I'm told that Femme Noir: The Dark City Diaries #4 should be on sale in the next few weeks, just in time for the holidays. The issue features the usual dual covers – a lovely, pulp magazine-ish illustration by Joe Staton & Alfredo Lopez and a magnificent alternate cover penciled by the late Mike Wieringo, inked by Joe, and colored by Garry Henderson. There's also a short text feature in this issue by yours truly, revealing a bit of the history of the character and project. I'll let you know when to look for it as soon as I get the shipping info.
This week, I wrote a short – very short – Femme Noir story for 2009's Free Comic Book Day Cartoon-a-palooza special from Ape Entertainment. As usual, Joe Staton is laying down the graphite, and inker Mark Stegbauer will be slapping on the India ink. Michael Watkins – who colored Issue #4 of the miniseries – will be providing the hues. It's called "Demon Bat," and will be the first of several Femme Noir projects planned to appear next year.
I'm currently scripting a 48-page "annual," subtitled "Supernatural Crime," co-starring the skull-visaged vigilante known as Brother Grim (last seen in Issue #1 of the mini) – and featuring an all-new origin story for the character. Why a new origin? Don't ask. It's too sordid a saga, and it just pisses me off. But the plan is to have the one-shot special out in the second half of the year.
We're also planning to release a trade paperback collection of the original Femme Noir webcomics, re-colored and "remastered." I'm hoping Joe will have enough time to draw a fourth story for the collection – the script is pretty much written and it'll round out the volume nicely. In any case, it'll definitely include the three online classics: "Cold, Dead Fingers," "An Eye For A Spy," and "Chambers of Horror." More info on this as it comes together.
And, of course, there will be a trade paperback collection of the Femme Noir: The Dark City Diaries miniseries, which will include all four stories from the comic books, as well as the 2008 FCBD Cartoon-a-palooza story, "A Night In The Life," and the 8-page bonus tale, "The Dingus." There will also be character design sketches by Joe, a special foreword and afterword by a couple of renowned crime fiction personalities, and a surprise or two. You'll also get to see all the original cover art, this time unobscured by logos and text.
With #4 still to hit the shelves, I suppose I could play it cagey, and say "oh, there's no plans as yet for a trade, so you better go out and buy the individual issues," but does anyone believe that anymore? Besides, Ape published only enough copies of the miniseries to meet the initial retailer orders – and there will not be any additional printings. I know a lot of people couldn't find copies of the first three issues at their local stores, and #4's orders were – as is typical with a miniseries – lower than the others, so it may be hard to find, too. I also know that in today's market, a lot of readers habitually "wait for the trade." Hell, I'm one of them.
So, a trade paperback collection was/is inevitable. Aside from making the material available in a more durable format, it can also (hopefully) get into regular bookstores and maybe reach a wider audience. I don't want anyone to feel cheated or that they now "have" to buy the material twice, but the graphic novel/trade paperback format is becoming the format of choice among consumers, and we have to play along. Now, I wanted the stories to come out as "floppies" (I detest that term, but it's slightly better than "pamphlets") first because, dammit, after all that work, I wanted a Femme Noir comic book to hold in my hands and see displayed on the comic shop shelves! But I also want the property to have a life beyond those 4 issues, and having a trade paperback available and in print is a necessity.
Beyond those projects, I have tentative plans for a second miniseries, probably for the Summer of 2010 – if I can keep all the balls in the air – and make it worthwhile for my valued collaborators, Joe foremost among them. A lot will depend on how well-received the projects mentioned above are. I hope things work out, because I still have a lot of Femme Noir tales to tell...