Interview: Tony Harris Wants Your Help On Next Project
Comic Vine: How long have you had the idea for Roundeye: For Love?
Tony Harris: It's been over ten years. I've been trying in one form or another to get it published for the entirety of that ten years. But the stars just didn't align. Because I have a family and I gotta keep working, to be a viable voice in the industry you kind of have to stay on the stands. You can't go huge gaps in your career with something coming out. Although I am known probably as well as a cover artist as I am an interior artist, I think at the end of the day you have to choose. You can't do both. I think I'd rather tell stories and I'd give up the cover stuff in order to keep telling stories. You can only do so much with a single image. == TEASER ==
So I had to keep going and developed Roundeye well over ten years ago as kind of an experimental thing. I did it around the same time I was doing Obergeist for Top Cow. Hence the sort of different style. For twenty-two years, I've been known primarily for a very realistic approach to things. With Roundeye and Obergeist it's very much more energetic, loose, non-photo referenced with a sort of animation look to it. And I can't even tell you why other than I always let the project that I'm doing dictate to me what the work needs to look like. I think that's why you'll find from Starman to Dr. Strange to Obergeist, Roundeye, Ex Machina, Spider-Man…everyone of those different projects, if you go back and look at them in ernest, I dare you not to see considerable differences in the way the work is executed.
Roundeye was a direct result of Obergeist. Obergeist was me trying to play around with a very loose, energetic animation style. I was developing Roundeye at the time but I didn't quite have the look nailed down for it. I learned a lot and made a lot of mistakes when I was doing 'Geist, with the art, not necessarily with my story telling.
In the coming weeks I'll be doing some updates on the Kickstarter site, actually showing some of the very first stabs at Roundeye and what I thought he should look like. Initially I was going to write it and bring in another artist and I've worked with many people over the years. Ultimately I was like, wow, I need to be doing it. It's a very personal project, basically kind of a love letter to my wife. That's why it's called For Love.That's why you haven't seen it published yet. I've just been earning a living and trying to make a name for myself in the industry for twenty-two years. I did actually pitch it to Wildstorm and several other publishers but I was declined every time. And not because they thought it wasn't any good because I remember when I pitched it to Wildstorm, this was when I was hired to do Ex Machina, Ex Machina was a direct result of me pitching Roundeye to Wildstorm. It had to go up the chain of command. All the guys at Wildstorm loved it but DC made the ultimate choice that it wasn't commercial enough. They didn't think they could find the right audience for it. And that's fair, it's their company and their policy. But then I got Machina as a result of that and went on that six year route. So finally out of desperation and frustration and knowing that I'm getting older and that there's only a finite number of projects that you'll be able to get to and produce before you're gone. This is not one I'm willing to let fall by the wayside.
CV: Is this the first project that you've written?
TH: Solo, yes. I co-wrote JSA: The Liberty File and the sequel, The Unholy Three, the Obergeist miniseries, Lazarus Five with Dan Jolly and Doctor Strange: The Flight Of Bones. But this is my first time writing things on my own. I am going to have a very talented editor and my wife as well come in, she's a great writer, and clean me up on the back end to make sure I don't sound like a complete dolt.
CV: Where does the project stand, has it been started yet, is it written, are you waiting for the funding?
TH: It's in flux, the whole thing's been written. I wrote it out in long plot form, where there's bits of dialogue and exposition here and there but it's basically a plot per page describing the action without any dialogue. That's completely written and has been for quite some time. It went through a few revisions over the years but I've got it done to the final structure for how I want to put the story together. As a first time solo writer, I'd writing it very much the old school Marvel plots. There's very little, if any, dialogue except for notations that I've made in a little diary that I've kept for ten years.
I've published an eight-page short story in full color through Desperado Publishing in 2005. It's sort of a prelude to the whole thing. It shows the night the two main characters find each other and realize that there's a connection there. It's something that I will never actually put into the graphic novel. It'll be a companion to the graphic novel but you'll never actually see this as their path in the book. So that's published. There's also a huge wrap around piece that covered my art book that was just released. There's a huge section of Roundeye inside that book that has most of the existing material. And I've started drawing the penciled pages for the actual graphic novel, I'm about three pages into it. But again, it's all been stop and start over the years because I'd get a little time here and there.
CV: I'm going to assume you'll reach the goal, so on January 30th, from that point, how long until Roundeye would be complete?
TH: Probably because of my commitments I have in front of me…if the funding comes through, knock on wood, let's hope that does happen, I'll be looking at being completely booked for about two years. And that includes Roundeye. I have my new creator-owned series coming out from DC called The Further Adventures of the Whistling Skull with B. Clay Moore and that is already in progress. I've already painted all the covers for it. I'm waiting for final approval for the script to number 1. I've also been speaking to Robert Kirkman over at Image. We have, along with Mark Millar, come up with a really excellent solution to finishing War Heroes. Robert reached out to both of us and said, "Listen, I'm a big fan of the book. It's such a shame to not see it get finished, what do we have to do to get this done?" There's those two things and Roundeye. Hopefully the funding will come through and within about roughly two years, maybe a little more, I'll have the three of those finished.
