Image Comics’ giant art-book of comics inspired by Tori Amos songs isn’t just for Tori fans, or comic fans. The book’s sold so well that it’s coming out with a new, shiny, hardcover slipcased edition (full disclosure: my review of it is blurbed on the back). You may be a Tori die-hard like me, or you may go “Eeeewww” at the mention of her name (as at least one person will no doubt do in comments), but the book is really a treasure, with work from so many writers and artists indie and mainstream. It spans the breadth of what’s being done in comics these days.
Editor Rantz Hoseley took some time to fill me in on the response to the book since I picked it up and wrote that review. So please, read on.
Blog@: Tell me about the reception the book’s gotten.
Rantz Hoseley: Reception for the book has been fantastic. You certainly have goals in mind for any project when you’re putting it together, the kind of ‘success metrics’ that you feel, beyond just breaking even, that if achieved, you can feel some kind of contentment and satisfaction that the project reached your expectations. Part of doing any kind of creative endeavor for a living is you learn to, I dunno, temper that a bit? You realize that those goals in the back of your head never (or rarely) get reached, and that pushing towards that ‘ideal’ is the thing that keeps you going. It’s the thing that keeps you pushing to do better next time. That whole experience is just part and parcel of the creative process.
However, I can honestly say with Comic Book Tattoo that it, in every way possible, not only reached those ‘back of the mind’ goals and ideals, but in many ways exceeded them.
The quality of the content, the packaging of the book, how everything came together in and of itself is pretty incredible. In a way it really feels magical. I don’t mean that in the ‘wizards and spells’ kind of way, mind you. We had over 80 creators on the book producing 50+ stories in an oversized, non-standard page format, with 3 different editions at launch. With the number of people involved, and some of the complications along the way in the form of the schedule and such, there were so many places that things could have ‘gone wrong’, and yet they didn’t. Everyone involved, the creators, the designers, even the printer, brought everything they had and let nothing stand in the way. The end result is something I’m immensely proud of.
Even beyond that, the reaction from not only fans of Tori, but also the comic community has been really wonderful. The limited edition of 1,000 was sold out the week the book came out, and we sold out the 400+ copies we had at the San Diego comic-con in less than 24 hours. Based on the number of people that kept coming by to see if we had ‘gotten any more books,’ I’m sure that if we had double that number, we would have sold all of them. It was great, not only from my point of view, but also for the number of creators involved in the project who attended SDCC, getting to be a part of something that extraordinary. Publisher’s Weekly said afterwards that the top two ‘events’ of the con were Watchmen and Comic Book Tattoo, and man, you really can’t beat that!
Most gratifying in all of this has been hearing from people who bought the book who were NOT fans of Tori’s, and in many cases, weren’t big fans of comics either, who picked up the book because they had seen it in the bookstore and liked the cover and thought they’d give it a chance. Many of those people wrote to say that the book made them interested in seeing ‘what else is out there’ in terms of comics, and since one of our goals with CBT was to have it be a showcase for what comics CAN be. . . to hopefully evangelize a bit and maybe bring new readers in to the world of comics, that really makes all of the work worth it.
I had honestly braced myself a bit for the reactions because we did something very different and experimental with the book, and you can’t please everyone, so I anticipated there being a portion of people loudly saying on the internet that we ‘got it wrong,” but I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the overall reaction by Tori fans and comic readers in general has been overwhelmingly positive. Probably the most surprising reactions came from the comic creator community. There have been more than a few creators who are ‘big names’ in the industry who talked to me or emailed me to say ‘why didn’t you ask me to be a part of this?’ When you’re getting that kind of reaction from creators who were huge influences on you as you were starting out in comics, you can’t help but feel that something turned out right with the book.
Blog@: The reprint is a fancy special edition with slipcase and everything? How many is the run, and will they be available at comic shops?
RH: The Special Edition came about for two reasons. First, we heard from a LOT of people at San Diego, then after that on places like message boards, that they loved the format of the signed and numbered Limited Edition with the slipcase and all, but really couldn’t justify (or find for that matter) the price of that edition. With the size of the book, we even had quite a few retailers telling us that the slipcase was a really nice feature to help maintain the book’s condition from a collector’s point of view.
The second part was, after San Diego, we started watching the numbers and the orders for the hardcover editions, which tripled and then quadrupled in 2 weeks time. Based on how fast the HC was selling, we knew we’d have to order another printing in order to be able to have stock on hand for the holidays, and after talking about it between Tori, her manager, myself and Image, we thought that while we didn’t want to do a reprint of the limited edition format, we wanted something ‘a step up’ from the standard HC edition.
With that in mind, Tom Muller and I started talking back and forth about design ideas to create a HC edition that could comfortably, and affordably, rest between the standard HC and the limited edition formats. The end result is a black frosted slipcase with silver foil treatments on the logo and text, with a spot UV gloss on the inset cover art. When we got the copies in from the printer, I have to say, of all four formats, this is by far my favorite one. I really love it.
They went on sale a couple weeks ago and can be found at most good comic shops, bookstores (it’s one of Barnes & Noble’s recommended holiday GN/TPB gift items), and online retailers.
Blog@: Any plans to do another version, or something else like this in the future?
RH: As far as Comic Book Tattoo goes, there are some discussions on ‘other media’ versions of the book, but those are ongoing negotiations, and I can’t really discuss them in any detail. Tori and I are talking about a future possible project for 2009, but we’re in the early stages of that, batting it back and forth and seeing what (if anything) comes of it.
In terms of other bands and CBT-esque books, there are a couple of groups that I’m talking with about doing similar themed projects. I had sworn I wasn’t going to do another one, or that it was highly unlikely, but both of these groups are huge influences on me as a creator, and I kind of felt an artistic obligation to at least explore the possibility, and see what might happen. I’ll be sure to let you know when something can be announced.
(Art by Ryan Kelly from “Winter” in Comic Book Tattoo.)