Introduction by Jim Butcher
I remember the first comic book I ever bought with my own money. It was 1978, and I was seven. My family was on vacation in Acapulco, and I got myself the kind of sunburn that leaves you lying on your stomach for a day or two while you heal up. Being seven, and speaking no Spanish (and thus unable to understand the TV), I was bored out of my mind in short order. I'd already read through my copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
, and I wandered down to the hotel store to get a snack and look for another book. They didn't have any books in English, or at least nothing good.
But then I saw that they had Daredevil
I don't remember the issue, but Daredevil was taking on Tatterdemalion, and it was, for a seven-year-old, an extremely dark, creepy, and rather scary story. I was so young, I'd never seen the word “damn” in print until I read that issue.
It was amazing.
I went back to the hotel store. I bought them out of all, I dunno, eight or nine titles they carried. The Hulk, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange,
and Thor. Batman, Teen Titans,
. Since they were all the reading I had, I made the most of it. I read them all, several times. I studied the art. I tried drawing a few of the pictures myself (making the discovery that I had almost zero natural talent for such work). And it was all downhill from there.
I read comics for the rest of my childhood, and when I started writing my own stories, they were all strongly influenced by the characters and scenes and situations I found there. Harry Dresden, in my head, has always been a comic book hero. The biggest scenes and confrontations in The Dresden Files almost always crystallize into a single image in my imagination, and that image becomes the basis for the scene around it. I don't have the skill to share those images with other people by creating them myself. I've always had to do it with words, instead.
But then the Dabel Brothers came along with a good idea and a guy named Ardian Syaf.
Ardian is amazing. I mean, it's one thing to turn out a single good piece that you focus enormous thought and effort in. It's another thing entirely to turn in one solid piece after another, on a deadline, day after day. And it's still another
thing to do that with someone else at your elbow going, “Hey, no, you need to fix this detail. Hey, his nose is too long. Hey, why is this shadow laying over that detail? Can't you make all the shadows fall different ways so we can see better?”
If you'd asked me before we got started, I never would have thought that an artist would have the patience to keep working to make me happy with the characters he's giving a face and form to. I have frequently sent him pictures of two people who look nothing alike and said things like, “He looks like both of these guys, make him look like that.” I have asked him to convey aspects of a character that, frankly, simply cannot be displayed visually. Week after week, poor Ard has put out one page after another, all of them solidly professional, many of them truly outstanding, while getting the kind of feedback and requests that would try the patience of a saint's guardian angel.
Here are some of the results. It's my story, adapted almost too
faithfully from the book by Mark Powers. Ardian has given the characters faces and bodies, and breathed life into the action. Sometimes looking at the pages is positively eerie for me-because I'm seeing, in the real world, things that I'd only previously seen in my imagination. Sometimes, actually seeing those images has been downright shocking. I'll stare and blink for a minute and then say, “Did I write that?” And I'll look and read it from the book, which brings up all the associated images that have been back in the dusty vaults of my head, and THERE THEY ARE
, on my computer monitor.
It was, is, and continues to be amazing.
I hope you enjoy reading this work as much as I enjoyed both creating the story and seeing it come together on the page. It's even more fun than Acapulco.
Excerpted from Jim Butcher: The Dresden Files: Storm Front: Vol. 1: The Gathering Storm by Illustrated by Ardian Syaf. Copyright © 2009 by Jim Butcher. Excerpted by permission of Del Rey/Dabel Brothers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.