much work goes into the creation of a masterpiece. Comics are their own personal journey for each person."

Look for "The Amazing Joy Buzzards" TPB at finer comic shops Thursday June 7th.

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