Tuesday, December 26, 2006
The McCloud kids, Sky and Winter are just as creative as their dad, and make videos called "Winterviews". As you can see, they must have been trying to interview the Baker girls Lillian and Jackie, but the boring old man wouldn't get out of the shot.
Scott's new book is called "Making Comics". If you read it, you will be able to make comics!
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Here's what we wrote about it in September.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Ike needs a Tissue in THE NOSE. Based on a story from the new full color deluxe hardcover book THE BAKERS: "DO THESE TOYS BELONG SOMEWHERE?" available in comic stores now and in THE KYLE BAKER GIFT SHOP" at http://www.kylebaker.com/www/kbgiftshop/giftshopHOME.html A gorgeous holiday gift, by the way!
Monday, December 04, 2006
Behold The Majesty! Experience The Wonder! Our Most Extravagant Animated Motion Picture Yet! SLEEPING BEAUTY Based on a story from the book CARTOONIST VOL.2 available in comic stores now and in THE KYLE BAKER GIFT SHOP at http://www.kylebaker.com/www/kbgiftshop/cartoonist2.htm.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Kyle Baker Joins Image Comics
This story originally appeared in PW Comics Week on November 28, 2006 Sign up now!
by Calvin Reid, PW Comics Week -- 11/28/2006
After two years of self-publishing his own works, Kyle Baker, the much acclaimed Eisner –award–winning humor cartoonist, announced plans to join the Berkeley, Calif., independent comics publisher Image Comics. Beginning in February, Image will publish Nat Turner Book 2: Revolution, the second volume of Baker's ongoing series about the legendary American slave who organized a violent slave rebellion in the antebellum South.
Image Comics executive director Eric Stephenson described Baker as "one of the most talented creators in the field. His work is at turns powerful, at others funny, but always masterfully executed. We couldn't be prouder than to welcome him to the Image Comics family." In addition to a new trade paper volume of Nat Turner , Image will also publish four original Baker paperback titles. The books include Important Literary Journal ,Special Forces ,Laika and The Bakers: Babies & Kittens . Baker says he's also planning a book on his animation work (with a DVD included) as well as toys and sculptures based on his Bakers characters.
Important Literary Journal is a parody of high-art comics and Baker joked that the book will include "the meaning of life," essays, stories and gag cartoons as well as an instructional on "how to draw stupid." Special Forces is the story of a small town autistic teen ushered into the army by overly aggressive military recruiters and sent off to Iran. "Think C atch-22 meets Being There ," says Baker. Laika is an update on the first dog launched into space in 1957 by the Russians. Fifty years later, Sputnik returns to Earth with a rocket-lagged Laika, and the little dog has developed super powers. Baker says the book tells how "a little American girl saves the planet from alien monsters with the help of a superpowered Russian dog." Last but not least, there is a new installment of Baker's popular series, The Bakers , loosely based on his on household. Mom and the kids want a cat, but Dad's allergic and, naturally, hijinks ensue. Baker told PWCW the new Bakers book will "blow the needle off the cute-meter! You can't make this crap up. I live like this."
After four years self-publishing, Baker said he's just too busy making books to continue publishing them himself. "I didn't know how much work it was to be a publisher," said Baker. "But it helped to see the workings of publishing. I figured out all the things that my old publishers weren't doing." Baker said he still loved "selling the books and meeting fans at conventions," but said he was happy to turn over certain chores, like fulfillment, to Image. "I don't like filling orders. After I'd get that first big order, I'd drive to the post office with 1,000 books and three baby seats in the car. After that, I spent too much time chasing down $6 orders."
Kyle Baker Publishing released four books: The Bakers , the first volume of Nat Turner and two volumes of Cartoonist . While he's happy to be with a small independent house like Image, Baker said he began self-publishing because he was tired of having "bone-headed conversations with the publisher about my drawing." He also complained about the difficulty getting big publishers to work on unconventional marketing or promotional tactics. "The stuff I do has built-in markets," said Baker, pointing to books like his religiously oriented King David as well as family fare like The Bakers . "Sometimes, with big publishers, you can't even get a box of your own books."
KYLE BAKER MOVES TO IMAGE!
Everybody loves Kyle Baker! Aaron MacGruder called him "the best in the graphic novel business," Frank Miller says he's got "a nasty wit," and now Baker's making Image Comics his new home!
