I’m always happy when the collection of something I edited comes out, but a book like Semiatutomagic is especially exciting, because it will be the first time many readers have seen it. Rather than as a miniseries, Semiauto was serialized in two arcs in Dark Horse Presents vol. 3, so for everyone but readers of DHP, this is a brand-new book by Alex de Campi, Jerry Ordway, and Marissa Louise!
Semiauto centers on techno-occultist Alice Creed, who has Indiana Jones’s day job and John Constantine’s night job. She’s never going to get tenure as a professor because she’s missing class too often to fight things too horrible to exist and far less comfortingly familiar than the fables and folklore of traditional horror. And every victory costs her and her friends (those few she has left) dearly. Her troubles in the book begin with a kid possessed by a demonic videogame and only get worse from there.
Believe it or not, the series started out as a superhero book, sort of. In 2013, legendary artist Jerry Ordway wrote about the very serious problem in comics of established artists being pushed out as publishers chase new flavors. As he noted in the essay, new blood is essential to comics, but when he looked back at the beginning of his career, the generation before him continued to work side-by-side that new blood, which seems to be less true today. My frequent collaborator Alex de Campi immediately contacted me saying that if DC wasn’t keeping him busy enough, she loved his work and wanted to find something to cocreate with him. A huge fan myself, I was an easy sell. So was Dark Horse president Mike Richardson, who okayed a run in DHP on the basis of a TBD Alex/Jerry collaboration.
I was slightly tuned into the conversations between writer and artist that followed, but soon a space-based female superhero had become Alice Creed, and I received scripts for most or all of the first arc at once. I gave my feedback, made Jerry a schedule, and waited for pages to come in.
And then I had my mind blown. Jerry had never done anything like this before. In a career full of superhero work, he was unquestionably one of the best, but I hadn’t seen him try his hand at horror, and it turned out he can do scary and unsettling with all the panache he brings to capes and tights. Not only was he right that established artists still have vital work to do in the field, but here he was proving, 34 years into his comics career, that he had untapped depths no one would ever have guessed were there without new and different projects continuing to come his way. It’s been a pleasure to see his work show up at DC again, in the pages of Justice League and Convergence: Infinity Inc., but I also look forward to what new and unexpected things come his way after he reminded everyone how much more he can do. And of course I’m already trying to figure out what projects I can bring him in on.
Not long before, I had met colorist Marissa Louise Czerniejewski through my then-assistant (now an associate editor) Ian Tucker. We painted together at some drink and draw or party or other, and I had been looking for a project to try her work out in ever since. Semiauto wasn’t her first work to see print, but I believe we hired her before she was hired for the RoboCop run that debuted prior our first chapter. Like Jerry, Marissa proved versatile and surprising, with intuitive color decisions that pushed the creepiness factor of the work even further. We’ve gone on to work together on Grindhouse, Mystery Girl, and The Sakai Project at Dark Horse, Trent at Starburns Industries, and the new Kickstarted book of Semiauto stories.
Yes, in case you missed it, we produced three more Semiauto stories, two drawn by Jerry and one by guest artist Lara Margarida, all written and lettered by Alex and colored by Marissa, with editing assistance from Bekah Caden. It’s a slipcased set containing both the Dark Horse volume and the Kickstarter volume, with magnificent slipcase art by Tomer Hanuka. It goes to press in just a couple weeks! This was pretty limited, so I recommend grabbing the DH volume today if you weren’t a Kickstarter backer, but keep an eye out at conventions and you may be able to buy a set from Alex, Jerry, or me.
Anyway, I’m so happy Semiautomagic is a book now and that it’s out in the world as a standalone story. It’s not what you expect from Jerry, it’s even a little different for Alex, and it’s just good, fucked-up horror comics. Thanks to everyone who made it real: Alex, Jerry, Marissa, Ian, Mike, and then-DHP coeditor Jim Gibbons. We’re all really proud of this one!
If you’re still not convinced you need this on your shelf, don’t take my word for it, take Geeked-Out Nation’s word for it.