Promoting Tilsim

Jason and I arrived in Istanbul last night.  We’re here as guests of Amulet’s Turkish publisher, Tudem. (Tilsim is the Turkish title for Amulet) We’ll be teaching workshops and talking about comics all throughout the week.  Should be fun!  I’ll post pictures when I have them.  In the meantime, you can follow my twitter account for more updates.

Speaking Engagements and Future Plans

I will be speaking at Yale University, at an event called the Master’s Tea, at 4:30 pm in the Jonathan Edwards building on February 24th, 2010.  If you’re a student or faculty member at the school, please drop by and say hello!  Tuesday’s talk at Disney Animation Studios was fun.  Thanks to Dawn Rivera-Ernster for setting that up.  I wish I left more time for the Q and A session, so I’ll be cutting my future presentations shorter in favor of discussions with the audience.  That’s my favorite part.

Final Flight

The next couple of years will mark the end of the Flight series.  We will be wrapping it all up with Flight Volume Eight.  We had a pretty good run, but it is now time for us to focus on producing full graphic novels.  When I started the project, many of us on the book were kids coming out of college with little experience as professional working artists.  Years later, the majority of the artists on the project have gone on to create graphic novels of their own, or are now working at major animation, film, and game studios.  The original book was created to serve a need.  That need was to get our core group published, to have our work be seen, and to get enough practice under our belts to be able to do books of our own.  After 7 years, I feel the original needs were met, and the artists are more than ready to go the distance on their own.

I will, however, continue to produce Flight Explorer, which will be retitled Explorer.  Its purpose, to introduce kids to comics and reading through bite-sized stories, remains unfulfilled, and a book like this is truly essential, especially now that there are so few places kids can find new comics.  With the demise of Disney Adventures and now Nickelodeon Magazine, parents and kids are going to have a difficult time finding premium comics content that is entirely age-appropriate.  We hope we can fill that need.

Flight Volume Seven, however, is shaping up very nicely.  I think we’re going to go out on a couple of high notes with Volumes Seven and Eight.  I’m really excited to share the new books with everyone.

Amulet 3 complete!

Amulet 3

On Thursday night, Jason and I wrapped up the final pages for Amulet 3.  Next week, I’ll be making minor adjustments, and I still have to put together the title and acknowledgements pages.  The real work for the book, 198 pages of awesome color comics, however, is done.

Jason Caffoe has done a fantastic job as the lead production assistant on the book, and the hard work and dedication shows on every page he worked on (which is a lot!).  Jason helped me out with story editing duties on top of having to match my own coloring output, and for that, he gets the Bolt City MVP Award for his work on Amulet 3.  We also got some great help on flatting from Denver Jackson, Michael Regina, Stuart Livingston, Kean Soo, and Ryan Hoffman.  In addition to helping out with the flatting, Anthony Wu, Denver, and Michael provided assistance on the coloring.  In fact, I feel that some of the pages Anthony worked on are among the best in the series.  Thanks a ton, you guys!

Amy helped out again, (of course!) but in addition to that, she managed to finish the final manuscript for her new chapter book, all while taking care of Juni (I handle some of the duties, but it’s a full-time job for the nursing mom).  She’s amazing.  And speaking of Juni, he’s doing great.  He’s grown a LOT over the first two months, and he’s becoming more alert, aware and super adorable every day.  I surely have the best wife and son anyone could possibly ask for.


This weekend, I intend to relax just a bit, before getting to work on the Amulet 4 synopsis and the Amulet 3 front and back matter details.  I also have to spend some time organizing all of the company’s finances and cleaning the house (still haven’t taken down the Christmas tree).

Looking back over the past year, I realize I have reinvested pretty much everything I’ve earned from the Amulet books into the production of the new books, and this investment will hopefully be evident in everything we produce going forward.  Some days the “all or nothing” attitude can be a bit stressful, but having so much faith in the work we’re doing makes me feel rather calm about it, and is making hard decisions and sacrifices a lot easier to make.  I’m very optimistic about how we’re moving forward at Bolt City Productions in 2010, and I can’t wait for the readers to see the results.  Thanks to all our readers for supporting us all this way.  We’re going to continue to do our best to produce the highest quality reading material for years to come, and have a great time doing it!


Lift Off: The Art of Airships



I managed to pull away from the final stretch of Amulet 3 production to do a piece for Lift Off: The Art of Airships at Gallery Nucleus, and it was pretty relaxing.  I’ll have to remind myself to take breaks to do pieces like this more often. Like I mentioned in the previous post, this show features some really talented concept artists, and I’m pretty excited to see the other pieces.  Small and large prints of the image above will be available at the event.  The show will open tomorrow (Saturday) at 7pm.  Join us for the evening to hang out with talented folks, enjoy the refreshments, and you’ll be entered into a contest to win a hot air balloon ride just for attending the show!  See you there!

Copper Interview at Newsarama

Copper interior

Here are some quick news bits, for those of you not following my very informative and entertaining twitter updates.  First up, I did an interview about the new Copper book over at Newsarama.  Thanks to Zack Smith for putting that together.  The image above is a picture from the interior of the hardcover.  I highly recommend getting the hardcover version.  It holds the big square pages together better and it really came out nicely.  The paperback is beautiful, and it has embossed(!) characters on the cover, but the hardcover production is just gorgeous.

