Dark Horse editor Daniel Chabon gave an interview to Court Of Nerds, published today, which talked about the ten-year history of Jeff Lemire’s Black Hammer, a Dark Horse Comics critical and sales hit.Yes, seventeen years. And you thought it only just came out. He tells the site,
Black Hammer began in 2007 when Jeff was working on Essex County at Top Shelf. This was before Jeff started to work with mainstream superheroes at Marvel and DC and he was not sure if he’d ever get to work on those characters. So he decided to create his own versions that pushed his interests in stories about family and small-town life. Jeff initially pitched the project to former Dark Horse editor Diana Schutz and it was accepted. This was to be Jeff’s next project after Essex County, but Jeff also had Sweet Tooth kicking around in his head at the same time and shifted over to draw forty issues of that at Vertigo. Come 2014, Jeff returned to Black Hammer. Diana had retired from Dark Horse, and Brendan Wright had taken over as editor. Jeff knew he would not be able to draw the book with his busy schedule. He had been following Dean Ormston’s work for years and met him for the first time at the Thought Bubble comic festival in 2011. When Jeff finally wanted to bring Black Hammer back, he brought Dean, who was really a perfect fit for the story—his unique art style pushes the book to really stand out among all the other titles that feature superheroes. Dave Stewart was brought in for colors and Todd Klein for letters, and at that point you had this amazing rock star ensemble of comic book creators.
Then came another challenge: after the book was announced and the first issue had been drawn, Dean suffered a brain hemorrhage and became paralyzed on his right side—the side that included his drawing hand. The series was delayed, and it was unknown whether or not Dean was going to be able to recover. Time went by. Brendan left Dark Horse to pursue freelance editing, and I was assigned this book. It had been several months since Dean had the hemorrhage and he had been going through rehab. After some time Dean appeared to be getting better and was starting to draw Black Hammer again. After getting a good portion of the art in for subsequent issues, we built a release schedule that gave Dean some breathing room so he would be able to get the book out. Now Dean seems to be doing a lot better—he’s currently drawing issue #10!