Starting in February 2007, Image will be presenting the concluding volume of the critically acclaimed Eisner Award winning graphic novel NAT TURNER, upcoming episodes of his hilarious family humor series THE BAKERS, and some new titles as well, including the long-awaited IMPORTANT LITERARY JOURNAL.
"Taking my books to Image was a no-brainer," Baker says. "First of all, it's a major publishing house run by cartoonists! And not just any cartoonists, really great cartoonists! I've been wanting to join up with these guys since they started the company in the '90s, and now that the line has expanded to include a wider array of genres such as humor, horror, war and mystery, I feel there's finally room at Image for Kyle Baker books. The Image folks have a real passion for comics and really go out of their way to do things right, and for a guy like me, there's nothing more important."
Image's presentation of Kyle Baker's new work starts with Nat Turner Book 2: Revolution. The winner of the 2006 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work charges to its shocking conclusion with Turner's final stand against the evil institution of slavery. The Washington Post called Nat Turner, "a great teaching aid..." that evokes "the diabolic slave trade's real horrors." Don't miss the conclusion of one of the decade's most important comics.
Image Comics Executive Director Eric Stephenson says, "Kyle is one of the most talented creators in the field, and his work is at turns powerful, at others funny, but always masterfully executed. We couldn't be prouder than to welcome him to the Image Comics family."
Nat Turner Book 2: Revolution is available in December Previews and ships February 14. (DIAMOND #DEC061867; PRICE: $10.00)
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Newsarama's Matt Brady interviewed Paul Dini on the up-coming comic THE BAKERS MEET JINGLE BELLE (Dark Horse), slated for release December 13
Paul Dini's popular live journal http://kingofbreakfast.livejournal.com/
has a page from the book (see Nov 17th entry).
Everyone says it but it's true: Paul Dini is so nice!
And more important posts to come...
Thursday, November 23, 2006
And the show is a hit...
Class of 3000 Scores as Cartoon Network's Biggest Original Series Premiere Since 2004
Cartoon Network's Class of 3000 from André "3000" Benjamin (OutKast) and Tom Lynch (Romeo!), earned the network's highest kids 6-11, boys 6-11 and boys 2-11 delivery and ratings performance for an original series premiere since 2004, according to preliminary data from Nielsen Media Research. The animated series, featuring original music from André "3000" Benjamin, also ranked as Friday night's (7 p.m.-12 a.m.) #1 telecast on all television—both broadcast and cable—among boys 6-11 and boys 2-11. Compared to the same time period last year, the 8 p.m. premiere charted impressive double-digit gains across all target demos, including kids 6-11 and kids 2-11 delivery and ratings. A Saturday morning encore presentation at 10 a.m. also earned significant double-digit growth.
"We're extremely pleased by Class of 3000's premiere performance last Friday, particularly with its #1 ranking for the night among boys," said Jim Samples, executive vice president and general manager, Cartoon Network. "Audience response to the series has been overwhelmingly positive. It's just what we hoped for."
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Baker, the outrageously talented Eisner- and Harvey Award-winning artist behind such diverse projects as KING DAVID, PLASTIC MAN and cult classic WHY I HATE SATURN, has turned his attentions to more personal matters with this full-color collection of cartoon vignettes about family life. The family in question, based on Baker's own, consists of three irrepressible children and the harried couple who are their parents. In this world of alternatively angelic and screaming kids, no detail of domestic life is too petty for good-natured skewering. Feeding techniques, getting kids dressed, and secret tips for frustating parents all make an appearance. No surprise that Daddy Baker, who comes complete with dreadlocks and credit card, is frequently depicted with a smile bordering on a grimace. The tumult and confusion of this world is implied rather than spelled out. The brief comics are virtually text-free, with exaggeratedly cartoonish yet expressive artwork doing double duty as both explication and illustration. The physical comedy of the family's silent movie exploits gives the cartoons a silent retro feel that echoes the antic humor found in MAD magazine. This combination of Baker's inventive visual gags and chuckling familiarity makes the project endlessly appealing.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
p.s. We had planned on taking Lillian to Raina Telgemeier and Abby Denson at Rocketship last Sunday, but unfortunately could not make it. Drats!
Women Comic Artists: influential comic artists discuss how women have contributed to the development of the comics medium, 6:30 pm
Leela Corman, Joan Hilty, Sabrina Jones and Trina Robbins at The Jewish Museum
p.s Thank you Christina at Dark Horse Comics for Trina and Anne Timmon's new GO GIRL. Lillian: "It was very good. My favorite story was when they get trapped in the computer. It was cool because they went Manga."
