Vaughan to ‘Meet’ Sam Clay

A new hardcover edition of The Escapists will feature an introduction by Michael Chabon that will introduce real-life writer Brian K. Vaughan to Sam Clay, according to the comic’s writer and artist.

The hardcover, set to hit stores Dec. 12, collects the six-part series about Maxwell Roth and Case Weaver, two Cleveland comic fanatics who try to revive the dormant Escapist line of comics. In his e-mail newsletter Wednesday, Steve Rolston, who drew the “reality” sequences in the series, says an intro Chabon wrote for the collection is “almost like an epilogue to Chabon’s novel, as the fictional Sam Clay meets a young boy at a comic convention.”

Vaughan, who wrote the series, talked about the introduction with Los Angeles CityBeat in September. It features “a character from Kavalier & Clay, who’s at a convention for old-timer comics creators in the 1980s, and inspires a young Brian Vaughan to become a comic book writer.”

“It’s the most surreal experience to read my favorite novelist writing me into the canon of his world,” Vaughan said. “It’s awesome.”

The collection also features a cover by Alex Ross. It’s priced at $19.95.

Will the Escapist Return?

Can the Escapist escape the end?

That’s the question following the final issue of The Escapists, published earlier this month. Dark Horse still has the rights to publish a new book, and while nothing has been announced, editor Diana Schutz says plans are afoot.

“Our commitment remains firm to the character,” she said via e-mail.

Just last week, Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson talked to Schutz about creating a new Escapist-related series, “though I can’t give you any details at this point and probably not for some time,” she said.

“Don’t forget that Mike went out of his way to get the rights to publish comics based on Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer-winning novel; he is still totally passionate about Michael’s novel and about our comics,” Schutz said. “As am I. It’s the market whose support we need!”

At the stands, Escapist series have stuggled. The final issue of Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, which hit stands in November 2005, sold only 4,594 copies, according to ICv2 data. Schutz said they “learned the hard way that a nine-dollar eighty-page anthology was perhaps not the right direction to take.”

Retooled and repriced at $2.99, The Escapists faired better; issue #5 sold 12,190 copies, ICv2 says. Still, that issue ranked only 172 out of 300 comics in November.

At the very least, fans should expect to finally see the so-called “missing” Escapist stories, according to Schutz. When Dark Horse abruptly pulled the plug on the anthology in January, issue #9 was all but done and scheduled to hit shelves that week. Howard Chaykin and artist Jed Dougherty had finished a story about a battle between several decades’ incarnations of Luna Moth, and Stuart Moore and Phil Winslade completed a 1970’s tale featuring the Escapist and Hunter S. Thompson. Neither have seen print.

“We certainly have plans to print all of the ‘missing’ Escapist stories!” Schutz said. “There were several in production at the time the anthology was pulled, and I have both personal and professional reasons for wanting those to see the light of day — as do the several writers and artists who worked on them.”

Schutz said she’s not sure what form the stories will be in when they get published.

“It’s possible we’ll collect the whole darn shootin’ match into one big brick of a book, though my preference would be to find a way to thematically link certain groups of stories together and release them as miniseries first, along the lines of the Hellboy: Weird Tales anthology, for instance,” she said.

But don’t expect a return of characters Max Rothwell and Case Weaver from The Escapists. As early as September, write Brian K. Vaughan indicated at his Web site’s forum that the series, if it continued, would be without him.

“I love the book, but my finale is pretty final,” he said.

Artist Steve Rolston likewise said he hadn’t “heard of any further Escapist comics being planned,” though adding he suspected Dark Horse would work to publish the “missing” stories.

Exactly how long Dark Horse can publish comics spun from The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is unclear. Schutz declined to say how long Dark Horse was allowed to publish Escapist comics, saying the contract was confidential.

“Let’s just say that I think Michael Chabon would like us to get those stories into print, too,” she said. “He’s been very happy with what we’ve done so far — both in terms of the original anthology as well as the Vaughan/[Jason] Alexander/Rolston Escapists six-issue series.”

Asked in mid-December, Chabon said he hadn’t heard anything from Dark Horse about a new series. Chabon said he was “sorry” to see The Escapists end, calling it “so great.”

“I really wish it would continue just so that I could keep reading,” he said.

Final Escapists Hits Stands

The final issue of The Escapists hit stands Wednesday.

“Thanks to everyone who loved this miniseries as much as we did,” writer Brian K. Vaughan said on his forum.

Steve Rolston and Jason Shawn Alexander illustrate the final tale of Max and Case. “When tragedy strikes, will the character that brought them together ultimately tear them apart?” the issue’s solication says. “Find out in this fantastic final issue of the Escapist’s first miniseries!”

Escapists #5 Hits Stores

The Escapists #5 hit stores Wednesday, leaving only one more issue to go.

“I can’t tell you how much I love this mini,” writer Brian K. Vaughan says at his Web site.

Is Luna Moth an agent of the Iron Chain? Is she under the Saboteur’s control? Will Denny get out of jail? Will Max and Case make it, in more sense than one? You’ll have to buy the issue to find out.

Escapists #4 Hits Stores

Brian K. Vaughan clearly likes The Escapists #4, in stores today

“I love this issue more than my wife,” Vaughan said in a forum posting.

Vaughan said “it’s all thanks to the art team,” Steve Rolston and Jason Alexander.

“If you’re not reading this book, what the hell is wrong with you?” he said.

In this issue, Max, Case, and Denny become increasingly irritable toward each other as a high-powered corporate lawyer moves in to yank their Escapist rights. Meanwhile, within the comic they’re making, the Escapist faces samurai-wielding female warriors, who have taken Luna Moth hostage.

The issue costs $2.99. For a preview, click here.