by KC Carlson
I’m so happy to hear that Walter Simonson’s The Judas Coin graphic novel is done and has finally been scheduled for September release from DC Comics. As somebody who’s known about the project for years, it’s been hard not being able to talk about it. Especially since circumstances had me in the the right place at the wrong time, so that I’ve already had the opportunity to read over half of the 96-page graphic novel. Don’t worry — I’m not going to give anything important away…
A couple of years back, I was visiting the New York area, mostly to see old friends; to visit the “Art of Archie Comics” show at MOCCA; and to see my siblings-in-law’s new house in the area. As always, Walt & Weezie offered me a bed for a day or two at the Hotel Simonson, and I gratefully accepted. I set off to Mt. Simonson. (Yes, they live on a mountain. A small mountain, but a mountain, nonetheless. Occasionally, Walter goes out and throws thunderbolts at his unsuspecting neighbors. And on any given morning, there are probably deer foraging in the Simonson back yard. Now, that’s a place to create comic books!)
Unfortunately, I was trapped by icy conditions. (I got up the winding, tree-lined driveway but couldn’t get back down, since I didn’t have a 4-wheel drive vehicle.) Since I was going to be stuck there for a couple of days, Walter said, “So… do you want to read it?” I knew exactly what he was talking about. I think my answer was “Duh!” Next thing I knew, three chapters of The Judas Coin were sitting on the sofa next to me.
I never read anything so slowly in my life. It was so gorgeous. I think I read each page three or four times before proceeding to the next. I even found a couple of lettering typos (sorry, John Workman!), so I got to feel like I was editing again for a second or two. Mostly, I was just overwhelmed by what Walter was accomplishing.
I won’t go into details here, because I think the book will be more powerful as a surprise. What’s already known is that The Judas Coin consists of six chapters, each set in a different place in the DC timeline, starring a diverse selection of DC historical characters, some of whom haven’t been seen in decades. One chapter even provides some closure to an unfinished DC series from the 1970s. I won’t mention who all the characters are, but you can obviously figure out some of them from the recently released cover, shown here.
What hasn’t been announced (and maybe DC’s marketing folks aren’t even aware of this — or don’t think it’s important) is that Walter is using a different style of artwork for each different chapter/character. In some instances, he’s drawing in the style of the artist who originally drew the character, while for others, he applied a style of drawing that he admired and wanted to attempt. If nothing else, this makes The Judas Coin a fascinating artistic tour de force for Simonson and his legion of fans. The story is great, also. I still don’t know all the details, but I have been present a couple of times when Walter was discussing plot points with friends and other creators — all of whom reacted with some version of “That’s brilliant!” — including me.
I can’t wait for the post-mortem interviews with Walter, where all of the secrets of The Judas Coin can be revealed. September is a long way away.
By the way, I was stuck on Mt. Simonson for two days (a very pleasant place to get “stuck”), and when I wasn’t drooling on the original art for The Judas Coin, I was watching the weather reports showing that a blizzard was working its way up from the south — exactly the direction I had to drive to get home. Finally, the ice melted enough to give me a chance to get down the Simonsons’ driveway (provided I only went about 2 mph), giving me just a six-hour window to get home (so I missed seeing the new house and the MOCCA show). Of course, I got stuck in traffic in Washington D.C., so I had to drive the last hour or so in the blizzard. But the Simonsons (and NYC) had it worse. This was the storm that dumped about 20 inches of snow on the NYC area, effectively shutting it down for days. The Simonsons lost power several hours after I left and didn’t get it back for several days — making it very difficult to work at a drawing board without light.
Trust me, The Judas Coin will be worth the wait.