|interview with diana schutz
Thursday, September 1, 2005
Michael Chabon's name may be on the cover of each issue of Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, but without editor Diana Schutz, there's no doubt the series wouldn't be what it is. Schutz, a senior editor at Dark Horse Comics, took over editing the series with issue #3. Dark Horse's website describes her as the "Editor-to-the-Heavies," and fans of the Escapist can probably thank her for much of the amazing tallent featured each issue. Now, Schutz is overseeing the Eisner Award-winning anthology's first on-going storyline, written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Philip Bond. Their run kicks off with Escapist #8, due in stores Nov. 9. Schutz took time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about the new storyline and the series in general.
site, it was your idea to transform the series by
creating a continuing story to kick off each issue. Why did
you make this move?
Max Roth and Case Weaver, stars of "The Escapists," by writer Brian Vaughan and artist Philip Bond. Dave Stewart is currently coloring the pages, which are lettered by Tom Orzechowski.
are kind of iffy to begin with, in the world of comics publishing, just
short story collections are in the world of prose publishing. Although we've been lucky to feature many of
the best and brightest talents in The
Escapist, it seemed to me that after a while, readers would no
willing to pay our relatively hefty cover price for a series of
stories, no matter how well done. I
wanted to give the readers a reason to come back, each issue, and
nothing like well-done continuity to arouse reader curiosity and
of making the
story based in the "real world" rather than in Empire City
your idea also?
at all! Brian Vaughan is the big brain
behind “The Escapists.” I take no credit
for his unbelievable cleverness!
Will this new story line
have direct ties to the novel?
and no. It certainly references events
that take place in the novel, but it's its own story.
When Brian first pitched his idea to me, he
noted that the core of Michael's novel is the “real-life” story of Sam
Josef Kavalier, and Brian wanted to do something similar with his own
line. In other words, introduce a
latter-day Kavalier and Clay in the characters of Max Roth and Case
whose “real-life” contemporary experiences would be the main story, but
also create their own version of the Escapist.
And just like the novel, we get to weave in and out of both
“real-life” one and the Escapist comic-book story.
How did you
K. Vaughan and Philip Bond to work on this series?
Artist Eduardo Barreto "becomes" Josef Kavalier in order to draw this Golden Age sequence from "The Escapists."
there's an interesting story in regard to Brian. First,
I should mention that I've been
following Brian's work since his run on Swamp
Thing some years ago, I haven't missed an issue of Y:
The Last Man, and I'm a huge fan of Ex Machina. Brian had
already written one Escapist story, which the book's original editor
had the smarts to commission (“To Reign in Hell,” published in issue
#3), and I
was wowed by it. By the time Brian wrote
that script, I had become the editor of the book, and in the course of
with him on the story, I learned that he had worked for a time as an
artist. So, when I decided the book
needed an ongoing story line, Brian was the obvious choice to write it. But he turned me down! He
was too busy, his schedule was too full,
he was just about to get married to Ruth.
that's when I stooped to playing dirty pool.
I asked Michael to call
him. I knew Brian would have a much
harder time saying no to Michael than to me -- and I was right! Sneaky, huh?!
was an equally clear choice for our artist, because the story demands a
contemporary look. Also, Case had to be
really cute -- and Philip is a natural when it comes to drawing cute
girls! He was just finishing up Vimanarama for DC/Vertigo as well as being stay-home dad
to his and
his wife (DC/Vertigo editor) Shelly's new baby, so this quarterly gig
perfect for Philip in every way.
in chapter two, the Escapist comic-within-a-comic is drawn by the very
Jason Alexander, whose work you may have seen in DC's Gotham
Central -- or, more recently, in Damn Nation
published by Dark Horse. We were really
lucky to get Jason for this
gig -- his star is on the rise big-time.
the way, master calligrapher Tom Orzechowski is lettering the story and
Stewart is our (Eisner-winning) colorist.
In the first chapter, there are three pages of “Golden Age”
adventures, illustrated in a 1940s kind of Toth/Robbins/Caniff style by
amazing Eduardo Barreto, one of my all-time favorite artists -- and one
all-time favorite people, too. Most
recently, Eduardo drew the entire Mr. Machine Gun issue of Escapist
(the one written by Michael), which takes place in two different
time periods, the '70s and the '40s, and Eduardo varied his style
each period. His '40s look is so
authentic that I've decided he is
Josef Kavalier, so Señor Barreto will be drawing other “Golden
in upcoming stories as well.
