9 posts categorized "PAUL POPE"

October 08, 2013



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.



October 18, 2011

BB LEAKS: Paul Pope hot off the scanner!

Some days are just too good to keep to ourselves... Imagine receiving these originals—just-inked pages from Paul Pope's BATTLING BOY... Care to gasp with us?


August 15, 2011

Battling Boy rumors abound!

Will Maddox Pitt-Jolie star as the titular Battling Boy in Paul Pope's mega-opus of awesomeosity?

Alas, no!

Will Battling Boy make your brain explode?

Hell yes!



December 17, 2010



Leaked cables and snapshots of BATTLING BOY, from Paul Pope's studio

A new regular feature on the First Second blog!

The closely guarded secrets of Paul Pope's studio, released in a controversial leak, include cell-phone snapshots by an unnamed intern, taken at great risk!

This is the first such photo, with ink barely dry on the BATTLING BOY original page.

We are threatening to release more if, uh, you want.


November 06, 2008



Paul Pope news release in VARIETY this week: Paramount and Brad Pitt's Plan B Productions team up to bring BATTLING BOY to the silver screen. Read here.

And a piece in the last PUBLISHERS WEEKLY COMICS WEEK:

Pope said now more than anything he wants to focus on "optimistic work," particularly his ongoing series THB and Battling Boy, an all-ages story set to come out in two graphic novels from First Second, the first set to debut at the 2010 New York Comic Con. Speaking during a brief break from working on Battling Boy in his New York studio, Pope said it's a very personal project "and I just want it to be bad ass."
Battling Boy is set in Monstropolis, a "pre-World War II European capital," type of city, Pope said. The titular character is the son of a god/hero and he's an elite monster-slayer even though he’s still a child. Pope said he set out with the project to make a super hero story for children, a type of project he doesn't see coming from Marvel and DC. He also believes the book is a "brother project" to THB, his much-lauded and much revised science fiction epic about the colonization of Mars.
"I really like this idea of [novelist] Michael Chabon's that a super hero is a wish fulfillment," Pope said. "Jung said something like a super hero emerges when people's consciousness concentrates. So, what's the superman for now?"
The answer Pope came up with was a super hero who would protect children. And the story grew as he combined elements of mythology and Jungian archetypes to craft an elaborate world. Pope will explain the fantasy and mythology of Battling Boy through an index in the back of each book, which he said he hopes will inspire young readers to look into mythology.
"I think kids can handle stuff that's scary," he said. "I think kids realize they're not really safe in this world. So that's kind of the heart of the story. Also it's kind of funny, an indestructible kid destroying monsters." He's also trying to expand on the traditional graphic novel structure, he said, eschewing the three-act format and following the story into "eddies" and breaking the story out into fight scenes that can last as long as 40 or 50 pages.

June 27, 2008

PAUL POPE Guest blogger

It's tough to write about a work in progress, in fact, it is perhaps wiser not to do so. If it were easier to communicate the ideas and intentions you are trying to convey with a story, you'd probably be able to skip writing the story altogether and just tell it to people, like you would with a good joke, or with directions to the beach. But how do you communicate all the invisible, ethereal things that go into the alchemical mixture that eventually leads to a story? All the music and sensation and hope and memory that informs the page? How to explain the mysterious thing without killing the mysterious thing in the process....?

Might be impossible. Might be better just to show you some of what I've been doing. Might be better to just pull the curtain back and give you a bit of the cast.

So, here we have him. BATTLING BOY.


Battling Boy is the son of a god or a super hero—it is left unspecified—who comes down from the top of a mountain (or rather, from inside a cloud/UFO contraption/contrivance from above a mountain top) at this father's behest, in order to rid a giant city from it's plague of monsters. Hercules had his labors, Batman has his Gotham, Battling Boy has his Monstropolis.

Monstropolis is a city the size of an entire continent—and it is absolutely overrun with monsters. These are horrible, Grimm's fairytale, Beowulf-ish monsters, awful things. Child-stealers. Plus some of the vampires and mummies and wolfmen we remember from the old black and white Hollywood horror films. Which—if you remember—aren't very funny. And they don't all like each other, either. Even a monster can't stand another monster, this has been proven time and time again.


And so, here is a taste of it, then. This is a bit of Battling Boy versus Humbaba, the toughest monster (or maybe at least the oldest—Humbaba can be traced back to Gilgamesh; he is the guardian of the edge of a city, or the place where a forest meets the edge of a city, as you prefer).

All I can say is—this story is pregnant with mystery, it is pretty much writing itself, and I am as impatient to see it in print as you are.

paul pope

December 12, 2007

From the Drawing Board of Paul Pope


For most of the history of American comics, storytellers have had to structure their tales in episodic chunks of narrative, their plotlines unfolding in serialized chapters from month to month. This was due to the nature of magazine publishing and the requirements of the marketplace, conditions which inadvertently influenced the medium in significant ways. As with pulp sci-fi or detective periodicals such as Astounding Stories or Detective Fiction, publishers and the reading audience alike tended to favor brief, cliffhanging narratives full of colorful, often lurid characters. Stories in the comics resembled soap operas or radio plays more than novels, a condition we still see in most mainstream superhero comics being published today. These sorts of episodic stories are not really supposed to end, like Pachelbel's Canon or The Beatles' Hey Jude, they're designed to go on forever and ever.

