I'm very, very, very happy for this book to be released today.
It's October 8th, 2013, the day Paul Pope's BATTLING BOY is cut loose into the world.
Years ago, before launching First Second Books, before I knew Paul's work, I was at Jim Hanley's Universe, one of America's greatest comics shops, at the foot of the Empire State Building, with Jessica Abel. She was introducing me to some of the luminaries of the indie comics world, some of whom would become star authors under First Second. Among the books she piled in my arms was a self published set of "THB" and "100%" and "Heavy Liquid"—and for me, the revelation of Paul Pope.
What his fans already knew was my thrill to discover. This strangely incandescent, charismatic brushstroke, the high-octane, crazy kinetic energy of it, and the oddly familiar sense in his characters and his storytelling, even when they involved First Contact with an alien life form through an addictive ink drug... I was hooked.
What mesmerized me with Paul's work, everything I could find, was the magical confluence of the three great schools of comics: the American, the European, and the Asian, in some new blend I had never found before. Here was the heir of Jack Kirby, but infused with a Manga sensibility owing to Tezuka, and an artistry steeped in Hugo Pratt and Moebius. And then of course something unique and fresh, reverent and rebellious and exciting of my senses.
I'm writing this some years later, late on October 7th, 2013, in a hotel room in Chicago. Down the hall, Paul Pope is in another room, typing up answers to an interview for The Hollywood Reporter. Tomorrow morning, I'm taking him to three rapid-fire school visits before we head to Atlanta and then to DC the next day, and then head back to New York in time for Comic Con. Paul is at the start of his author tour, for his magnificent BATTLING BOY.
Yes, there's plenty of hype surrounding this one. But tonight at dinner, that's not what Paul was interested in. He was wrestling with a story problem in the later part of BATTLING BOY 2, involving a magical T-shirt, and a relationship development between two characters.
What a treat to work with someone like Paul. Comics are being transformed, superb pictures are taking form, heroes are being born. And I'm so very, very, very happy you get to start reading them.