Hermes Press is best known for reprinting essential comic strips and producing high quality History of Comics and Illustrators books. The publisher has recently started to release new comics like Tails and Sparrow and Crowe, and got the Howard Chaykin to do an all new Buck Rogers mini series. CBNAH caught up with Alissa Fisher, Graphic Designer of Hermes Press to discuss the history of the company, Howard Chaykin’s all new Buck Rogers, and much more.
CBNAH: For people who are unfamiliar with Hermes Press, can you give us a brief history of the company?
AF: Hermes Press is a specialized publishing company founded by our Publisher, Daniel Herman, in 2000. Dan is an avid comic art collector, of all genres and his love of comics lead to the idea of starting a publishing company in order to preserve the classic material. The first book he self produced was Gil
Kane: The Art of Comics in 2001 and following that he produced Star Hawks, and here we are today! Troy and I jumped on board about 3-4 years ago and since then we've increased our production schedule and taken on most of the work.
CBNAH: Can you tell us a bit about Howard Chaykin's all new Buck Rogers?
AF: Howard Chaykin's Buck Rogers is a revival series comprised of four issues with a slightly different take than the original, classic Buck Rogers series — a little more provocative through the language and plot. This time around, a second civil war broke out in America that was pelaged with environmental
disaster and widespread tyranny that engulfed Europe, Asia and South America. Buck awakens to the futuristic world, five centuries later, of a barely populated America that is under siege by China.
CBNAH: What are some recent and upcoming releases of the History of Comics line?
AF: Right now, we don't have any new releases under the History of Comics line, but had intentions of doing a Funnies in the Comics. I can say if we publish it, it won't be for a long time though because of our current production schedule.
CBNAH: Any new information for a release date of Smokey Stover and Spooky the Cat: The Collected Sundays?
AF: Smokey Stover has been postponed for some time now. We have intentions of finishing the book, it's just hard to say when due to some technicalities surrounding interest in the title — the same goes for I Spy. It's very unfortunate though, because I receive numerous emails regarding interest in both titles. Reprinting classic comic strips has a very limited audience which makes publishing a title a little frustrating at times because it needs to be financially viable for us, as a company, to reprint.
CBNAH: Outside of the Pre-Code comics and the first volume of the newspaper strip, are there plans to release more volumes of Brenda Starr, Reporter?
AF: No, sadly, we are not coming out with another Brenda Starr collection, at least not any time soon.
CBNAH: Can you tell us about Tails and Sparrow and Crowe?
AF: Tails originated as a web comic created by Ethan Young. In 2011, Ethan self-published the collection of strips from his website and sent us a copy to look over and ultimately publish. We were immediately drawn to his graphic inking and over all style of the layout and agreed to publish Ethan's work.
Tails Book 1 is a semi-autobiographical graphic novel written and illustrated by Ethan Young, that tells the tale of Ethan, a quirky, hipster cartoonist trying to make it in New York City, working at an animal shelter. When the going gets tough, Ethan's side creation, Crusader Cat, begins to interact with him in
effort to help Ethan escape the heartache and stress of his everyday life. Ethan created a character that is easily identifiable with that evokes sympathy and hope for him to catch a break.
Ethan's story does have it's funny moments when he gets revenge, of specific characters, in his day dreams. It's a very enjoyable read with fantastic art work. I did an interview with Ethan last year you should check out — it's on our Tumblr account: hermespress.tumblr.com
Sparrow and Crowe originated from creators David Accampo and Jeremy Roger's award winning, full cast audio drama, podcast series called Wormwood, it ran for three seasons consisting of 97 episodes(available on iTunes and wormwoodshow.com). Wormwood is a series about a former psychologist, Dr.
Xander Crowe, who had a terrible tragedy that sent him spiraling down a dark pathway. After having a strange vision, Doctor Crowe is lead to the hidden town of Wormwood, where shadows are lurking in every corner and evil stains the souls of every inhabitant.
