In my glamorous, jet-setting career as a comics journalist, I’ve had the chance to interview larger-than-life figures who have helped shape the industry, such as Chris Claremont and Jim Shooter. More recently, I’ve spoken to rising stars like Leah Williams and Tini Howard. But you know what else is cool? When I get to talk to my talented friends who are doing cool things!
One of those friends is Battle of the Atom co-host, illustrator and X-Men Twitter fixture Adam Reck, who’s wrapping up a very successful Kickstarter campaign to back the creation of Bish & Jubez: The Collected Edition trade paperback.
Yep, “Bish and Jubez” as in the X-Men Bishop and Jubilee. And no, you didn’t miss any recent series announcements–this has nothing to do with the Dawn of X (aside from the fact that it too is an example of solid storytelling). Reck’s long-running X-Men fan comic continuously pleased X-Fans each and every X-Men Monday, so it came as no surprise to see how quickly the project surpassed its $1,500 funding goal. As of this writing, the campaign is closing in on its ultimate stretch goal of $5,000.
As the campaign ends November 12, there’s still time to help Reck get there–and unlock specially created trading cards by Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur artist Natacha Bustos! To celebrate this achievement and maybe–just maybe–encourage a few more fans of good comics to back the project, I reached out to Reck to pick his brain on all things Bish & Jubez (and X-Men, of course)!
AIPT: OK, Adam, I’d like to go back to the very beginning of the Bish & Jubez saga. How did the initial idea for this storyline come about?
Adam Reck: About five years ago, I really wanted to get back into drawing and making art on a regular basis. I was using a work iPad and a really crummy stylus to try my hand at digital art. And it was absolutely terrible. I have a four-year art degree, I thought that I knew how to draw, and I was really annoyed at how out of practice I was. I knew I needed something more consistent to keep my drawing. And that ended up being this fan comic. I had been listening to a lot of Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men, I was getting obsessed with X-Men again, so I picked an odd couple of characters and made a page. Then I wanted to do another one, and I just didn’t stop. Later, Zack Jenkins (a.k.a. Xavier Files) reached out to re-post the pages, and that gave me even more reason to keep going.
AIPT: And more recently, how did you know it was time to bring the Bish & Jubez saga to a close?
Reck: I always had an endgame in mind after I did Age of Stryfe. I think what surprised me was how long it took to get there. I kept saying, oh I’ll wrap it up in issue 3, oh I’ll wrap it up in issue 4, and each issue was longer than the last. At a certain point I had to say: No, this has to be how it ends in this many pages. If I didn’t, I could have kept going, as the epilogue in the upcoming TPB shows.
AIPT: Right now, many fans of the various Bish & Jubez chapters are surely saying, “Keep going, Adam!” But moving right along, what makes Bishop and Jubilee your favorite X-Men?
Reck: It’s not so much that each of them individually are my favorite: I just love the possibilities of their dynamic. It’s explored a little in the early ’90s books, but here you have this great Butch Cassidy and Sundance buddy-cop situation. She’s this upbeat mall-punk who’s not afraid to speak her mind, and Bishop is this grumpy walking anger management issue. And they balance each other out so well.
AIPT: Yeah but, come on… who’s your true favorite X-Man?
Reck: If I have to choose between these beautiful children, I’m going with… Jubilee. What an amazing, spunky character. She’s a brat, she’s a mom, she was a vampire! So much potential there for future stories.
AIPT: One of the series’ main characters ended up being the Dinobot Grimlock. How did this popular Transformers character find his way into your story?
Reck: My first comics were the Marvel Transformers series. I worked really hard as a kid to hunt down all the back issues when I jumped in about halfway through the run. In college, I stupidly sold the whole lot and only recently within the last month re-collected the run again. And Grimlock is really important in the comic. He’s a major character in a way he never was in the show.
A big part of this book was thinking, since I can throw whatever and whoever I want in this story, who am I going to put in here to make for the best cast and to have the most fun. And the early Transformers issues are set in the 616! The Dinobots are the Dinobots because they land in the Savage Land! It was the perfect way to fit Grimlock into the story as the rest of the team time traveled.
AIPT: I read the whole Marvel series when I was younger, but you reminding me of that Savage Land bit makes me want to revisit them all over again! Now, on your Kickstarter page, there’s a quote from X-Men ’92 writer Chad Bowers that, in my opinion, really hits the nail on the head. He said, “Bish & Jubez is a delightful reminder that everything matters to somebody.” Was highlighting some of the more obscure parts of X-Men history something you set out to do with these stories?
Reck: I know there are people who want every back issue of X-Men. When I’m digging through long boxes, I want to find the most obscure things I possibly can. I love the underdogs of the X-Universe: Fallen Angels, X-Terminators, Morlocks, etc. So I tried to put as many faves in here as I could without it getting too out of control. That’s why Ariel is here. That’s why there’s an AU Maggott with Eenie and Meenie Velociraptors. I know I’m not alone in caring about these weirdo forgotten characters, so I hope when they show up it means something to whoever is reading. Also, as I made the book, I saw the reader reactions to the appearances of certain characters and kept them around much longer because I saw the love for them.
