My series Pandora’s Blogs premiered on May 3rd’s Free Comic Book Day as one of two features in Red Giant Entertainment’s GIANT-SIZE FANTASY #0, with an impressive circulation of 125,000 or so copies — more than a typical issue of The X-Men! A lot of female readers picked up on something different; the book is a supernatural romance, a genre big in bookstores but lacking in comicbooks. With the actual series launching in a few months — moving into the GIANT-SIZE THRILLS title — interviewer Vijay cornered me today for an online interview:
So the name (and story) Pandora’s Blogs seems like a play on words Pandora’s Box. Can we expect more parallels between the two ?
Yeah…the title Pandora’s Blogs is, indeed, a play on “Pandora’s Box,” about the girl who opened and unleashed a box full of horrors onto our world. Pandora’s Blogs — and it is Blogs, plural, for those who thought it was some sort of typo, because she writes both a personal blog and a school blog — is all about Pandora Sargent, who opens up a grand story about monsters in her midst in the aptly-named town of Legends. I think the parallels in discovering and learning about the unknown, and the loss of innocence, are always there.
For those who are new to this book, can you tell them what Pandora’s Blogs is about?
Sure! Pandora Sargent is from a pretty modern family. She lives with her sister from another father and her single-again mother, who has lost her job as a publicist for celebrities. Her Mom Teresa lands a job doing publicity for a progressive medical facility in Florida, so she schleps her brood cross-country to start a new life. Social media maven that she is, Pandora starts posting all about the weird things she begins seeing. And, in Rashamon storytelling fashion, other people begin posting about their bizarre experiences, and a fuller, even more shocking, story unfolds involving medically-based monsters.
You mentioned recently that the lead character Pandora was based on a real person. How did that happen?
Teresa Lynch is my company Glass House Graphics’s West Coast consultant who originally worked with me here in my Orlando office. Not coincidentally, she was a celebrity publicist. She, and her daughters Tiara and Myam, are wonderful, amazing ladies who I promised would become comics characters. I’m pretty great at holding to my promises.
Issue #0’s “No Stone Unturned” introduces the lead characters and ends on a very interesting note. Would issue #1 be a good jumping point for new readers if they missed the #0 issue?
Of course! In fact, issue #1 IS the jumping on point, as well it should be. When [Red Giant CEO] Benny Powell surprised us with the idea of doing Free Comic Book Day issue #0s for all our series, our story editor Brian Augustyn was pretty insistent that the #0 adventures NOT be origin stories. His reasons were sound; even if 100,000 people picked up the FCBD issue, that’s only 10% of the readers the #1’s would have. “Don’t bury the lead!”…as they say in journalistic writing. So I took Brian’s good advice and made the #0 story an adventure taking place maybe a year into the characters’ lives in Legends. So it gives you a lot of hints what the relationships will be that far down the road.
What’s your most interesting character in the story for you? “Pandora” seems interesting and “Hugo Bourbon” seems sympathetic figure so far. It says a lot about writing when the most vile character so far is the one that is missing from the action completely “Marty Leiber”?
I can relate a lot to Pandora and her family moving to Florida. My wife, daughter, and I moved here three years ago! (Laughs.) The most interesting character in the story for me is probably Dr. Bethany Pike, because I know what’s in store regarding her. Marty Leiber’s not missing — I just didn’t want the readers to see him in the issue #0, so I sent him on vacation! (*chuckle*) Editor-in-Chief David Lawrence had this goofy, wonderful suggestion that we NEVER see Marty Leiber, that he’s always off-panel. That would’ve made for some fun, quirky, humorous storytelling, but we only have 14 pages per month to tell our story. That means I have to select carefully what stories are more important to tell.
Can you talk about the creative team behind this book?
Well, I’m not so sure about that writer guy David Campiti. He’s been writing and producing comics for a long time. Is he a writer of more sexy babe type projects as Exposure and Jade Warriors? A writer of super-hero stuff like Superman, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, and Hero Alliance? A writer of TV and movie tie-in stuff like Beauty and the Beast, Dark Shadows, and Lost in Space? And adapter of best-selling novels into graphic novels, like Piers Anthony’s On a Pale Horse? Or an author of supernatural romance like Pandora’s Blogs? Or is he all those things?
