We caught up with Charles Kochman, Executive Editor of Abrams ComicArts, who told us about the company’s Spring line.

Tell us about the ComicArts Spring releases.
Good Riddance is by Cindy Copeland; it's a graphic novel about divorce.  It's different than the market that we’ve hit and graphic novels that we've done, but it's a staggering statistic that pretty much one out of every two marriages fail in the United States.  This is about this woman who found out through her husband's computer that he was having an affair and how she kicks him out of the house and rebuilds her life.  The colors are by Frank M. Young and he really did nice job with it.  It's got a nice palette.

Legends of the Blues is by Bill Stout with an introduction by Jimmy Page.

's a good fit—we just listened to Led Zeppelin II again and the blues are definitely in there.
They are.  The book is in the same format as we did R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country.  You get a little bio of the artist and then staggering portraits by Bill Stout.  He tries to find the essence of everybody with his portraits which are really wonderful.  Crumb gave his blessing on the book.  I was worried, and told Bill I didn't want to do the book if I was going to piss off Crumb.  He checked with Crumb and Crumb loved the art and can't wait to see the book.

Stout is setting up a traveling exhibition and we're trying to figure out whether the book will have a CD of blues music that we'll work with Shout Factory on (because he’s done a lot of work for Shout Factory), or it will have trading cards.

What the Frack?  Lies, Hoaxes and Scams is by Darryl Cunningham.  He did a book called Psychiatric Tales in England.  This is a book where he wanted to tackle bigger issues about climate change, evolution, fracking.  What he does is provide, through pictures, the scientific evidence.  He doesn't give you, "This is what’s true; this is what’s not," he gives you both sides.  You make up your own mind, but he gives you the concrete, verifiable information and in the back will be all the footnotes supporting it.  Like, "Was the moon landing a hoax?  This is what the dissenters say; this is what we know for a fact; it seems like it wasn't actually a hoax.  Here's where the people who think it was a hoax may have misconstrued."  There's a bit about the flag and why it looks like it's moving when there's no oxygen and he gives you scientific reasons for it.  He was a keynote speaker at the graphic novel medicine conference; he's really smart.  He's got a great blog. Scott McCloud loved him and gave a wonderful quote for the book.

[Bazooka Joe] is a book that I found in Angouleme when I was there.

Was it in French?
No, it was originally in English; it just came out from Myriad books in England.  Bazooka Joe will be in the same format as Topps that I'm doing for Mars Attacks, Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids.  Next year will be the 60th anniversary of Bazooka Joe and the 75th anniversary of Topps.

It will have four bonus comic strips in it.  What I love about this book (and it's true of all of Abrams' books), is that the content determines the format, so we're going to turn the book on its side and we're going to stain the sides pink so that they look like a giant piece of bubblegum.  We have original art, showing the strips side by side; lots of foreign strips; classic strips; and some advertising.

The other thing I'm really excited about for this book is the background on Wesley Morse, who created the material.  He did the poster for the Copacabana, he did the Cotton Club art, he did the Folies Bergere posters, and is also famous for doing the Tijuana Bibles.  We'll include (obviously some of the tamer) Tijuana Bible stuff.  It's a crossover title; kids are going to read it.

We talk about the secret of Bazooka Joe's eye patch-- there was a Hathaway shirt ad at the time and it was the height of fashion and it made him look debonair.  So Wesley thought, "Let's give him an eye patch."  He's got a photograph of his son (who's contributing an intro to the book) with a baseball cap when he was a kid.  We'll have those photographs in the book and show the history.  Jay Lynch is writing a piece for it; Bhob Stewart, who did a piece for Blab a long time ago that was the history of the strip, has revised and expanded that and we’re going to reprint it.  I'm really excited about the Bazooka Joe book.

Salem Hyde is a Frank Cammuso book--it's a kids series with magic.  Cammuso does Knights of the Lunch Table.

Dave McKean's Caligaro, which we had announced before, will now be out in the spring.  Dave's had a couple of other projects that he was working on.  This is a reimagining of the movie The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.  Really wonderful art; incredible storytelling; and this has been a book that he's really close to.

The other special announcement is that when I came to Abrams there was a triumvirate of books that I wanted to do: Kirby and Kurtzman were the beginning of it, and I wanted to round it out with Eisner.  We're doing The Art of Will Eisner book.  I felt like we should do Kirby for the superheroes; Kurtzman for the humor and war comics and all the stuff he did; and Eisner for the graphic novel.  And that was what I identified as the triumvirate of people that needed the Abrams treatment (we first published Rockwell and Avedon); those guys were the core.

It took a while to figure out the details, but it will be written by Paul Levitz, so I'm really excited about that.

He did such a fantastic job on the DC book.
That was amazing.  He was the only person that could have written that.   There are a lot of people who could have possibly written the Eisner book, but Paul published him, he knew him.  Denis [Kitchen] obviously could have written it, but I think Paul brings a nice perspective to it.

Paul brings a little more distance to it; Denis was so close.
That’s what Denis felt.  Denis felt if we couldn’t find a good writer, he would certainly do it, but he was encouraging us to find someone who could really bring something to it.   We're excited about Paul doing it.

--Interview by Milton Griepp