Venice Beach is getting its time the sun in a graphic novel that is years in the making.
And it’s a graphic novel that has lined up a who’s who of artists, ranging from Michael Allred and Paul Pope to Jae Lee and Bill Sienkiewicz, including Stephen R. Bissette, the artist of the Alan Moore-written Saga of Swamp Thing run in the 1980s, who is doing his first interior comic work in more than 20 years.
Chanan Beizer, a first-time comics author and former Venice Beach resident, spent the last four years developing The Golem of Venice Beach, self-financing the drawing and editing. He is finally taking it public via a Kickstarter campaign that officially launches next week, although a prelaunch page is now up.
The drive’s goal is to finance the publication of an ambitious 152-page epic story centered on the adventures of a 400-year-old golemspanning from 16th century Europe to World War II to modern-day Venice Beach, where the golem has become entangled in a war between a gang and the police.
Italian artist Vanessa Cardinali, who is currently making waves with Image Comics’ Slumber, is the main artist of the work, which will also feature a who’s who of comics artists that are contributing sections. Sienkiewicz, the moon knight and New Mutants artist, is providing a wrap-around cover and a seven-page prologue that showcases the golem‘s creation in the year 1580. Lee (The Dark Tower, The Inhumans) is doing art for a 10-page flashback sequence that depicts how the golem was resurrected during World War Two.
Allred has a two-page spread capturing the weird spirit and wonder of Venice Beach, Battling Boy creator Pope has a two-page spread featuring the Santa Monica Pier. Bissette is coming out of retirement for his first interior comic work in over two decades in a two-page spread described as a “phantasmagoria.” Nick Pitarra, co-creator of The Manhattan Projectsis drawing every single person who is on a panel in the book in one huge, cinematic crowd shot.
Beizer is a freelance associate director at Fox Sports who moved to Venice Beach from Queens, New York in the late 1990s. The four years he lived there, watching the daily incongruities of life in the ocean-side neighborhood, imprinted themselves in such a way that it became fuel for his simmering ambition to write comic books.
“I became fascinated by the contrast in the neighborhood from night to day,” he tells THR via email. “The dangerous shadows engulfing the lonely back alleys at midnight as opposed to the sweaty tourists sizzling under the sun at noon — very film noir versus film soleil. I like putting incongruous things together and thought of a mythic being living among the eclectic locals.”
In 2018, when he saw the screenwriting site ScreenCraft, known for its screenplay and book-to-screen contests, had introduced a graphic novel component, he submitted his script for Golem of Venice Beach and, to his surprise, won. But while that was a boost and gave him some visibility, tit was also the easy part. Finding an artist would be harder.
“I had zero viable contacts in the comic book world so I needed an editor who did,” he recalls.
He joined a Facebook group called “Connecting Comic Book Writers with Artists” and found a post by Chris Stevens, an Eisner-winning editor who worked on the 2015 anthology and tribute book, Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream. He reached out, paving the way for a collaboration in which Stevens opened the doorway to the impressive line-up of artists who now make up the book.
Sienkiewicz, for example, is an old friend of Stevens’ and worked with him on Little Nemo. The artist was taken by the story and said yes. “The 1920 expressionist German film, der golemwas a favorite of mine, so getting an opportunity to interpret such an iconic character in my own style was an enticing challenge,” said Sienkiewicz in a statement.
“With contributors like these, I know that the art in this graphic novel is beyond what I ever could have imagined,” Beizer says.
Notable pledge tiers for golem of Venice Beach include early bird pricing specials, Kickstarter exclusive prints by all the artists and a limited-edition deluxe Sienkiewicz variant hardcover.
Check out the Allred piece above and Sienkiewicz’s cover and Pope’s contribution below.