There is some debate about which book actually qualifies as the first true graphic novel. Will Eisner's A Contract With God is often sited, a book that's a collection of short stories about normal people living in a New York tenement building. These beautifully drawn stories are written with a subtle, literary flavor which still resonates today. This is probably the true mark of literary quality -- if a work can seem living and vital every time you re-read (or in the case of comics, every time you re-view). If that work can somehow continually enrich the person reading it again and again at different points along the walk of life, it becomes a priceless thing, like an old and continually surprising friend. For the decades preceding Eisner's attempts, "comics" as a storytelling medium relied on either the daily newspaper pages or the monthly comic book format for its stage. Whether in the hands of a great artist or a tired hack, the stapled newsprint pamphlet was the staple of comics storytelling. An artist like Milton Caniff could develop long and rather complex adult-oriented storylines in his strip Terry and the Pirates, and his work -- along with Windsor McCay's Little Nemo In Slumberland and a few others -- is still held as a high water mark in 20th century cartooning. In Europe and Asia, there were longer narratives, and some stories (such as Cendres and Pellos' Futuropolis or Osamu Tezuka's Adolph) resembled prose literature in their tone and content, however these were largely unknown outside of their home countries but to a handful of world travelers and professional artists for years and years. It has really only been for about a single generation -- maybe since the mid 1980s -- that the long format "graphic novel" has been a viable storytelling vehicle for people who want to tell stories in the comics medium, and only for that same amount of time American readers have had wider and wider access to the entire body of what I call "world comics"-- graphic stories from around the globe. Today's young reader has access to virtually the entire body of comics history, stretching from Japan to Europe to the cave-spelunking past of America's many venerable traditions.

Each facet of the comics medium is important and deserves its own special consideration, but it's the writing in comics I'm thinking about right now. I often wonder why we don't see more literary quality in the comics being published today, why we don't have a John Steinbeck or Robert Penn-Warren in our medium, authors who can unfold a filigreed theme across an extended storyline and touch on that ineffable shade we call "the human condition." Where are our Sam Hamiltons, our Willie Starks, our Jack Burdens, our Cal Trasks? It may simply be that good writing is rare. It is also entirely possible that most comics creators are simply unconcerned with developing literary themes in their work, favoring instead sweeping epics of good versus evil, populating their paper worlds with colorfully costumed heroes and villans invested with very little psychological complexity or self-awareness. It may be that most people who are attracted to the medium want very little more out of life than to draw pretty pictures, tell exciting, splashy stories, and get paid for it. There is certainly nothing wrong with those interests (I wholeheartedly share them myself), but every time I finish what Hemingway might have called "a damn good book," I can't help feeling there is always a need for more and better writing in the comics. When it comes to comics, the equivalent of a fine literary writer would have to be someone (or someones) with the implicit vision of a poet, who sees and feels life and knows how to code it into visual storytelling through comics' special melange of prose/dialogue and persuasive drawing. It seems to me a poorly drawn but well written story is far better than a well drawn, poorly written one. When we're lucky, as in the case of Gipi's Notes For A War Story, we have both together, at once. That should be our ideal, then. More stories with better art and better writing, always and forever more. Whether it's a serious meditation on the private life of a family or a madcap ruckus with kooky talking animals, all I care is that it's a comic story which is done well and it has lasting impact -- that's the literary quality I want to see in a comic.

For my upcoming projects Battling Boy and Total THB, I've been really thinking about the freedom made possible by the extended graphic novel format. It is significant to note that we've reached a point in the history of comics where an author can more-or-less work completely outside of the monthly serialized periodical format, with its inherent page strictures and narrative conformities. Nobody said it was easy or could come without paying your dues, but you can do it all the same. So long as you have something valuable to say and the talent to put it on paper, you can do it. It is no longer necessary to constantly invent some new cliffhanger every 24 to 32 pages to keep the readers coming back month after month, it is no longer necessary to come up with endlessly hyperbolic cover designs to entice new readers, no longer necessary to truncate extended scenes of character development for lack of space on the page. These are all common characteristics of the monthly comic book publishing format which many of us struggle with all the time. Now, thanks to the vigorous interest in manga on the part of new readers and the on-going assault comics is making on the whole of contemporary pop culture, cartoonists are able to approach new comics in the same way authors like Tom Wolfe or Kurt Vonnegut would've approached their latest novel. Readers crave good stories, and probably beyond that, deeper meaning. There seems to be a real psychological need for art -- for all the arts. Art offers us a reflection of interior ourselves, through the eyes and hands and words of another. Through meaningful art, we consider ourselves and our very condition of being human, and in the process, gain more insight into our true natures as living, sensing creatures living on this planet of ours which we call Earth. Comics has stepped out of the wide shadows of film and illustration, and is now invited to stand on its own, an infant medium full of potential and power. We are being invited to share our stories on a world stage, however long or short our stories might be. We've got a lot of work to do, let's show them what we've got.


July 24, 2007

PAUL POPE's new THB release at SAN DIEGO

And where to read all about it? Why at AIN'T IT COOL NEWS, of course, from the amazing Alexandra DuPont herself:

Alexandra DuPont. Heiress. Supermodel. Girlfriend to rock stars and federal politicians. Very tall nudist. She's the cutest thing alive and returns to AICN now to talk about “THB: Comics From Mars"!

This is not just a news item but a first rate introduction to Paul Pope's sweeping Martian epic.

And guess what, STAY TUNED because on the heels of all this, First Second will have more Pope news to come soon... And I don't mean the Vatican kind.


March 22, 2006


Yes, yes, yes, the rumors are true: Paul Pope is working on a massive, epic project for First Second -- in full color and for young readers.


Here's a quote from Pope in this week's PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY COMICS WEEK, just to whet a few appetites:

Battling Boy is aimed at kids and it's coming out from First Second in 2007. It's a kind of a fairytale kid Beowulf, or a Peter Pan with teeth. It's set in a mythical city called Monstropolis, a city the size of a continent that's overrun with monsters.

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