Jim Valentino is a comic book legend. Valentino’s work for Marvel Comics during the late ‘80s on titles like Guardians of the Galaxy were some of the best works of the era. In 1992, Valentino left Marvel Comics and founded Image Comics. There he opened the window for creator rights in the comics industry and let the world know it was possible to be successful outside of DC and Marvel with creator owned properties. Since then, Valentino has also been instrumental in helping establish the careers of some of the comic industry’s hottest creators, including Robert Kirkman and Brian Michael Bendis. Valentino is currently publishing some of the most groundbreaking titles in comics under his Shadowline imprint through Image Comics.
We caught up with the legendary Jim Valentino at FanExpo 2010 in Toronto to discuss all thing Shadowline, including the re-boot of his flagship character Shadowhawk, the overnight success of the new series Morning Glories, as well as why he won’t be returning to drawing a monthly title any time soon, and why his Silverline Books are some of the most overlooked books on the shelf.
Most recently you re-booted your original Image series, Shadowhawk. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Jim Valentino: Dan Wickline is writing it and Tone Rodriquez is drawing it and Shadowhawk will be a regular ongoing monthly title supposedly. What was supposed to happen in the pages of Image United was that Paul Johnstone comes back to life in a rather unique way, so we’re going to do that in Shadowhawk #5 because I don’t think I don’t think that Image United #5 will surface before that, so screw em’. We’ll do it on our own.
Give us a bit of insight into some of the things that are happening with your Shadowline imprint right now. Morning Glories just came out and already sold out and has went into a second printing, you have Shuddertown wrapping up…
Valentino: Well Shuddertown will be collected into hardcover and then going into a brief hiatus. Morning Glories has gone into a second printing and has already sold out of that so we will be going back into a third printing soon. So far that series is going really well and surpassing all expectations. Cowboy Ninja Viking is continuing and doing well, we also did Fractured Fables with a bunch of really great artists and writers including Terry Moore, Jill Thompson and Peter David. There are so many great things happening at Shadowline right now that it’s almost hard to keep track of it.
You talked about the initial success that Morning Glories has already had and the first issue literally sold out the first day of release. Was there any early indication that the series would just blow up so quickly?
Valentino: Well, we actually held Morning Glories back for almost a year because we wanted to build it up a little bit. In that time we released Existence 2.0, Forgetless and then Shuddertown. Now we felt like Nick Spencer had built up enough steam that it was the right time to release Morning Glories, because we knew how strong of a book it really was. We knew this was a good one, so we felt as though we should build up to it a bit more and now it’s doing great.
Was it important to get the second printing out on the stands so quickly given that Morning Glories sold out the first day of release to ensure you didn’t lose any potential readers?
Valentino: What happened was that we decided to giveaway 100 copies of issue #1 at San Diego, so we didn’t go off of final orders we went off of the initial orders. The final orders were actually 20%-30% over the initial orders and when we finally went to press with the book it had sold out already. We had more orders than we had books printed and we had to go into an immediate second printing. The book sold out literally before it hit the stands and it was the same way with issue #2. That doesn’t happen very often at all. We saw a sales jump on issue #2 and we’re hoping to see a stronger increase on #3.
What do you think is the most underrated book that you’ve put out through Shadowline that you feel might have been overlooked and deserves a second chance from readers?
Valentino: I’d probably say the Silverline, the all-ages children’s books we put out. They were extremely high quality hardcover books aimed at kids and unfortunately they were overlooked. I think people looked at them thinking that the books cost $12 and there is only 30-48 pages, and that would be really expensive if it were a comic book, but it’s a hardcover children’s book. The production value on these things is as good, if not better, than anything out there. Other than that I just think the whole line is great and people should be checking out what we’re doing.
What can we expect next from Jim Valentino? Will we ever see you back penciling a monthly title again?
Valentino: I don’t know. I draw a little bit every now and then when the mood strikes me, but I’m doing too much for Shadowline to keep a monthly schedule, so I don’t want to do that and not have it come out on time. I’d rather do a one-shot here and there, rather than do a monthly book and have it come out every 2 or 3 months. I think the next thing I have coming up is a Normalman story for Dark Horse Presents, of all places. I’m drawing another cover for The Hero Initiative this one is The Avengers and I’m doing a couple of other things I just don’t remember what (Laughs).