Scott McCloud will be at NYU at 7 pm, promoting MAKING COMICS. His website has more info about the book and the McCloud Family US tour!
We have REALLY enjoyed Scott and Ivy McCloud's young daughters Sky and Winter's Winterviews!
Comic Superheroes Live on the Silver Screen!
At 92Y at 7 pm
Arie Kaplan and Eddy Friedfeld
With no fewer than four movies featuring comic superheroes this past summer, it appears Hollywood has been taken over by men in capes and leotards. Looking
at clips from some recent movies, the fantastic duo of comics writer Arie Kaplan and entertainment journalist Eddy Friedfeld explain why comics have become the new American mythology.
Mad magazine contributor Arie Kaplan is the author of Masters of the Comic Book Universe Revealed! Eddy Friedfeld is the coauthor of Sid Caesar’s autobiography, Caesar’s Hours.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Cartoon Network Enrolls in Class of 3000
Joe Strike chats with Tom Lynch about collaborating with André “3000” Benjamin on Cartoon Network’s new animated series, Class of 3000.
"...Lynch and Benjamin’s greatest coup may have been lining up an all-star roster of “guest art directors” from both within and without the animation world. Each episode features a music video sequence with its own unique look, set to an original André 3000 tune. Talent on the order of Ren & Stimpy’s John Kricfalusi, comics artist and illustrator Bill Sienkiewicz, cartoonist Kyle Baker and Aeon Flux creator Peter Chung will be overseeing segments that Benjamin compares to “mini-Fantasias” within each episode."
and from The Sunday Paper
"...every episode will feature an original Benjamin composition and an accompanying music video, created under the watchful eye of "guest art directors" including John Kricfalusi ("Ren and Stimpy") and celebrated comics artists Bill Sienkiewicz and Kyle Baker."
The brilliant Overton Loyd was also a guest art director -Liz
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Kyle contributed to The Cartoon Network's Class of 3000, starring Outkast's Andre 3000.
The live premiere was Friday November 3 at 7pm (e/p); Kyle worked on the November 24th episode (also Lillian's 8th birthday!)
Here is a New York Times review
Class of 3000 producer Joe Horne (2nd from left, in black cape) celebrated his birthday and Halloween with friends, including Kyle (on right, in mouse ears...the kids LOVED that!)
Kyle forwarded just the photos to me; if anyone can identify these folks, please do. Thank you!
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Batman, non-evil fairy and "evil fairy guardian." We have been reading a lot of Brian Froud lately.
Doesn't Lillian resemble a coal-mining Deborah Harry?
p.s. Kyle commented that the kids weren't smiling. Isaac IS smiling, but the mask is covering it, Jackie is a tiny diva and does not smile on-demand, and "evil fairy" Lillian wanted to stay in character. It is miraculous all three kids are sitting still (see cartoon on page 15-16 of THE BAKERS, available at www.kylebaker.com)
But the “parade” was actually a short stroll ending at a PACKED playground party. Like something from a BAKERS cartoon, all three children vanished into a sea of pumpkins, princesses and their pooped parents. My friend wisely brought her sitter, so an Eye Witness News disaster was averted.
There was free juice and donuts (in case children didn’t get enough sugar), as well as a podium and microphone. But instead of delightful Halloween tunes, we heard: “We have a four year old forest elf missing. Please, please, look around you: if you see a little girl covered in leaves...” or “Zoe, this is your mother. Come to the podium NOW.”
I forgot my cell phone, so when I heard “Would Elizabeth please come to the podium” I immediately grabbed my Dark Knight by the arm and went to investigate.
It was an Isaac-sized masked ninja: Ahh! Wrong kid! He wasn’t frightened, though, probably because I was wearing benevolent fuzzy bug antennas.
I found Isaac, got to the podium: Ahh! Wrong Elizabeth!
The party in my friend’s building was a blast: elaborate spooky decorations, eyeball punch, graveyard cake, finger-shaped finger cookies (in case children didn’t get enough sugar) and 12 floors of blissful trick-or-treating.
As Lillian (aka The Sugar Queen) said: “I should have dressed like an angel, because this is heaven.”
Thank you to our gracious hosts!
Sunday, October 29, 2006
With Kyle still in LA, the theme this Halloween is "Mom is Not Stressing Out." Rule #1 of mellow-momdom involves being prepared; see Kyle's animated "The Mall" to witness the joys of last-minute Baker shopping.