Jinky Coronado is much easier to talk about — and much easier on the eyes. She attended my very first Creating Comics Seminar in Manila some 15 years ago and learned a lot. She went on to be writer/artist of Banzai Girl, artist of Meg Cabot’s Avalon High, artist of Exposure, and now Pandora’s Blogs. If the fashion sense in this series seems quite genuine, that’s all her — as her own closet full of Prada purses and Louboutin shoes attests.
Larry Tuazon is an amazing artist partner for Jinky, having adapted as a finisher for her style quite readily. He’s an old soul in the classic Filipino style sense who made an amazing jump in professional skills. I’m so very proud of him. He’s been working solo on an upcoming series called Silverwolf for another company. He’s worked with Tina Francisco on a series called Knightingail, and with Jinky on Exposure and Banzai Girl. Pandora’s Blogs was their next logical project together. This book is a wonderful stylistic departure for both of them. I’ve got to thank artist Vincenzo Cucca for sort of showing us how this would be a great style in which to depict this book.
Katrina MaeHao, also from the Philippines, is a wonderful, adaptable colorist. She “gets” the style. She worked with Jinky and Larry and Tina across all the projects I’ve mentioned, so she’s in tune with it all.
Zach Matheny’s a terrific letterer with lots of experience at Top Cow and many other companies. What more can I say?
A shout-out to Brian Augustyn our story editor. And editor-in-chief David Lawrence, who helped me with problem-solving by helping script on issue #0 and lobbed a suggestion that made #1 better. Great talents.
How was the reaction to Issue #0 at the Free Comic Book Day ?
Even better than expected. We thought maybe we’d get orders for 60,000 of each book — and we got around 100,000. Plus we printed extra for Comic-Con. About half a million total Red Giant Free Comic Book Day GIANT-SIZE #0 titles are in circulation! That means advertisers got above and beyond what Red Giant promised.
On an unrelated note, for the fans of comic book Exposure, any update on Volume 2 ?
Yes! Exposure Volume 2 — written by Bill Yu and me, drawn by Jinky and Larry — goes to the printer next week, for release in time for Christmas sales. In fact, I’m taking a break right now from editing the book’s files tonight to do this interview!
Anything to say to the fans?
Four things, actually:
First, I’ve been troubled for years by how much of a shrinking market the comics industry has become. When I was growing up, there was a drugstore up the street a block away that carried practically everything from Marvel, DC, Gold Key, Fawcett, Archie, Harvey, Classics Illustrated, Tower, Warren, and more. Four or five stories carrying comics were less than a 10-minute drive to downtown. Comics were everywhere. More recently, I did a Parents Day at my daughter’s school and handed out some X-Men comics my artists drew. A kid said, “X-Men! You mean there’s a comic book, too?” He knew the movies, cartoons, videogames, action figures, and other toys. He’d never seen a comic. Except for my daughter and two of her friends who’d been to our house, no children in the classroom had ever held a comic book in their hands. Red Giant’s plan, to get comics out into the world, a million free comics a week into exactly the people who may love comics, might help to restore that balance.
Second, If you walk through a big bookstore — Barnes & Noble, for example — you’ll see a whole section devoted to supernatural romance. Not just stuff like Twilight or The Vampire Diaries, but dozens of series with a monster or supernatural element and, of course, romantic entanglements. I was surprised to find a dearth of that in the comics industry. Why the hell not? So part of Red Giant’s effort is to expand the ranges of genres of comics being offered. Certainly we have GIANT-SIZE ACTION, ADVENTURE, FANTASY, and THRILLS, yet in each book we have two stories often hitting opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of genres that fall in those categories. Let’s expand the reader base as much as possible, with as wide a variety of stories as possible! I find that pretty exciting.
Third, I plan to return to the lost art of having a full-fledged letter column in each of these upcoming comics. So if folks want to write and send in letters on the #0 issues, please do so! Write me at
David@redgiantentertainment.com. Or snail mail letters the old-fashioned way to our shipping address that’s on our
redgiantentertainment.com website. And I’ll try to include as many great letters as I can. It’s all about encouraging reading and excitement over the stories!
Thank you, everyone!