CV: You're also doing some work with James Robinson, working on the Shade again.
TH: Yeah, it's a twelve issue miniseries. They did a soft announcement. They haven't done an official press release yet, but everyone kind of knows it's happening. I've got the first script and it's wonderful. I've read the outline for the whole thing. I think it's going to be a rotating arc of artists and I'm pretty certain who the first one will be. They were very nice to call and ask if I'd come on board and paint all the covers.
CV: Ex Machina ended, how does it feel for the story to be complete? Are you happy, sad, is the pressure's off doing a monthly book…?
TH: All of that. Yes to all of that. The pressure's off. It was supposed to be a monthly book but it didn't turn out that way. At the end of the day, we were working on this series for six years. For the record, to all the nay-sayers, we averaged ten issues a year, which is almost monthly. It was a lot of pressure to produce and it was mostly my fault because I was very adamant about not having fill in artists. I wanted to draw all fifty issues. I miss it now.
You do the same thing every day for six years and then bam, suddenly one day it's just over. It's really jarring. Especially since a lot of my friends were models for characters. I don't see them as often as I used to. But it was also refreshing to be finished. I'm very proud of that body of work. When it's all collected in hardcover, it's going to be so nice to see that sitting on my shelf, to have that sort of legacy to give to my children. It's very exciting to say that chapter of my life is closed now. The future's so bright I gotta wear shades. There's so many things in development…if I complained right now, I'd be a liar.
CV: What's the next thing we're going to see from you, is it Whistling Skull?
TH: Yes, that will be the first thing. I've been approved for the first six issues, that arc, but they know it's an ongoing series. It's a finite one much like Ex Machina was. It's set to be forty issues. What we'd like to do is a series of miniseries, much like Hellboy. Which means, when it comes out, it'll come out monthly. Then I'll be hard at work on the next arc while that arc is being published.
Roundeye will begin in the course of that period as well. As well as War Heroes. I'll be rotating back and forth on all three projects. I'm going to sit down with my business manager and my wife at the beginning of the year and we're going to put together a publishing schedule that's real, not something that's unreachable. That way nobody gets disappointed, we're going to do everything we commit to. Everything's going to come out when we say it's going to come out.
CV: I know it's early for next year but do you have any convention plans?
TH: Yeah, I do. I'm supposed to be in Seattle for the Emerald City Comic Con. Of course Heroes Con, I'll be there. I never miss that. I have not in twenty-two years. Aside from those two shows, I'm not sure yet. I've been talking to a few people and there's a possibility of one in Holland and a few others that are in the States. But I'm not sure yet.
CV: Did you say Holland?
TH: Yeah, I'm starting to do more European shows now. I've done the American circuit for so long now. I think I might be spreading myself too thin here. I haven't done any shows in Europe. There's so many of them and I've just realized through friends and fans that there is a lot of interest in me going over and do some. My good friend Barry Kitson has been kind enough to connect me with the right people. We just returned from a convention in the UK. That was fantastic. We did a Barcelona show two or three years ago so we'll see what happens. I'll probably do very few shows next year because my plate is very very full and I don't want to overcommit and not be able to produce the work that I'm there to promote.
CV: Anything else you want to add?
TH: Yeah, a couple things. The structure of producing a comic is not a cheap thing. It's an expensive venture, especially if you're talking about mainstream publishing. I've had a few people concerned and ask me about the goal we set for it. They thought it might be a little high. When you think about it, working over the coarse of two years, not just penciling it but producing all of it, writing, penciling, inking, coloring, post-prodcution, design of the book, production fees…it's very expensive. Beyond that, there's advertising costs. See, I'm not even publishing the book. The goal is for the revenue to produce the material. And then take it to an interested party and have them do the actual publishing and distribution.
The other thing I'll say is with Kickstarter it's all or nothing. If we don't reach that goal, then there is no funding. No one should be afraid to commit at this point because no one's card is actually charged until the goal is met. It's not like they'll charge $30,000 on people's cards, we don't meet the goal and those people don't get their money back. Nothing is charged until the goal is met. It's January 30th. There'll be massive updates in the next couple weeks and I'll tease you with this. I'm working with an animation company in Hollywood, putting together a motion comic on Roundeye that we'll actually be premiering on the Kickstarter site. It'll contain the eight page short I mentioned. I put it into motion comic format sort like a film trailer. We're also putting in the cover art from my art book and pieces that people have not seen. It's very exciting so keep your eyes peeled on Kickstarter for that. I'll be updating everything on Twitter. You can find me on Twitter at @TONYFINGHARRIS and you can also get me on my website which is JollyRogerStudio.com as well as my blog which is ArtAndSkulDuggery.blogspot.com.
Be sure to head over to Kickstarter to check out a video with Tony and to find out even more about the project.
I already started donating as soon as I found out he wanted to do this on ComicsAlliance. Tony really is one of my all time fav artist, I'll donate all I can to make this lovely vision a glorious reality. Look forward to Whistling Skull and The Shade maxi(or is it mini?) series. Hope that War Heroes gets done someday.
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