Three Birthdays - Sablik, Chamberlain, and Infurnari
This week is the birthday of three people I’m extremely close with. One is someone i’ve worked with before, one is someone I’ve worked with for almost a decade, and the third is someone I’ve only known for a couple of years, but has changed my life completely. I wanted to talk about each of them and what they mean to me.
Filip Sablik filipsablik
I met Filip Sablik when he was a rep at Diamond Comics. He was the guy who all the small publishers talked about because if you had him on your side, your book had a bright future. He wasn’t my original rep (that was the equally awesome Robert Randle), but he was a fan and a huge supporter in my self-publishing days.
Our paths crossed properly when he arrived at Top Cow. We became fast friends, and eventually, when Filip moved up to EIC of the company, he became my editor. He did something that few editors do, and he did it instinctively. He trusted me. When we’d talk story or ideas, he’d think it through, raise his concerns, and then let me go and do what I do. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that ECHOES remains one of my favorite books. A lot of that was from Filip giving Rahsan and I free reign to do a weird book in a peculiar way. Every project I did at Top Cow, Filip had my back and taught me that collaboration can be a very, very good thing.
Sadly, he’s out of the editing game and is instead riding high over at boom studios. They’re immensely lucky to have him.
Kody Chamberlain kodychamberlain
There are few people on earth I like as much as Kody. We come from wildly different backgrounds, have wildly different political views, and disagree about a lot of things. There’s one thing we both believe in. Craftsmanship. We believe that part of the job of being an artist in any medium is taking responsibility for your work, and doing it in a reliable sturdy fashion.
What amazes me no end with Kody is how manages to do that but also imbue everything he does with sheer genius. He’s got ideas pouring out of him, and into his hands. He enhances every project he’s on, from the most mundane work for hire to the insanity of his own work. And, while I love our book together, PUNKS, the one that really knocked me on my ass was SWEETS.
Kody takes the workmanlike attitude in a really peculiar way in Sweets. He trusts that anyone who buys the book is willing to go for the ride. He trusts his own storytelling and craftmanship so much that he lets the audience actively play a part in the storytelling. He never tells you what you just read or pulls together the various threads into a conventional sweater. Instead, he worries about the emotional life of his characters, and lets his deft hand do the rest.
It’s an inspiration beyond words, and something I think about every day with every one of my scripts.
Joe Infurnari joeinfurnari
I met Joe through the comic book equivalent of Kevin Bacon, Dean Haspiel. Dean thought Joe and I could do some cool work together on an anthology that was being put together, and introduced us. It was love at first read. Joe and I exchanged books, and each read them on the way home from Baltimore Comic Con. About ten pages into TIMEFUCKER, I was in love.
The thing about Joe’s work that really pushes my buttons is that he ground everything in reality. Even a book as absurd and over the top as Timefucker has rules that it lives by, and those rules always work. And when they don’t, there’s a damn good reason for them.
He brings that process into our collaboration for THE BUNKER. Joe is singly focused on making the best product there is. He’s fearless that way. He gives me notes that are more well thought out, more full of brilliance, than most any editor I’ve ever worked with.
There’s a bunch of stuff on the internet these days about Writers taking advantage of Artists, and, I have to say, with Joe and I, I’m definitely taking advantage of him. Not only does he provide some of the most insanely inventive art in comics today, but, he’s also helped me through some of my hardest plot walls with grace, dignity, and brilliance. Working with Joe is like a two for one. You get a brilliant artist who’s also a brilliant writer.
In fact, that’s true of all three of these guys. Each of them goes so far above and beyond the simple description of their jobs, that they make everyone around them not just look better, but actually be better.
That’s a better gift than anyone could ask for.
Happy birthday my friends.