Do you guys know Michel Gagné? If you don’t, you should. He’s a crazy talented artist who has animated special effects for Iron Giant, Ratatouille and Star Wars: Clone Wars. He’s been self-publishing his own comics and illustrated books for the past 15 years. He’s done a live performance combining his abstract animation with improvisational jazz. He turned his Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet idea into a video game available on Xbox Live Arcade. Even better than all that, he’s a really nice guy.
I first met Michel and his also-delightful wife Nancy when we did a store signing together about a decade ago and I’ve been lucky enough to hang out with them several times over the years. One of Michel’s self-publishing endeavours has been a comic called ZED: A Cosmic Tale. He accurately describes the series by saying, “a lot of people might be shocked when they read ZED. What appears to be a little children’s tale (based on the art and writing style) is in fact an edgy dark sci fi comedy adventure.”
I liked Zed so much I drew a pin-up for it, featuring the title character rocking out with his friends from the intergalactic metal band KRAH! That led to us exploring the idea of me writing and drawing a spin-off comic called The Krah Khronicles. The project never got off the ground but I did have fun roughing out the plot for a three-issue space adventure / rock battle. And I drew a couple sample pages and a cover mock-up that I figured I’d share with you all. So here’s a little time capsule from 2005:
The four core members of Krah were designed by Michel, as they appeared in the Zed comic. But it was up to me to design everything else. It was an interesting experiment, designing new characters that would fit the aesthetic of Michel’s world but still have my own flavour.
This seemed like an appropriate time to shed light on this stuff since Image Comics just published a collection of Michel’s entire 10-issue run of ZED. It’s cool to see Michel get this new edition out there and in front of people’s eyeballs. If my opinion isn’t good enough, you should consider that Pixar director Brad Bird wrote an introduction for the new book.
Right now Michel is busy animating a film adaptation of The Saga of Rex, a whimsical comic about a fox’s outerworldly journey, which he originally serialized in the popular Flight anthologies. He successfully crowdsourced the funds to work on the first four minutes of the film and one of the Kickstarter rewards was access to a secret production blog he’ll be updating throughout the process (late-comers can still gain access for a $20 subscription). As always, Michel impresses me with his creativity and his dedication to developing his own kick-ass projects.