How much influence does
Chabon exert on each issue generally and on this next
story arc specifically?
Max Roth finds his hero.
gotta say…I couldn't do this book without Michael!
He is my guiding light. First of
all, he's so smart, it's scary! His
command of language is unequalled. And for
someone who's won a Pulitzer and
therefore deserves to have a huge ego…well, he just doesn't. Like, not even a little bit.
He's great, and I really love working with
Everything for the book is officially
submitted, by me, to Michael for approval: plots, scripts, pencil art,
art, coloring, cover designs, everything.
If we disagree -- which, actually, almost
never happens -- we just duke it out until we come to a resolution.
can't stress how important it is to me, when you're working closely
creator, to feel that he or she really respects your opinion and trusts
judgment. That's a sacred
trust, and when a creator gives me that -- like Michael does
-- I give the work everything I've got, and then some! And
it really is all about the work, and making it just as
good as it
can possibly be.
is particularly involved with plots and scripts, which, of course,
critical stage: that of story. And
that's where I'm particularly grateful for
his help, because I'm not a writer and those aren't my characters --
his and he knows them best.
terms of Brian's story arc…well, Brian's pretty darn good, so it's not
either Michael or I have had a whole lot to say -- other than “Wow!” Michael did have some particular suggestions
in regard to the second chapter, which Brian has taken into account.
it drew fairly large interest from outside comic
book shops by book lovers who had never picked up a
comic in their life. How do you, as an editor, work to
satisfy both these new readers and the stereotypical
fanboy or girl?
A page from "The Escapist at the Royal Festival of Magic." Story, art, and lettering by Jeff Parker.
don't. Look, it has to satisfy me
-- and I am a difficult girl to
please! But I'm also a total comics
fangirl and an avid book lover!
What's it like winning an
cool. Will Eisner gave his illustrious
name to those awards, and it's a real honor to win one.
San Diego, though, on my way back home
security hauled me aside because they thought my Eisner Award was an
Any plans to eventually do a story
starring Kavalier and Clay themselves?
the late, great Will Eisner gave small parts to Kavalier and Clay in
Spirit/Escapist story in issue #6, but Michael T. Gilbert (of Mr. Monster fame) has the characters in
leading roles, along with the Escapist himself, in an upcoming — and
delightful — story entitled “Letter Perfect.”
And Jerome Charyn has just completed a strangely haunting,
script in which Joe Kavalier shares the stage not only with Tom
his cast of characters, but also with the Golem! (Mr.
Charyn's comics writing has been
primarily published in Europe. He won the prestigious Prix Alfred in Angouleme for
album The Magician's Wife, drawn by
Who are the
you're lining up to work on future issues? I see Harvey
Pekar is in this next one.
Harvey Pekar as The Escapist?! Page 1 of "Escape from the Hospital,"
written by Harvey Pekar, illustrated by Dean Haspiel, and colored by
Harvey wrote a crazy, fun American
Splendor-style story drawn by Dean Haspiel, Harvey's collaborator on The
Quitter. Award-winning author (and one
of my closest
friends) Chris Offutt, who gave us “Another Man's Escape” in issue #6,
written a terrific story entitled “The Last Freedom,” which features
Freedoms, another Kavalier & Clay creation from the novel. Hmm, just off the top of my head, other
creators working on stories include Steven Grant and Shawn McManus,
Phillips and Paul Gulacy, Matt Wagner and John K. Snyder III, Stuart
Phil Winslade, Mark Ricketts and Dan Brereton, and Howard Chaykin and
Dougherty, among others. And I'm
thrilled to announce that the incredible Brian Bolland has agreed to
series' regular cover artist.
have appeared so far in the
that would be telling!
conducted by Nate Raymond of the Amazing Website of Kavalier & Clay.
Published September 1, 2005.
Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist #8 hits stores November 9 with a price tag of $8.95.
Disclaimer >>> All illustrations accompanying this interview are copyright 2005
Michael Chabon. All rights reserved. The Escapist, Luna Moth, and the
likeness of all other characters featured here are trademarks of
Michael Chabon. Interview responses copyright 2005 Diana Schutz. Interview itself copyright 2005 Nate Raymond.