So we're all ready: Isaac loves his macho-muscles Batman costume (thank you Grandma!), Jackie has her choice of adorable outfits (princess or ballerina) but Lillian still needed to accessorize her "Evil Fairy" costume.
We easily found fairy accoutrements in our neighborhood: wings, wig, eyelashes, makeup. You can't buy children's shoes or a stroller in the East Village, but outfitting a "fairy" (ahem) is no problem at all.
Back home, the dress rehearsal was a huge success (we'll post photos) until Jackie spotted her sister.
"I WANNA BE A FAIRY, TOO!!!!!!"
Sigh...back to the store.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
"That's Robot Chicken! I love Robot Chicken."
Mom's defense: it wasn't me! It was that evil babysitter!
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I went to The Comic Art Professional Society tribute to Jack Davis at the Porter Valley Country Club on Saturday, Oct. 21.
I had car trouble, and hadn't really read the invitation until that day,
when I discovered it was formal, with jacket and tie required! I'm currently here in LA on a job, and living out of a suitcase full of t-shirts and shorts, which were expressly forbidden at this fancy club. I didn't have time to both fix the car and buy clothes before the 6:30 banquet. I was tempted to give up, but this was a rare opportunity to meet my personal cartooning hero, the legendary Jack Davis! I fixed the car.
As I hobbled toward the ritzy entrance wearing borrowed (stolen) clothes which were too small for me (I couldn't button my jacket or pants), I worried this might be one of those country clubs that excludes ethnic minorities with exposed navels and no socks. I mentally prepared some elaborate alibi about being Tiger Woods' forgotten idiot relative. I needed a name. Sportin' Woods? Anyway, before I could get my story straight in my head, the well-dressed man at the door took one look at the horrible hairy moron shambling before him and said, "You must be Kyle Baker". And he was right.
Fortunately for everyone involved, there were superior and better-dressed cartoonists there, including
Benton and Anson Jew
Scott Shaw! (Don't forget the exclamation point!)
And many more! All of them fans of mighty Jack Davis!
As a kid my biggest inspirations were Walt Disney cartoons and MAD magazine. That's what made me want to be a cartoonist. Most of the cartoonists at the event grew up on Jack Davis' work.
It was a real treat to see a display of ACTUAL Jack Davis paintings, including his famous poster for Woody Allen's "Bananas". I spent a lot of time just staring at the paintings, trying to decipher the secrets of his technique.
We watched an educational and inspiring film of Davis at work in his studio. First he did a line drawing in pen, then he added a light source with sepia washes, then added some watercolor hues on top. Every cartoonist watching the film was feverishly making mental notes.
I am often hesitant to meet my heroes, for fear of shattering my illusions. In this case, the man behind the curtain is a true wizard. Jack Davis is exactly like his work. Inviting, friendly, humorous, engaging, and tasteful.
Mr. Davis told us he had just come from a visit to the Disney/Pixar animation studios, and he effusively expressed his amazement at the 3d computer imagery produced there.
Jack told us he was greatly influenced by Walt Disney cartoons, which is why he knows big hands and feet are essential for comedy. I was going to tell him about my current job at Disney, but then I remembered God gave me two ears and only one mouth for a reason. I shut up and listened.
Sergio and Jack told funny stories about their travels around the world. My favorite was the story about their trip to Mexico, and how Jack Davis held an umbrella over Sergio's mother in the rain while she cooked for her son's friends. It was one of many illustrations of what a great friendly guy Jack Davis is. My favorite "Sergio is a great guy" story of the evening was about the time a translator was hired for a public appearance at a venue where it was mistakenly assumed Sergio couldn't speak English. Not wanting to see the translator lose a paying job, Sergio pretended he couldn't understand English for the duration of the gig.
The brilliantly entertaining Mark Evanier was also there, and describes the cool awards that were given. Read about it and see photos here:
Saturday, October 21, 2006
From Arie's website (which has Amazon links):
My first book, Masters of the Comic Book Universe Revealed!, was published in September 2006 by Chicago Review Press. It's a series of Rolling Stone-style biographical profiles of great artists – in this case, comic book creators. By chronicling their lives and careers, I'm presenting a sort of oral history of the comics medium itself. I interviewed and profiled eleven innovative and influential comic book luminaries – Will Eisner (The Spirit), Jerry Robinson (Batman), Stan Lee (Spider-Man), Trina Robbins (GoGirl!), Art Spiegelman (Maus), Gilbert Hernandez (Love & Rockets), Kyle Baker (Why I Hate Saturn), Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Dwayne McDuffie (Static Shock), Ho Che Anderson (KING), and Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis).
