Out Today: Mystery Girl vol. 1!

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I’m not sure how long I’ve known Paul Tobin. Not forever or anything, but longer than I’ve worked with him, since pretty much all the comics people in Portland know each other. I’ve read him for a long time, and I finally got to see him at work when I brought his and Colleen Coover’s Bandette to Dark Horse after its initial arc’s digital serialization from MonkeyBrain.

Editing the first two Bandette collections was a blast, incorporating as much backup material in the way of shorts, making-of sections, and original prose stories as we could fit, but it wasn’t working together in the same sense that me editing an original project of Paul’s would be, and we talked several times about wanting to do exactly that, with Paul sending me an occasional pitch and us discussing what kind of genre we’d want to do.

During these discussions, Paul sent me the pitch for Mystery Girl, which, with its relatable lead Trine, great hook in Trine’s power to instantly know the answer to any question asked her (except if it related to the last ten years of her own life), and mix of whimsy and menace, is not a million miles from a more grown-up, sexier caper in the Bandette mold. We were off! Paul and I share an obsession with making first issues full, dense reads that create a complete experience while giving people reason to come back, and that became our first priority. So many first issues are all setup, with the actual premise only introduced on the final page, even if readers already know what a book’s about. We wanted to avoid that, and Paul built an issue showing us what Trine can do and giving her several short cases to solve before building to a bigger one, introducing a new threat, and teasing Trine’s larger arc. There’s a lot there, and it’s still breezy and fun.

Alberto Alburquerque was always Paul’s first choice for artist, the two of them having developed a rapport on previous projects, and I am a fan myself, so I was happy for them to have a bigger project to collaborate on than they had before. As scripts began to come in, the world took shape, but Paul also got in as many jabs at Alberto’s soccer club of choice to add an extra page or two of description. They were pretty in sync.

After her work on Semiautomagic, I knew I wanted to bring in Marissa Louise for color, and I think either Paul or Alberto actually suggested her as well. Marissa’s hugely collaborative, and she and Alberto were kicking color ideas back and forth while issue #1 was still in the pencil stage.

I left Dark Horse after all the scripts were edited and the first issue was completely colored and lettered, with the editing chores on issues #2–#4 going to Shantel LaRocque, who is now also DH’s person in charge of Bandette. While I knew the shape of the story and what to expect in each issue, having only seen some pencils for issue #2 before handing it off, I had the pleasure of reading the series with fresh eyes as the issues were released, and so, while I remain biased, I have to say that from my slight remove they read pretty well.

Now the collected edition is out, with the whole first arc accompanied by Jimmy Presler’s mod designs and an 18-page sketchbook section full of material that was new to me. It’s a great book, and I can’t wait to read more of Trine’s adventures as a regular reader. Thanks to the whole team for this book I’ve been loving reading and am proud to place on the shelf next to some of my other favorites I’ve edited!

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