by Joe Casey
[The TPB version of Butcher Baker The Righteous Maker by Joe Casey and Mike Huddleston comes out from Image this week, and Casey (OFFICER DOWNE) offered to talk us through the making of yet another one of his offbeat action adventure comics, this one about a down and out superhero who has a lot of sex. Take it away, Joe!]
So, okay, I’m not going to waste your time with any pithy witticisms to ease you into this, but please hear me out. I’m here to talk about BUTCHER BAKER THE RIGHTEOUS MAKER, which comes out this week in its first softcover edition (published by Image Comics, natch). I guess I’ve gotten to the point in my career where I don’t even remember when this series was first published (2010? 2011?) or when we put out the hardcover edition (2013, maybe?). C’mon, it’s art. Does it really matter when? We’re talking about Right Now.
Putting the paperback version of the book together for print reminded me how f**kin’ nuts this thing is. Not to mention, how incredibly proud I am of it. It was a personal turning point for me… not necessarily in my career (who can judge that anymore? Not me…), but for whatever it is deep inside that drives me to write, to create, to push things out into the world. If you’re around long enough and you do enough work, there are always those certain projects that are like signposts for your own development as a creator. I’ve had a few in my time: Automatic Kafka with Ashley Wood. GØDLAND with Tom Scioli. And then… Butcher Baker the Righteous Maker with Mike Huddleston.
It started out with fairly modest ambitions. I wanted to pay homage to one of my favorite comicbooks of all time: Elektra: Assassin. That’s exactly why our series was eight issues long, because Elektra was eight issues long. That book also pushed the boundaries on what a “superhero” comic could be and, in our own small way, we tried to do the same thing.
So our book is basically a superhero exploitation comic… plus.
But more than that, what Butcher Baker did for me personally was to reignite my passion for the medium in a very specific way. I remember being fairly bored with themainstream comics that were coming out at that time (hey, it happens) and wanting to shake things up, at least on a content level. Sure, Butcher Baker may be yet another in a long line of postmodern superhero comicbooks… so while I can’t claim it’s the most original idea anyone’s ever had, I can tell you that the execution of said idea was something that played out on a whole different level than anything I’d ever done before.
There was a sheer enthusiasm to the work that seemed to bubble up from somewhere deep within my guts. You can see it right there on the pages. Hell, you get it just from a casual flip-through of the book…! The thing practically vibrates in your hands. At the very least, it’s a singular experience. And, at the end of the day, what else can you hope to derive from any work of art if not a singular experience…?
If nothing else, it’s a comicbook that delivers on the sheer electricity that comicbooks can possess. As I say in the backmatter, it’s about Audacity as its own virtue. Hell, you wouldn’t be here on this site, reading this, if you didn’t know what I was talking about. something that promoted that simple idea. With Butcher Baker, I feel like we accomplished that goal, at least.
We waited a fairly long time before putting this softcover out. But on some level, I wasn’t sure the world was ready for it before now. The hardcover version was designed and sold to be more of a niche market collector’s item, but what hits stores this week is obviously a mass market edition, something meant for the masses to consume. I look around at the world and all its glorious and twisted insanity and I know it’s the right time to put this book out. It seems more relevant now than it did just a few years ago. Yeah, it’s politically incorrect in places. Since when is Art required to be otherwise?
But don’t take my word for it. Get out there and check it out for yourself. Buy it for the reams of backmatter material (which some people thought was better than the comic itself… go figure). Buy it for the best Mike Huddleston artwork you’ll ever see in your life. Buy it for Sonia Harris’ crackling design work (this goddamn book is itself an objet d’art!). Buy it for Rus Wooton’s lettering (he went above and beyond on this one).
Buy it because you love comics. After all, that’s the reason we made it.
[You can buy BUTCHER BAKER THE RIGHTEOUS MAKER here, but be warned, you’ll also send us a few pennies via Amazon.]