From the 20-page Kyle Baker chapter:
"Kyle Baker is the cartoonist who put the "comic" back in comic books. In an industry where graphic novels conern either brooding, jaded superheroes or brooding, jaded Gen-X (or Gen-Y) loners, Baker tells defiantly funny stories. There's no hidden agenda here, there are no existential musings on whether we're alone in the universe or the fact that with great power comes great responsibility. His graphic novels like WHY I HATE SATURN are about everyday people falling in love, fighting, xxxing, stabbing each other in the back, and generally making the audience guffaw with their infantile shenanigans. The fate of the world isn't at stake; the only thing at stake in a Kyle Baker book is often the protagonist's rent check, which may or may not bounce. His stories are a welcome breather from the all-too-dramatic fare normally found in most comics, and their relatability and lightness of tone make them not only welcome, but necessary.
But like a film or television comedian who's decided he needs to broaden his range, he's used his growing clout to found his own publishing company and divide his time between frothy, humorous fare like THE COWBOY WALLY SHOW or his PLASTIC MAN series for DC; sprawing biblical epics like KING DAVID; and serious works with political and historical significance, like his breath-taking self-published NAT TURNER miniseries, or the political satire graphic novel BIRTH OF A NATION, his collaboration with HOUSE PARTY director Reginald Hudlin and BOONDOCKS creator Aaron MacGruder. And somehow the polymath workhorse has found time to write and direct various animation projects for film and television, often overseeing every aspect of each production in true auteur style from his studio in Manhattan's SoHo district. As a renaissance man and a storyteller with an innate sense of the theatrical, Kyle Baker is more than comics' court jester, he's its Woody Allen."
I really enjoyed this book. Learning how successful individuals get from here to there, so to speak, is fascinating to me. While each creator's journey was unique, they all share talent, determination, and work incredibly long hours.
As Marjane Satrapi said "...you have to be almost like a monk to be able to make comics."
p.s. Thank you Arie and Nadine!
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Regarding children and comics: Kyle just did a BART SIMPSON’S TREEHOUSE OF HORROR story (mentioned on our blog http://thebakersanimationcartoons.blogspot.com/), as did Terry Moore and Eric Powell. All three stories were hilarious.
Bongo is a wonderful publisher, and Kyle enjoyed working with them; he hopes to work with them again in the future.
These are just my comments as a parent:
Kyle’s story is in the middle of the comic, a family-friendly tale about fairies. The other two stories, particularly the last one, are not family-friendly. But it is a “horror” comic, so there you go.
But to my mind, this TREEHOUSE comic symbolizes the challenges parents face as they navigate their local comic shop (if there is one): you have to bypass a lot of inappropriate material to find the kiddie section (if there is one). Really, why bother? Our family shops at the local comic book store (we love them!), but none of my “mommy-friends” do.
I do know moms who shop at Walmart, K-Mart, Target. Imagine if these stores had an extensive quality comics/graphic novel section for young readers? Books like ARCHIE, THE BAKERS (shameless plug, sorry), BONE, OWLY, Scholastic, etc. as well as superheroes?
I can dream, can’t I?
p.s. Heidi: we love your blog!
Click here to see the comic. http://kylebaker.com/www/lilliancomics/anna.htm
Love, Liz (aka mom)
Monday, October 16, 2006
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Lillian: "Jackie, go and fight the laundry. It's mom's worst enemy."
Saturday, October 07, 2006
This church is a wonderful part of our East Village community. ALPHABET
CITY: Everything A-Z is fascinating, and includes art by Kyle Baker
(directly from our living room!).
Alphabet City: Everything A-Z
Host: The Father's Heart Ministry Center
Location: The Father's Heart Ministry Center
545 East 11th Street, New York, NY View Map
When: Thursday, October 5, 6:00pm -
Saturday, October 7, 6 to 10:00 pm
The art show aims to explore, through art, what life is like in a gentrifying neighborhood and to celebrate the diversity and richness of the community.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Lillian spied MOM'S CANCER and really wanted to read it. I wasn't sure if it was appropriate (she is 7) but know there is nothing keeping her from a graphic novel or comic book that she wants to read. It is like showing off a box of chocolates and not giving her one.
