Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Comic book trio turns work into novel

Cover of the Graphic Novel
This is the story that goes with the video I shared yesterday. It was a fun time talking with the three of these guys. The story was "first" published in the April 4, 2012 issue of The News-Herald Newspapers.

Gin-Ryu, or Silver Dragon as it translates from Japanese to English, first was released in comic book form in a limited five-issue run in 1994. Now, nearly 20 years later, the story is coming back to life as an omnibus edition graphic novel being released Saturday.

Big Ben's Comix Oasis, 6711 Allen Road in Allen Park, is throwing the release party. Stephen Egged, the book’s author, will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., along with inker Frank Parr and Internet marketer Arthur Yoell. All three are Downriver residents. Egged and Parr both live in Taylor; Yoell is from Wyandotte.

The book follows the story of a samurai sword from ancient Japan that finds its way to Detroit in the mid 1990s.

Frank Parr (left), Stephen Egged and Arthur Yoell display copies
 of their comic, "Gin-Ryu."
The first two issues of the original comic were published in color, but for the release of the graphic novel, the art was redone by Parr and Wes Simpson who had not worked on the original two issues. The entire graphic novel is in black and white.

"I wanted the continuity with the art and the design," Egged said.

The protagonist is a martial artist named Mr. Caval who happens upon the sword and decides that he must cleanse the streets of Detroit from those who are a menace to society.

The art in the book is astounding for the most part, with the meticulous attention to detail. Posters of former Detroit Lions’ star Barry Sanders, the spirit of Detroit, Hart Plaza and the Renaissance Center are all peppered throughout to give a local flair to the story.

The book is set mostly in Detroit, with a few scenes late in the book taking place in Highland Park.

Don't let the fact that it's a comic book fool you, though, the story and art are strictly for the over-18 crowd. There are graphic bloody murders, and mostly adult language fills the book.

As the story advances, the stakes continue to get higher and the supernatural starts to get involved as the book culminates in a massive action scene on the People Mover as it runs through Detroit. Caval fights off an entire gang of super-powered “baddies,” comic book slang for bad guys, before being forced to tackle the “big bad.”

The upper left panel took over 16 hours
 to draw and ink due to the immense
 amount of detail included in the
 brickwork of the buildings.
For Egged, the process started just wanting to create a book about what he knew. He worked in Detroit as a federal investigator for the Equal-Employment Opportunity Commission before retiring on disability due to multiple sclerosis.

Egged, a lifelong comic fan, also is a fifth-degree black belt in ju-jitsu, and was inducted to the Black Belt Hall of Fame in 2000.

Those two passions led to the genesis of “Gin-Ryu.” A six-page ashcan copy of an early “Gin-Ryu” story was published in 1994, which led to the eventual first issue of the limited-series later that year.

"The idea originally was to keep doing issues, not stopping at five,"Egged said. "But full-time work and other things got in the way."

The dream never died for either, though, and with advances in publishing and printing, they said it is easier than ever to produce a book. So when the opportunity to produce a graphic novel of their work presented itself, Egged jumped on it.

"I'm just so excited for the release," Egged said. "I just know people are going to like it."

Work on bringing the series back also has begun. A sixth not-yet-published edition of the series already has been written and drawn. That edition will continue the tale of “Gin-Ryu” as it continues its path through history.

The book will be for sale at Big Ben's as well as at Comixpress.com for $19.95. “Gin-Ryu” also has a Facebook page where Egged can be reached for information about the book.

Contact Staff Writer Dave Herndon at 1-734-246-0842 or dherndon@heritage.com. Follow him on Facebook and @NHDaveH on Twitter.

Check out the story on thenewsherald.com here: http://bit.ly/HRCL3Q

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