Jared Souza, the comics' artist, got the job after submitting his fan art, which was concept art for a comic that followed the podcast series. From there, the idea of producing a comic that was a spin off of the Wormwood shows came to fruition.
We met the Sparrow and Crowe crew at the San Diego Comic Con in 2012 at an open portfolio review we held at our booth — they pitched their idea and gave us a sample of their comic and the rest is history!
Sparrow and Crowe is a five part mini series with Issue 4 coming out in November exclusively on Comixology. Here is what's a little sneak peak about what's going on:
The Sparrow and Crowe saga continues in Issue 4 with Amanda Marino, daughter of a Los Angeles mob boss, unwittingly conjured forth an evil spirit, which took possession of her body. Now, under the gun of Don Marino and armed with the Ring of Solomon, Doctor Xander Crowe enacts a harrowing ritual to confront his old enemy, the demon Adramelech, and expunge the spirit from Amanda’s wrecked body. That is, of course, unless the devil has another trick up his sleeve… or maybe even more than one...
If you check out Issue 1 and 2 of Sparrow and Crowe, you'll see a few original pages Jared submitted at the end we put in as extra art. I definitely suggest checking out the Wormwood podcast too! Sparrow and Crowe Issues 1-3 are available at Comixology.com
CBNAH: Is there any title that you would recommend for somebody who isn't familiar Hermes Press?
AF: Hmm... let's see. If you are a horror fan, since Halloween is around the corner, I'd suggest Sparrow and Crowe Issues 1-3 and the Sparrow and Crowe Halloween Special, which is great because it has a variety of artists and writers putting their own spooky twist on Sparrow and Crowe — definitely a great
piece to pick up! Also, the Famous Monsters of Filmland's Fear Book Volume 1 when the title is released in late October/November. If classics are more up your ally, try Johnny Hazard Volumes 1 and 2, and The Phantom Dailies have some good old fashioned humor, as well as, being one of the first super hero comic series. If any of the readers have kids, Scratch9 is fantastic! It's a comic about a cat who, through the work of a mad scientist, is able to summon his nine lives! Scratch9 Cat Tails #1 is a collection of stories based on the nine lives of Scratch — each story has it's own theme ranging from Bektah, the mummy cat of Egypt, the French feline, D'Argent, to a futuristic breed of superior cats lead by IX. It's a really cute, fun read. Cat Tails #2 is coming out soon, so if you liked Cat Tails #1, you'll love the second edition!
CBNAH: Are there any difficulties of transferring old comic strips or comic books into the digital format?
AF: Transferring old strips to a digital format is rather easy, however, editing them for the book can be the difficult part. I'll use The Phantom as an example — when we reproduce the dailies, although they are black and white images, after being scanned into the computer, the color scheme is in gray scale. To
get the final black and white strips found in our books, we have to clean out the gray matter out from the negative space and select the black channel to bump up the curve to make the inked lines black again. This sounds simple enough, which it can be, but we have to make sure the original art is unaltered in the process. The same applies to the colored strips, which are more tedious in editing. In some instances, we have to partially redraw images due to torn pages, lack of material, and most of all, poor printing quality. Over all, the better the material the less we have to edit. More times than not, since this material is very old, it is difficult to find in good condition. We do have several contacts and
collectors that provide us with fantastic material for The Phantom Dailies and Sundays and Buck Rogers series, and we thank them tremendously!
CBNAH: What does the future hold for Hermes Press?
AF: We are expanding our collection of books and starting to collaborate with Famous Monsters to reprint their annual editions, so we can only go up from here! I'm currently working on The Psychedelic Rock Art of Carl Lundgren, a well-known Detroit, Michigan based artist, who is known for his psychedelic rock posters as well as illustrating covers to novels for publishing companies such as
Image and Dark Horse, and is still active as an artist today. We hope to get more projects like this in the future — it's been really fun working on this type of book. Next years schedule should be equally exciting, as we are close to announcing an all new comic title!
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