David Lapham Talks Bringing His Creator Owned ‘Stray Bullets’ To Image Comics
Cited by many readers and comic professionals alike as an under appreciated classic, David Lapham‘s work on his creator owned crime series Stray Bullets has always received high praise. As such, it came as a bit of a blow to the series’ followers, and Lapham himself, when he revealed six years ago that the book was going on an indefinite hiatus. Lapham, who first launched the title in 1995 and published it himself, along with Maria Lapham, under his El Capitan label, announced at the time that he’d be focusing mostly on work for hire projects for the foreseeable future.
But, following the release of a teaser from Image Comics yesterday, it has now been revealed that Stray Bullets will continue with new content beginning in March, with Lapham taking the title over to the publisher. On March 12, Image will simultaneously release Stray Bullets #41, Stray Bullets: The Über Alles Edition — which will collect issues 1-41 — and Stray Bullets: Killers #1, the first issue of a new story arc. Further, digital versions of every previous issue of the series are available now via Image Comics’ website and Comixology, with the first four issues being free.
Lapham joined a conference call with members of the press to discuss the announcement, in which he stated that ever since Stray Bullets stopped, he’s “been trying to figure out a way to do it again.”
The material coming next year represents Lapham’s first new work in the Stray Bullets universe since a short story in a Dark Horse Anthology in 2009, and the first full issue since #40 in 2005. Issue #41 will complete that storyline, previously left unfinished for eight years.
Lapham addressed members of the press, answering a few questions about the new project and his relationship with Image.
On returning to Stray Bullets after nearly a 10 year absence:
“Ever since we stopped doing Stray Bullets, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to do it again. It’s home. It was just a matter of other priorities preventing the 100% commitment we had to the book for so many years. It was so great to work on superhero characters that I grew up with, and a lot of other projects, but Stray Bullets has always been home to me and I couldn’t wait to get back to it.”
On re-familiarizing himself with such a large cast of characters:
“I’ve always had ideas that I thought would work really well in Stray Bullets and I couldn’t wait to get back to doing it. Once we were on, I went back and read everything I did before, and then it was like getting back into that mindset. It’s a little bit different than all the other work I’d done, not the least of which is coming back and working with Maria. So much of this came out of our life and our experiences and our collaboration, so it was really more of that process. Us talking about it and talking about what directions we were going to go it, and it came back really quickly. That’s sort of what makes it so exciting, getting back to that place.”
On choosing to take Stray Bullets to Image:
“Over the years since we’ve stopped, we’ve had a lot of great offers from lots of companies to do Stray Bullets but it never clicked with us that it was the right way to come back. Image was the first company that got our vision. They wanted us to bring the El Capitan production to them every month. Other than having the Image logo on the cover, it’s the same 32 pages of what we want to bring to readers. That was the key that made us think we could do it like we did before.
Image was founded by artists that wanted to take control of their work, so I think that it was just built into their mission statement. From our perspective, going from self-publishing to this, other than having the Image team behind us, we are able to do the same thing we’ve always done. We’re able to give readers the same book, the same story, the same editorial that we want to give. That made it a no-brainer.”
On bringing new characters to the series:
“There’ll be some characters from the original series as well as new characters. One of the elements of Stray Bullets was each issue being a complete story, so I was always able to invent whatever characters I needed to tell a story. Almost any kind of story I wanted to dream up, I could just do in the best way I thought. If that meant it related to the characters I’d created before, great, but if it required a new character, then I could do that too. I never felt like anything always had to happen to this one person; everything evolved organically. I always found ways to bring the whole thing along.”
On making the relaunch accessible to new readers:
“I designed Stray Bullets for the kind of reader that I am. I don’t go into comic book shops regularly, so when I go in, I don’t want to pick up stuff that I’m going to be confused by when I’m reading. If I get stuck with my life and come back to something three months later, I want to come back to a series and just pick up the story. One of the elements about Stray Bullets is that every issue is new-reader friendly. When you start getting up into 30, 40 issues, people see the number and feel alienated, like they have to go back and read the previous stuff. I think people could jump in on Killers #4, but seeing the #1 makes it easy for new readers to jump in.”