It is not often that a creator will have two simultaneous projects to release at once, so to celebrate Dear Creature and The Green River Killer, Portland artist and Periscope Studio member Jonathan Case pulled out all the stops.
Bridge City Comics took on a decidedly marine aspect, with fish netting and other decorations reflecting the seaside locale of Dear Creature, which was written and illustrated by Case. Included was a mask from an early incarnation of the story as a play, which was performed on the beach. Drinks were provided, including cleverly-labeled bottles of “Kiki Cola,” which are featured in the book. The piece de resistance was the presence of twelve dozen cookies, provided by Case’s wife Sarah and family.
Well-stuffed with sugar, guests were able to purchase Dear Creature and The Green River Killer, as well as a limited-edition print featuring a sonnet by Grue, the Dear Creature himself. Case and his wife stood by their tables rather than sitting behind them, acting the part of party hosts.
Case worked on Dear Creature part-time for four years, finishing in 2009. He worked with his agent to find the right publisher, and the book found its home at Tor Books, where it is one of the company’s first graphic novels.
Asked if there was a point in the writing of Dear Creature when Case regretted having his protagonist speak in iambic pentameter, the author replied in the negative.
“The structure actually forced me to stay efficient in my writing,” he said. “My editor Alex Kamer would tell me when things got out of hand, and I built in the crab characters to poke fun at myself and let off steam.”
Case was recently at a Pacific Northwest Bookseller’s Association tradeshow giving away 80 copies of Dear Creature to retailers and librarians. He was also proud to announce that the book had nearly sold out of its first printing since its release on October 11th.
The Green River Killer: A True Detective Story, a true crime graphic novel written by Jeff Jensen, was intended to be released at the same time as Dear Creature, but Diamond Comic Distributors accidentally sent the book out a month early. It turned out to be more of a happy accident, however.
“It worked out,” said Case, “because then I wasn’t competing against my own book for attention.”
The artist found working with an author “freeing,” especially after handling all the duties on Dear Creature.
“I didn’t have to sweat the details,” he said, adding that working with a deadline also provided him with objectivity about the project.
The book, which details the investigation of a Seattle-area serial killer through the 80s and 90s, is published by Dark Horse Comics.
“They really pulled out the red carpet for me,” he remembered. “It’s great to have a publisher like Dark Horse putting something out with my name on it.”
Dark Horse’s Sierra Hahn was also in attendance to celebrate the release of her first editorial project.
Next up for Case is The Creep, a 5-issue series from Dark Horse with writer John Arcudi. Case is also providing art for short inserts in House of Night, written by P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast, and Kent Dalian. The main artists for the book are Karl Kerschl and fellow Portlander Joëlle Jones.
“I also have my own book which I’m developing now,” Case added. “It’s a combination field guide and narrative.”
“Sarah and I took the same path that the book’s characters do, and I took a lot of reference photos, so that I’m using real backgrounds for all the locations.”
Case is toying with the idea of linking the action in the as-yet-unnamed book with GPS coordinates, so that readers can follow the journey in the physical world.