So I decided to read MOM'S CANCER with her so we could talk about it. If you have or have had cancer in your family, you really see yourselves in the story. The book's non-preachy anti-smoking message is powerful. If I taught health class to vulnerable youth, I would require this book to be read.
Favorite part: sibling superheros.
MOM'S CANCER, edited by the wonderful Charlie Kochman at Abrams, is up for a Quill Award October 10. Good luck!
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
1. With our accountant's proverbial gun pointing at us, Kyle and I are doing our 2005 taxes (no more extensions).
One word: YUCK!
2. We have been overwhelmed with NAT TURNER Vol. 1 (of 2) orders.
I want to set up a romper room section in our local post office: Liz is there every day.
Thanks for buying the book!
And more news on The Bakers to come...
Saturday, September 23, 2006
The patient, professional Nina Habib Spencer of the Hunter College High School Alumnotes newsletter conducted this early-evening phone interview with Class-of-1983 Kyle Baker while he simultaneously tried to feed and bathe all three children (I had passed out, as the story embarrassingly points out). And he was preoccupied by an expected LA call.
I remember being in a semi-coma, waking up periodically to see Kyle with phone crooked in his neck, carrying a fussy baby in left arm, parenting the others with his right, yet giving this great, funny interview.
Kyle attended Hunter from 7th to 12th grades, commuting 3 hours each day to and from Queens. Robert Simpson of Dark Horse Comics, MAD Magazine writer Desmond Devlin and the Hollywood writer/producers Joelle Sellner and Eric Kaplan are also alumni/friends. Kyle called it "an egghead" school.
Thank you to Marge Kolb and Nina for the profile.
p.s. I tried to transfer this article in pdf form (which includes Kyle's art) from computer to this blog but couldn't; the blogger website says that this is a current "issue." Sorry about that; will keep trying.
Alum Profile: Kyle Baker ’83
by Nina HABIB Spencer ’90
Spring 2006 | ALUMNOTES | 5
4 | ALUMNOTES | Hunter College High School Alumnae/i Association
It’s not exactly a quiet evening at home for Kyle Baker. After a full day caring
for their three kids, his wife Liz is passed out on the sofa. Now it’s his turn.
He juggles a telephone in one hand (for this interview) and three squirmy kids in the other. The cat has jumped on the table and is eating the baby’s corn. And there’s that important phone call from L.A. coming any minute, possibly telling him that he’s one step closer to making his comic series of his family’s life, The Bakers, into an animated television series.
One look at a Bakers comic triggers instant recognition in the reader. Why, it’s your own family, right there on the page! How did Kyle know that my kids also hit the pavement like a whiny twoton pile of bricks whenever we’re late? How could he guess that, on occasion, I too have pretended not to notice a
sagging poopy diaper in hopes that my spouse will smell it “first” and change it?
The brilliance of The Bakers lies not only in Kyle’s hilarious renderings of his immediate family, but also with his recognition that every child and every parent—
regardless of the country or culture— have pretty much the same issues. “It’s a
mix of Cosby and Erma Bombeck,” Kyle says, laughing. It’s easy to see why it
would make great T.V.
Kyle’s parents, both of whom were artists, recognized his artistic talents early on. At age three, he had his first encounter with a comic book. It wasn’t the superhero kind, but the naughty, tongue-in-cheekspace- between-the-teeth Mad magazine kind. “It was a permissive time,” he says, laughing. He drew a great deal as a child, but didn’t consider it a possible profession. He changed his mind during senior year at Hunter. First, there was the chemistry class he failed (“possibly because I was drawing in class”), making a career in science, as he had originally intended, seem impossible. Then, there was his ICY project—an internship at Marvel Comics. Kyle had found his calling.
After college, Kyle spent several years shuttling back and forth between Marvel and
DCComics, illustrating many of the superheroes you know: Spiderman, X-Men, and the Shadow, among many others. But he wasn’t happy. “It was a bad business,” according to Kyle, “because as an artist, if you worked on Spiderman and the sales of Spiderman went up all of a sudden because of a movie deal, you got nothing.” In those days, the big comics houses treated their artists as if they were a dime a dozen. “They figured anyone could draw Superman,” says Kyle. “It was the character, not the artist, who sold the magazines, right?” In the late 1990s, though, when top illustrators cried foul and refused to work unless the terms of their employment were changed, Marvel had a terrifying brush with bankruptcy. What followed was a boon to artists like Kyle.
