Author Intro – Ted Naifeh
Ted Naifeh is one of my favorite people working in comics. I discovered him back in 2001 when he was illustrating Gloomcookie for Slave Labor Graphics. I loved his style, but he only worked on the first six issues and then I didn’t see him for a while. Of course, in that time I also graduated from college, moved back home, and started grad school, so I wasn’t looking all that hard.
Then, in 2003 a friend who was working at a comic shop recommended Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things by Ted Naifeh. I bought it sight unseen, which I don’t actually do with comics very often. And I loved it. I loved it extra special good. Courtney is a weird child and her overly perfect parents don’t especially want to deal with her. So, they send her to live with her Uncle Aloysius in his strange, old house, which is in a very strange town. Before long, she discovers that there are things that go bump in the night, and most of them are her new neighbors. Courtney gets herself involved with the night things, which is never a very safe thing to do. The first book is poignant and beautifully illustrated. There are several Courtney books and one of my most treasured possessions is the original of a page from Courtney Crumrin and the Coven of Mystics. A friend picked it up for me at DragonCon one year and I’ve collected original Ted Naifeh art ever since.
Next, comes Polly and the Pirates, which I absolutely adore. It’s a little bit A Little Princess meets Sinbad the Sailor. Polly is at a very proper girls’ boarding school when she finds out that her long-lost mother just might have been a pirate queen. No one could be expected to sit around and learn embroidery under those circumstances! Polly, very sensibly, strikes off on an adventure with her mother’s old crew.
At the first DragonCon I attended while Ted Naifeh was a guest I commissioned a black and white convention sketch of Polly. Last year I got another one in color. I think she’s rather splendid, don’t you?
The final Ted Naifeh project I want to talk about is a collaboration he did with Holly Black. The Good Neighbors series is urban fantasy at its peak. The three books, Kin, Kith, and Kind are all illustrated novels about a young woman named Rue Silver. Her mother has disappeared and her father has been arrested on suspicion of murder. Rue is torn, she doesn’t want to believe the worst about her father, but she knows he has secrets. What she discovers is bigger than she ever expected.
Her mother isn’t human. Instead, she is the daughter of the Faerie King and a broken promise has dragged her mother back from the mortal realm into the faerie realm. It has also left an opening for her grandfather to invade the mortal realm and try to make it his own. The setting gets increasingly surreal throughout the series as the town is increasingly subsumed by the supernatural. Rue is the only one with the power and the freedom to stand against her grandfather, but does she want to?
I have the final inked version of this amazing splash page from Kind –
So, to summarize, Ted Naifeh is an amazing artist (clearly), and I love his work. I would strongly encourage you to check him out!