After Kavalier & Clay became a hit, comic book companies were almost immediately asking Chabon to either allow them to make a comic book spin-off of the noverl or have Chabon write a comic book himself. Here are comic book projects in the works or that have been published as a result of Kavalier & Clay.
When Dark Horse Comics canceled The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, it left a major dilemma. Plans had already been set forth to publish an on-going series of stories written by Brian K. Vaughan (Ex Machina), and already the first story was in issue #8. The second was ready for print in issue #9 when Dark Horse pulled the plug on the series.
So what do you do when you have all that art and no comic? Make a new one.
The Escapists #1 hit stands in July 2006. Featuring the art of Steve Rolston (Queen & Country) and Jason Alexander (Gotham Central), the six-part mini-series tells the tale of Max Roth and Case Weaver, two indie comic creators in Cleveland who decide to re-launch the Escapist comic.
Chabon personally tapped Vaughan for the story line. “Michael Chabon is easily my favorite living novelist, so imagine my shock when I came home to a message on my machine from him, which said, ‘Brian, I’m calling with urgent League of the Golden Key business,’” Vaughan said on his blog in April 2005.
Rolston was a late addition to the team, after Philip Bond (Vimanarama) left the anthology after one issue. At the time, Rolston told this site he was “happily surprised to get a phone call from Diana Schutz, offering me the gig.”
“I hadn’t worked with her before but she was familiar with my work and Brian had suggested me as an artist,” he said. “As fate would have it, I was about to take a trip to Portland so I was able to meet Diana face-to-face and visit the Dark Horse offices.”
MICHAEL CHABON PRESENTS THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF THE ESCAPIST
In February 2004, Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist debuted. The 80-page quarterly featured stories by various comic book creators and involved the various fictional comic book characters featured in Kavalier & Clay, including the Escapist and Luna Moth. Each story took place in a different time period from the golden age to the modern age. Chabon personally supervised all of the stories and also contributed original stories of his own, including a script for a story about Mr. Machine Gun in issue #7.
Other creators involved included Elektra’s Bill Sienkiewicz and Howard Chaykin (American Flagg!). Chaykin and Chabon previous worked together on McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales. He will provide both the front cover and a 10-page story.
“It’ll be a ’50s ‘Escapist’ story. It’s probably going to involve a pastiche of Irving Claw. Irving Claw was the guy who took all the photographs of Bettie Paige. He’s a guy who made a living selling movie star headshots who ended up getting into the business of doing pin-up modeling, sort of as a sideline, because people were constantly asking for it. That’s where Bettie Paige came from. What better thing to do than to do an adventure involving sort of playful bondage with a character like the Escapist, a guy who basically gets out of tight situations.”
Chabon told Entertainment Weekly in September 2003 that the comic would feature the history of the character from 1939 to present. “There’s a point in the ’60s where the character is in dispute, and ends up in the hands of a company that produces hair-care products for an African-American market,” Chabon said.
However, declining sales meant eventually the comic would have to die. Dark Horse canceled it in January 2006. Many of the remaining stories later showed up in The Escapists.
Michael Chabon, in an e-mail at the time, said he was “just glad and grateful to Dark Horse that they’re sticking with it at all and impressed that they’re planning to honor all their outstanding committments to the writers and artists who had already been hired to do work for the quarterly.”
JSA: ALL-STAR #7
JSA: All-Stars #7 was Michael Chabon’s first published comic book. With art by Michael Lark, this 16-page back-up story featured the Golden Age Mr. Terrific. In an interview with Comics Continuum, Chabon revealed how the project came about:
I agreed to do it because they gave me a chance to write one of my favorite costumed super-hero characters, Mr. Terrific… If you don’t know about Mr. Terrific, and I’m not making this up, he has no powers. He has no powers. But he is really good at stuff. On his chest instead of the usual symbol, he has the words, ‘Fair Play.’ It’s kind of a Wes Anderson kind of a character. So I asked if he was taken - because this is sort of a book where there are different writers for different characters — and when they said he was still available, I said I’d do it.
What I wrote about was Mr. Terrific’s younger brother, who was not so terrific, and what it’s like to have Mr. Terrific as a brother.
The issue hit stores November 11, 2003.