Kyle spent a good part of the 1990s in Hollywood writing television pilots and working on animated films like SHREK and LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTIONI. But he was never satisfied with the work, and continued to work on his own comic book amd graphic novel ideas. He also continued to sell cartoons to THE NEW YORKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES, ESQUIRE, ROLLING STONE and many othe publications. For three years, he illustrated the strip, "Bad Publicity," in NEW YORK MAGAZINE. When he completed work on his book YOU ARE HERE, he took advantage of the recent changes in illustrators' contracts with comics publishers and called around to comics houses in hopes of selling the book to the highest bidder. But word had gotten out about Kyle's book and DC Comics ended up calling him. And as he had always wanted, this time he received a cut of the sales and an interest in any future deals that might stem from the book.
Something interesting happened to Kyle when he gained more control over his work. He wanted more: more autonomy, more decision-making power and more ownership over the words and artwork that sprang from his mind. His work was becoming increasingly sophisticated, historical and political, and he knew the DC and Marvel Comics of the world wouldn’t be willing to take a risk on these new ideas. Kyle formed Kyle Baker Publishing so he could draw the stories that really mattered to him. “I knew DC Comics would not sell Nat Turner or The Bakers in stores. I knew that if I went in to them with it, they’d change it.”
“I was re-reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and came upon the one or two pages in the book about Nat Turner,” Kyle explains. “I thought it would make a fantastic comic. There’s a lot of action. Anytime I told a black person I was working on a book about Nat Turner, they’d say, ‘Oh yeah! That’s a great story!’ He’s a hero to black folks,” says Kyle. “But most other people don’t know about him. When I started, I wasn’t sure what the market would be.” Kyle combined Nat Turner’s actual prison confessions with incidents from a book he had read about modern slavery in Sudan to flesh out the remarkable story of the nation’s most important slave rebellion. He took a significant financial risk in 2005 when he published the first two of the four-volume series. The risk paid off.
Kyle’s story has few words. But it reads like Tolstoy. Every page fills the reader with rage, sorrow and adrenaline. No Spiderman storyline can compete with Turner’s real life tribulations and the pent-up anguish that led to his act of vengeance. A few sections in particular showcase Kyle’s masterful ability to tell a wordless story. At the end of Nat Turner Volume 2, Turner’s young son, infant, and wife are torn kicking and screaming from his arms at a slave auction. In the next frame, we see Turner’s white owners lovingly putting their own children in their downy beds that evening. From below, we see Turner, staring at the children’s lit window, eyes blazing with rage and fists clenched. When he returns to his shack and sees his own children’s doodlings in the dirt floor, the readers know a powerful transformation has taken place. For seven pages, Kyle hasn’t written a word. But his keen ability to render human emotion has spoken volumes.
Kyle printed 4,000 each of the first two volumes of Nat Turner. To his surprise, they quickly sold out. “I didn’t expect it to be profitable,” Kyle says of his first self-publishing venture. He expects Volumes 3 and 4, now in the works, to be received just as well. But don’t expect to find Nat Turner or The Bakers in those dark,
cluttered comic book stores that dot every major city. [“The guys who work in comic book stores really do look like the guy from the Simpsons,” Kyle jokes.] Perhaps these stores—filled with violent fare and the stuff of thirteen-year-old boys’ fantasies—are not quite ready for true stories of the horrors of slavery or even the sophisticated humor of family life. But Kyle is hopeful. If Nat Turner can sell out on his website (www.kylebaker.com) and if he can get mobbed at comics trade shows by fans wanting autographs on everything he’s done, the stores will come around.
For now, Kyle’s busy creating buzz about his self-published stories, even designing
a Bakers t-shirt for die-hard fans (and for the hundreds of thousands of fans he’ll
have after it’s a hit show). His new work, the sarcastically titled Important Literary Journal, will be published shortly. But one has to ask, as a husband and father of three kids, wouldn’t it have been easier to stick to publishing his own work through Marvel and DC? “I found that the winners and losers are determined by decisions they made twenty to thirty years before,” says Kyle. “I’m doing this
because in ten to twenty years I think I’ll look back and say I’m glad I did it.”
(art from From Nat Turner, Volume 2)
Friday, September 22, 2006
BENDING WITHOUT BREAKING: KYLE BAKER
The writer, artist and animator speaks candidly on the state of the comics industry
By Ryan Penagos
Paul Dini and Kyle Baker team up for holiday fun with THE BAKERS MEET JINGLE BELLE.
