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Publishers Weekly (US)
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July 14, 2008

PW Comics Week

Image Comics and Tori Amos Ink Comic Book Tattoo

By Trevor Soponis

In an ambitious effort to continue their success marrying the worlds of comics and music, Image has teamed up with popular singer-songwriter Tori Amos to publish Comic Book Tattoo. The 480-page, full-color book will be released in three versions: hardcover, paperback and a signed, numbered limited edition, at the end of this month.

Conceived by editor and long-time Amos friend Rantz Hoseley, the book has a simple premise: comic artists adapt the concepts behind Amos's songs into graphic vignettes. The final product, in an oversized 12"x12" format, contains 50 stories by more than 80 creators.

"Rantz turned me on to comics," Amos explained in an interview with PWCW, singling out Neil Gaiman's Sandman: The Doll's House as the first comic she ever read. "That's what is so perfect about all this. The person who turned me on to comics is the person who edited the first, and probably only, comic anthology inspired by my songs."

Although she was originally unclear about exactly what the project would entail, Amos became convinced of the possibilities. "What I was extremely clear about was that the comic artists weren't being asked to do visual cover versions of the songs. It wasn't their job to try and figure out what the song is about, it was their job to use the song as a jumping-off point," Amos explained.

Hoseley, knowing the depths of admiration among Amos's fans, felt a bit of pressure about the project. "I was hyper-aware of not wanting to let Tori down in terms of the end result," said Hoseley. "It was a big leap of faith on her part, doing this book, and with her committing so fully to it, I wanted to make sure that the book was something that she would be proud of, and be pleased to have as part of her catalogue of official releases and projects."

While existing Amos fans -- who tend to be incredibly devoted to the singer -- are the natural audience, Hoseley believes the book will appeal to a multitude of others. "One thing that Tori and I agreed on in the initial discussions was that we wanted the book to appeal to fans of comics, and for art and design fans in general, regardless of whether they were fans of hers," said Hoseley.

While this crossover of comics and music is unusual, it's not the first time Image has creatively explored the connection. The 2006 Belle and Sebastian-inspired anthology Put the Book Back on the Shelf was followed a year later by Popgun Volume 1, described as a "graphic mixtape" (Volume 2 is forthcoming).

This willingness to experiment can be credited to the creator-owned and -operated ethos that Image was founded upon back in 1992. However, the recent success of non-superhero titles has been nothing less than shocking. Image's pr and marketing coordinator Joe Keatinge who edited the anthology Popgun Volume 1 said, "If you told me five years ago that we would be selling out music books and that our bestselling title would be an original zombie story [Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead], I'd think you were crazy."

When asked if comics are a logical extension to her work, Amos pointed out the long-running relationship between her and comics luminary Neil Gaiman, who penned the introduction to the book. "It depends if you're aware of the fact that [the character] Delirium from the Sandman series stole a bit from me, and I stole a bit from her," said Amos.

Looking at the finished product, both Hoseley and Amos are more than content. "When I read the whole thing in order for the first time, I couldn't stop myself," Amos said. "It was almost as if I became an addict for it. What surprised me is that there are so many different styles represented here, and each one is unique unto itself. There isn't one story that reminds me of another. With so many people involved, that is highly unusual."


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