Amulet News:  Amulet 3 is nearly complete, with a small handful of pages left to color and about a third of the book left to tweak and adjust.  Should be finished early next week after some crazy long nights of work.  Also, Amulet 2 has been nominated for a Cybil Award.

Gallery News:  I will have work featured in Lift Off: The Art of Airships, a gallery show at Nucleus that will also feature work by my studiomate Khang Le (who’s currently working on the new Bryan Singer and Spielberg films), and concept artists Daniel Dociu, Stephan Martiniere, and Jake Parker.  I’m hoping to find a window of time to produce new work for the show, and I’ll post the image once (or if!) I get it done. The show opens this Saturday at 7pm.  Hope to see some of you there!

Missile Mouse and Copper

Copper and Missile Mouse

Just a reminder that the Copper books are now in bookstores.  Also, be sure to check out my friend Jake Parker’s Missile Mouse graphic novel.  It’s a fantastic all-ages comic (the first of a series), and I still can’t believe he’s able to produce these books while working full-time at Blue Sky and raising four kids!  The man is a work machine.  And he produces some super fun and beautiful comics.

We’re currently working around the clock on Amulet 3, which is due in a couple of weeks.  It’s going to be tight, and it’s been difficult while also taking care of Juni, but we should get it done.  Back to the Cintiq…



First off, let me plug The Art of Avatar event being held at Gallery Nucleus on January 23rd.  Artists James Clyne, Steve Messing, Daphne Yap, Jordu Schell, and Dylan Cole will be there to talk about the making of the film. I’ll be sure to post about it again as the day approaches.  Secondly, I’ll share my short review for the film.  I would, however, need a second viewing to write a proper one, so this is simply my initial reaction.

On Sunday night, Amy and I were able to take a break from Juni (grandma took over for a few hours) to watch Avatar.  We had attended the special “Avatar Day” screening of the 16-minute preview two months prior and we left unimpressed with the 3D and effects, but interested in the story.  It was a good reminder of how strong Cameron’s storytelling instincts have been in the past.  We recently watched Terminator 2, which is pretty much a perfect film.  Very few filmmakers in Hollywood know how to carry a story’s momentum the way Cameron does. Here’s a good essay on using suspense in films, citing Aliens as an example.

So, after creating a string of critically-acclaimed and financially successful films, why should anyone doubt him, right?  Perhaps it was because he was getting old, and he had been away from mainstream action pictures for so long while spending millions traversing the ocean bottom in a submarine, or reviewing and collecting the live-action adaptation film rights to popular manga and anime titles, that we believed the man may have lost his edge.  It’s more likely the fact that he planned on making a 3D motion-capture film about a silly-looking race of 10 foot-tall alien creatures and make it the most expensive film ever made that had people shaking their heads.  Whatever the reason, Avatar was clouded in doubt, and the man at the helm seemed comfortable with the familiar role of being in the eye of the storm.

Now, perhaps finally, very few people will doubt Cameron’s abilities as a director and visionary, since Avatar is truly a landmark film.  Incredibly, it lives up to the seemingly insurmountable hype thanks mostly to the effects work.  Despite the negative criticisms made about the writing of the film, however, I found it to be a very well-told story.  Outside of a few story issues with the final act (which can easily be remedied in a sequel, and is likely the plan), I’d say it was a perfect moviegoing experience.  I’d like to emphasize the word “experience” because that is what Avatar is built to serve: the moviegoing experience.

A good script is one that serves the director to build the film he sees in his head.  A screenplay is simply a blueprint for the architects of the production.  By this definition, Avatar is a very well-written film, with a script that serves its masters exceedingly well.  The characters are clearly defined and their words never betray them. The events transpire in a way that keeps the audience wanting more.  Everything in the film is working together to keep the illusion alive.  One may disagree with Cameron’s philosophies or subtext, but it would be a mistake to say that the words and events are empty shells, because he loads the text with his simple poetry, not unlike Hemingway or Cormac McCarthy.  Even the mechanical suits serve as symbols, helping to define the antagonists the way the avatars define the heroes.  This film was brimming over with more ideas than I expected, and what was most unexpected of all was the strongest emotion the film elicited, and that was a feeling of joy. Compounded upon that was the feeling that the joy you’re experiencing will likely fade away, so be sure to enjoy it and savor it while you can.  For a film that carries a heavy-handed ecological message in its broadest strokes, it sure is a marvelously subtle and effective approach to implanting the passion behind natural conservation in the viewer’s subconscious (much of this is likely inspired by Cameron’s expeditions into the deep).  And luckily for the producers, this serves a secondary function that will pay dividends: it makes me want to revisit that joy, much the same way teenage girls yearned to revisit Titanic.  James Cameron proves once again that he is second to none when it comes to building a spectacular moviegoing experience.  And we’re all incredibly lucky to have someone among us who is willing to go such great distances to make it happen.