AIPT: And speaking of Bowers, he isn’t the only professional comic writer to praise the project, as Prisoner X writer Vita Ayala is also a fan. How does it feel to have actual X-Men writers reading your X-Men fan comic?
Reck: It’s obviously a dream of mine to one day do something for Marvel. If I die having had any professional collaboration with the actual X-Men, I will die happy. So it’s incredibly surreal to have amazing, talented people whose work I admire say they dig my silly fan comic. It’s validating in a way that makes me want to keep making comics and keep getting better at my craft.
AIPT: Do you have a dream Marvel project you’d love to do?
Reck: I don’t have any insanely ambitious Grand Design idea, no. I’m realistic about who Marvel hires and why. I’d love to be included in something like the X-Men holiday special they did last year. Just a page. That’s not crazy to ask, is it? That being said, I love making up wacky pitches, and I’ve shared some of these on Twitter like my all-psychic team that leads astral plane attacks from an apartment or this unlucky Longshot story. If they’re ever in need of mini-series ideas, I got them for days.
AIPT: As a creator, how has the process of putting the entire series together in a TPB format been for you?
Reck: I really enjoy using InDesign for graphic design, but what is really cool is seeing it ALL together with the guest artwork, all five books, Amanda’s new cover colors, Zack’s introduction. It’s fun seeing this thing I’ve been working on for three years come together into a little book that someone could enjoy for a bit and keep on their shelf.
AIPT: Definitely. I can’t wait to sit down and read it all again from beginning to end in the new format. And can you talk a bit about the trading cards backers will receive and how you went about getting a few professional comics artists to create original artwork of your takes on classic characters?
Reck: The campaign hit its initial funding goal in under 12 hours. I was not expecting that. So right away I needed to come up with stretch goals, and something I have been thinking about doing for at least a year is an X-Men trading card series. This was the perfect time to put that into play. I’ve been incredibly lucky with the professionals who agreed to make the cards. Gleb Melnikov, Adam Gorham, Peter Nguyen, Bethany McGuire-Smith and Natacha Bustos are all incredible artists whose work I love, so I’m honored and so excited they are contributing to this project.
AIPT: Marvel’s put out so many great X-Men trading card sets through the years–do you have a favorite?
Reck: The Jim Lee Impel series that these cards will be modeled after were such a big deal to 11-year-old me. Jim Lee was already this god made man even before that set came out–but then he did the ENTIRE SET. It was unbelievably cool. I also really loved the Marvel Universe Series 2 cards. Lots of great Art Adams, Erik Larsen, even John Romita Jr.
AIPT: For those who are reading about Bish & Jubez for the first time, why should they consider backing your Kickstarter?
Reck: Bish & Jubez is designed to be fun. It’s a story about Bishop and Jubilee accidentally ending up on an epic quest because of a futuristic snack. If you’re an X-Men fan looking for a good time, here is this wacky story that you will definitely find something enjoyable in, whether it’s time travel shenanigans, evil twins, homages to ’90’s art, or a cast of obscure and lovable characters, I tried to pack as much into this as I could, and hopefully you’ll get a kick out of it. I sure loved making it.
AIPT: You rank X-Men stories on the Battle of the Atom podcast, so… what’s your favorite X-Men story of all time and what’s your favorite Dawn of X series so far?
Reck: Oh geez! This is a tough one, but I think I have to go with “Asgardian Wars.” It’s the trade paperback that I reread more than any other growing up. I loved the Paul Smith and the Art Adams artwork. It has a huge cast with Alpha Flight, the New Mutants, and all the Thor characters, and I still really love it to this day.
With Dawn of X, as of today X-Men, Marauders, and Excalibur have come out, and I think I’m going to give the slight edge to Excalibur. Tini and Marcus really outdid themselves with that first issue–tons of world building, a clear setup for the book, and it feels big in a way that this era of X-Men should. I absolutely loved it and want to see where it goes next!
AIPT: Hey–great segue to my final question! What’s next for Adam Reck?
Reck: I am really committed to doing two things in 2020–working from someone else’s script and scripting someone else’s artwork. We’ll see if that happens. I have a bunch of ideas for projects right now, but the other big thing is that I don’t want to work with someone else’s IP. I want to do something wholly original, and hopefully folks can look forward to some cool stuff. Now I just have to start making it.
AIPT: I have a feeling you’ll do just fine. Thanks for taking the time to chat, Adam and best of luck with the campaign!
Like what Adam had to say? Then head over to the Bish & Jubez: The Collected Edition Trade Paperback! Kickstarter campaign to learn more about the project and help Adam hit that $5,000 stretch goal! But hurry–it ends November 12!