Newsletter #9 Hearts In Boxes
Hello! I missed you!
It’s probably not cool to say that, but…secret’s out, I’m not cool.
I mean, I sort of am, but in that way that cats are cool. You know what I mean? They’re sort of bored and disinterested and sleepy all the time…which makes them appear above it all and thus…kinda cool. But really they’re just tired and self-focused. Yeah, that’s me. Less cool and more just an asshole. Just like cats.
This Week + Process!
What I’m Doing!
THIS WEEK + PROCESS!
So this week is a release I’m very excited about - an all-new edition from Dark Horse of my first comics work - and also my first creator-owned work - HEART IN A BOX. My co-creator on this is the incredible Meredith McClaren and rather than just droning on about it, I thought maybe we’d show some stuff from HIAB and Meredith was kind enough to both let me show off some of her process stuff and also do a little conversational interview with her…some 6 years after it first released.
First up is a page that really well illustrates the use of color in HIAB (which we talk about in our interview below). The original script page plus Meredith’s final page:
And here’s the conversation with Meredith and I, and below that process pages from one of my favorite spreads in the book:
KELLY: I know it's been a loooong time since we did Heart In A Box - we're so old and grizzled now - well, I'm sure you're still lovely, but *I* am DEFINITELY old and grizzled. Thanks for taking a minute to talk about this with me...just as an all-new edition of our (slightly grizzled?) baby goes back out into the world.
MEREDITH: You're always lovely. Hush.
KELLY: So, I pulled two things to show folks today that when I think back are some of my favorite things about HIAB. The first one is how you approached color in the book. It wasn't in the original idea, but pretty early when we started working together we hit on the idea that when Emma loses her heart she should be rendered in grayscale - with a full color world around her - and that she should sort of "warm up" as she gets the pieces back. And as I recall I was like "I think it's absolutely brilliant...but it will be SO MUCH WORK FOR YOU." Is your recollection the same? And if so, at what point in the project did you want to murder everyone, especially me?
MEREDITH: I don't think it was that much more difficult than the regular coloring. There are things I would have done differently if I had a chance to do it all over again. But I certainly didn't begrudge the process as I knew how to do it at the time. The only thing that ever drove me a little batty was rendering Emma's awesome tattoo. And like the coloring, I know a little better how to handle rendering tattoos for a whole book now. But at the time, I was cobbling a process together for the first time. And I started to be irritated with myself about 60 pages in.
KELLY: Haha. I've been there...and will be again I'm sure. I know that level of complexity made things harder but I'm so glad to hear it was worth it for you too. I think it added so much dimension to the visuals...it really made Emma's loss so much more visceral than it might have otherwise been.
MEREDITH: I'm really proud of the book we put out. You wrote something beautiful and it's been so successful hitting people in the way that we hoped. I can't harbor any bad feelings for something that can accomplish as much meaningfulness as HEART does.
KELLY: Well said. I've gotten so much heartfelt (no pun!) mail from fans about HIAB, the people who found it and read it, really seemed to love it. Another favorite thing of mine in the book was also a bit controversial as I recall - the scene with Emma and Miles where they're reminiscing...looking at the original script pages confirms that I always thought you should do all the work on this page. Ha! As it's just a concept and then suggestions of imagery, and no dialogue text.
MEREDITH: Listen, my memory is real hazy. And clearly I haven't held any grudges, so I couldn't have been that frazzled by it. Release yourself from this burden, Kelly.
KELLY: I AM grateful for your hazy memory. I was always a bit sorry that this incredibly powerful moment in the book fell on your shoulders so hard...but I have to admit, when I see the pages, I still think it was the right decision. I think your images of Emma and Miles' childhood together are so much more powerful than if I'd written a bunch of dumb words. Am I crazy?
MEREDITH: I don't think you should feel bad about it. You let me join you on this project because you trusted that I could find the moments and acting that would best convey what was most important. You put a lot of faith in me with this baby book. Honestly, I'm just relieved that you're still happy with it so many years later. It means I got it right and that's a huge honor.
KELLY: I honestly couldn't have done it without you. You're relieved I'm happy with it, I'm relieved I found you* and you said yes.
*ed note: actually Sophie Campbell knew Meredith and introduced us!
And so here’s the script page for the process for this wonderful double page spread Meredith created from it:
The eagle-eyed among you that have read a lot of my stuff, might recognize this idea (images/memories expressed inside word balloons) used in another project I did as well.
Y’know what? Let’s do a PRIZE for the first person that guesses correctly in the comments to this post what other book (and issue number) I wrote this idea into.
And so yeah, HEART IN A BOX is out AGAIN today, pick it up anywhere great comics are sold! Here’s the new cover so you know what you’re looking for:
Just Heart In A Box this week, but next week (7/21) is CAPTAIN MARVEL #30 - this is an oversized issue that ends our “Strange Magic” arc and includes a 10-page Jamie McKelvie written and drawn short featuring Carol and Kamala.
And for 7/28 we’ve got issue #9 of our Eisner-Nominated BLACK WIDOW:
Here’s Amora SERVING LOOKS in Captain Marvel #30:
And a peek at Carol (but mostly Lauri-ell) from Captain Marvel #31:
And a peek at Sergio Davila’s pencils of a GORGEOUS Carol from Captain Marvel #32
WHAT I’M DOING!
I’m still sorta in deadline hell, so not much to report, but we finished up DARK. Season 3 was definitely a let down. I was super excited by the concept at the end of S2…but S3 mostly felt like them explaining everything for people that were struggling instead of adding more complications. And I’m not gonna lie, it’s a challenging show, there’s A LOT to process and tie your mind in knots around, but I worked hard and it was worth it to work hard…I ENJOYED tying and untying those mind knots! …so them explaining things over and over again…I guess for the audience’s sake?…didn’t land well for us. And there are a few questions that linger unanswered or unsatisfactorily answered. That said, the very end was a surprisingly satisfying wrap up, especially for such a complex show and after a weak season. And even with S3 being a let down overall, I have no regrets about going on the Dark journey. I learned so much and it pinged a lot of my favorite Sci-Fi concepts in really great ways and got me thinking in the ways only “the best” of shows can. So I recommend it for the brave and bold sci-fi fans among you.
Really extra behind on my comics reading, but still totally in love with THE NICE HOUSE ON THE LAKE. Issue 2 is out now, so you should grab that thing.
One of my favorite early “portrait studio style” photos of the boys...
All right, that’s it for this week. C’mon back next week and be kind to each other in the meantime. Oh, and good luck winning the prize. Tricky of me to not say what it is, right? But it will be good. Maybe even great? Nah, probably just good. Later!