The story is 100% Paul's, but Lillian brainstormed and sent him some anecdotes, ideas, etc. "What WOULD it be like to fly to the north pole with Jingle?" I asked her. How fun to imagine! Lillian was very concerned about all the other children not getting their Christman toys. She also thought baby Jackie would love the reindeer.
It is going to be a wonderful comic, but I kept thinking: okay, so I am the Jewish mother who inspires her kid to write Christmas gags, then blog about it on Rosh Hashonah. Oy.
p.s. As you read my posts, I want you to imagine the piles of toys and stuff on the floor in THE BAKERS. That part, unforuntely, is real.
From the Dark Horse website:
"When two multi-Eisner-award-winning storytellers bring their funniest creations together, the result is nothing less than pure comics magic. This December, get ready for the wildest winter team-up since Frosty met Rudolph as Kyle Baker's The Bakers meet Paul Dini's Jingle Belle!
As the Baker parents try to frantically finish their holiday preparations, they find themselves in dire need of a baby-sitter. Enter Jingle Belle, fresh from a Christmas Eve defection from her father, Santa, and looking for a place to hide out. Somewhat skeptical of Jingle's heritage, the Baker kids demand proof so she obliges with a whirlwind sleigh ride to the North Pole. Meantime parents Kyle and Liz are dealing with the horrors of last-minute shopping and the now-stranded Santa is mistaken for a prowler as he searches suburbia for both his daughter and his missing sleigh.
Drawn by Kyle Baker from a story by Paul Dini with gags contributed by the entire Baker family, The Bakers Meet Jingle Belle promises to be the must-have comics treat of the 2006 holiday season."
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Carla Speed McNeil and Svetlana Chmakova at the Harvey Awards in Baltimore.
Be sure to check out Carla's awesome FINDER http://www.lightspeedpress.com/index.php?module=Finder&func=pub&issue=38&pag
and amazing Svetlana at http://www.svetlania.com/
Elizabeth Glass, Eleanor Baker (Kyle's mom), Kyle Baker and Cheryl Baker (Kyle's sister) at Harvey Awards (photo by Svetlana Chmakova)
p.s. This is Liz's first time posting!
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Enjoy a new animated episode of The Bakers: HEROINE! Mom fights for women's empowerment! An all-new, unpublished joke, unavailable in any comic! Hooray! VISIT THE KYLE BAKER GIFT SHOP" at http://www.kylebaker.com/www/kbgiftshop/giftshopHOME.html
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Enjoy a new animated episode of The Bakers TASTE Drama at the dinner table! Based on a story from the new full color deluxe hardcover book THE BAKERS: "DO THESE TOYS BELONG SOMEWHERE?" available in comic stores now and in THE KYLE BAKER GIFT SHOP" at http://www.kylebaker.com/www/kbgiftshop/giftshopHOME.html
Monday, July 03, 2006
Enjoy an animated episode of The Bakers now reformatted for Video Ipod as part of our continuing archive upgrade. Download THE SOFATEERS. Awesome battle footage! Based on a story from the new full color deluxe hardcover book THE BAKERS: "DO THESE TOYS BELONG SOMEWHERE?" available in comic stores now and in THE KYLE BAKER GIFT SHOP" at http://www.kylebaker.com/www/kbgiftshop/giftshopHOME.html
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
The Bakers: Discipline
Based on a story from the new full color deluxe hardcover book THE BAKERS: "DO THESE TOYS BELONG SOMEWHERE?" available in comic stores now and in THE KYLE BAKER GIFT SHOP" at http://www.kylebaker.com/www/kbgiftshop/giftshopHOME.html
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Thursday, January 12, 2006
A new animated episode of The Bakers THE MALL Dad takes energetic toddlers to a jewelery store. Carnage and Mayhem ensue.Based on an episode from the new comic "The Bakers #1" available in comic stores now.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Sunday, January 08, 2006
A new animated episode of The Bakers THE DIET The Baker family gets health conscious! Based on a story from the book CARTOONIST VOL.1 available in comic stores now and in THE KYLE BAKER GIFT SHOP" at http://www.kylebaker.com/www/kbgiftshop/cartoonist1.htm.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
This is the Christmas card we sent out this winter to friends and family. My children's grandparents have to put this trash on their mantlepiece. "Why can't he just buy a Snoopy card like everyone else?" I'm sure they ask.