Copper In Stores!

Copper in stores!

My friend Denver Jackson and Jason‘s mom (a book buyer at an independent bookstore in Plymouth, MN) report that Copper and Missile Mouse are now being shelved in stores.  Be sure to check with your local bookstore or comic retailer.  The Copper, Amulet, and Missile Mouse books should be in the children’s section of the bookstores.

Copper Books and Amulet 3

Copper Books

I’ve been away from the computer the past few weeks to focus on inking pages and taking care of Juni (who is doing great!), so it’s time to catch up on my blogging.  First off, if you want more detailed and frequent updates, please follow my twitter account.  It allows me to post updates during my short breaks without pulling time away from work, so it’s very convenient.  I’ll incorporate a twitter update box on the front page as soon as Amulet 3 is complete.

The Copper books arrived in the mail just around the time Juni was born, so it was pretty much one of the best weeks ever. Not only did we see the arrival of our beautiful baby boy, but we have a nice new book to add to the library.  The Copper books look absolutely fantastic, and it probably has the nicest production values of any book I’ve worked on.  Phil Falco, David Saylor, and Sheila Keenan at Scholastic did a great job on this, and I can’t wait to see how people like the final product.  It will be available in January through Scholastic Graphix, alongside Raina Telgemeier’s wonderful graphic novel Smile, and the first volume of Jake Parker’s super fun Missile Mouse.

The Copper book has also received its first award!  It was named as a Junior Library Guild Selection for Fall 2009, along with Jeff Smith and Charles Vess’s Rose.

Amulet 3 inked

The image above is what I have been working on since Juni arrived.  Amulet 3 is pretty much entirely inked, with maybe about 2-3 pages to redraw today after dialogue edits.  I’m really excited to be joining Jason and Anthony on the colors tomorrow.  Here we go onto the final stretch!

In other news, Booklist asks kids what books they are most eager for, and Amulet 3 shows up amongst pretty good company!  Also, Paste Magazine has named Flight Volume 1 to their list of best graphic novels of the decade, at number five!

Welcome Juni!


Our son Juni Kim Kibuishi was born on November 3rd, 2009, at 1:06 pm.  Despite Amy’s early labor being fairly smooth, the delivery ended up being a very difficult ordeal. The culprit was a prolapsed umbilical cord, and it was looking very much at times like we were about to lose our baby boy.  At the hospital, our obstretrician decided to move Amy out of the delivery room and into the operating room to prepare for an emergency C-section, but she also wanted to give Amy one more chance to push him out, since he was so close.

The tension in the operating room was thick, with nurses and doctors scrambling to prepare for the surgery while Amy was screaming in pain.  She had been on an epidural but was taken off of it during her transfer to the operating room, so she could now feel the pain of her contractions.  They put her back on the medication to prepare her for surgery, but there was a window of time where she could feel everything, and during her pushing, she said she felt like fainting.  The heartrate monitor was ominous, with Juni’s heartrate alternating between very high and dangerously low, and it felt like a ticking clock. The moment felt like a surreal nightmare, and I was mentally preparing myself for the worst. The only thing I knew to do was to talk to Amy and encourage her to push.  I tried to drown out the sound of the erratic heartrate with words of encouragement, and the nurses were doing the same.  One nurse yelled “push like you’re mad!!” and that seemed to be the best advice given in that room, because after that, Amy looked determined. She went from crying sad to screaming mad, and I could tell she wasn’t going to let Juni go out like this.

When I heard Juni crying, it was the greatest sense of relief I have ever experienced in my life.  For a few moments I thought I was about to lose the two people I cared about more than anything in the world, but thankfully Amy and our doctor were able to get Juni out quickly before things got any worse.  I cut the umbilical cord with a disdain for it, since it was the source of so much trouble.  Not only did it come out before Juni, but it was also very thin.  Along with a poor placenta, it provided Juni with less nourishment.  He arrived in the world at only 4 pounds, 13.8 ounces, but he is healthy, despite having to deal with such bad roommates.

We have to thank Dr. Toni Morrissey and the staff at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena for the amazing job they did under extreme pressure.  The next day, we could hear nurses in the halls talking about the high drama delivery with some excitement.  What looked like a routine birth ended up feeling like an episode of ER. Next time, we could all do without the tension, and we hope our baby #2 has much better travel arrangements.


Despite his difficult journey into the world, Juni seems to be doing well. He has to deal with getting jaundice out of his system, but we expected this considering he is mostly Asian, and it tends to run in the family.  Tim (my brother-in-law) and Sunni (my mother-in-law) have been an excellent source of support for us, as we work to try to get used to the early parenting days.  When I close my eyes now, all I see is Juni’s face, and I am so happy to see him when I open them too.  I’m surprised how quickly being a parent starts to feel natural, because the first couple of days I felt a bit of shock and confusion, wondering how I was going to deal with everything ahead of me (the lack of sleep, the parenting duties).  But once I’ve spent time with Juni, I realized that I would do anything to make sure he’s okay.  That natural instinct is making the hard stuff a lot easier.  Looking forward to seeing this little guy grow up!