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SAN DIEGO -- Image Comics on Saturday at Comic-Con International announced that C.B. Cebulski is doing his first work with the publisher with a pair of projects -- Drain with artist Sana Takeda and Shiki with artist Joćo Lemos.

The Continuum caught up with Cebulski to talk about both books:

The Continuum: How did these projects come about?

Cebulski: I always knew I wanted to do my own creator-owned comics. I've had ideas popping out of my head for years. While I was at Marvel, my attention was pretty much focused solely on their characters of course. But after leaving Marvel, there was kind of a mental weight lifted off my shoulders and all the ideas I'd had in the past started bubbling up again. I got out the old notebooks, started researching, started writing and got revved up to start putting out my own books again.

The Continuum: Why did you decide on Image?

Cebulski: For me it was about two things, creative control and comfort. I knew I didn't want to sacrifice any control over story, content or rights.

I speak on behalf of my artists here, too. These were our ideas, our concepts and our characters, and after carefully researching a lot of the deals out there, we didn't feel comfortable giving part ownership and partial control to another entity. We selfishly wanted to keep this purely our own and Image offered us that option.

And when I speak of comfort, I'm talking about that between the creators and the publisher. With Image, it doesn't get any better. I've known Eric Stephenson and Jim Demonakos before we even got into business together. And I have nothing but respect for Erik Larsen and have enjoyed getting to know him since signing with Image. Erik, Eric and Jim in turn have nothing but the utmost respect for the creators and titles they bring under the Image banner.

That's the kind of relationship and support I was looking for in finding a home for our books.

The Continuum: Can you describe each project, the thrust of story, etc.?

Cebulski: Being that I'm so close to it, Shiki is a very hard story for me to boil down into just a paragraph. It's a story of personal growth and adventure firmly rooted in a fantasy realm.

In a nutshell, Shiki's about a teenage girl named Saya who, while on a pilgrimage, upsets the Gods of the Four Seasons. Not the most forgiving or tolerant of deities, the Four decide that in punishment for her intrusion, Saya's valley will be forced to live without the changing seasons, a veritable death sentence for their way of life.

Saya must then travel to the Lands of the Four Seasons and apologize to the Gods of Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring directly in order for her home and her people to survive.

Joćo Lemos is the artist and has a style unlike any you've ever seen. He's going to be a star and I predict his art will be trend-setting in this industry, making a stylistic impact along the lines of what Mike Mignola and Bruce Timm have done.

Shiki will run 12 issues starting in early 2007.

Drain is my "centuries-spanning vampire epic" that follows the life of a female Japanese vampire and her adventures from the Edo Period to modern times. It crosses all kinds of time periods and genres and is a whole lot of bloody, violent fun.

Her clan destroyed, her family murdered, by vampires, Chinatsu, a once-proud female ninja, had nothing left to live for... save revenge.

In this tale of bloodlust and betrayal, Chinatsu, now a vampire herself, tracks the dark lord that turned her all those long years ago. Immortality has only made her need for vengeance stronger as she follows him across the globe, through the centuries, battling the undead minions that rise up to stop her.

Sana Takeda is digitally painting my scripts and I couldn't be happier. She's a game designer from Japan who's been dying to get into the comic scene here and I'm thrilled to be giving her her shot. She actually did X-Men: Fairy Tales #1 with me at Marvel, but in a much lighter style than you'll find in Drain.

The Continuum: Have these been ideas you've had for while? Did you tailor them to the artists?

Cebulski: Both Shiki and Drain started as seeds of ideas that I'd been culitvating for a while. But once Sana and Joćo came on board as artists, the stories just grew and expanded at a tremendous rate. Especially Shiki, which Joćo has contributed so much to, visually and structurally.

The Continuum: Do you have more work coming from Marvel? Avengers Fairy Tales?

Cebulski: Yes, I do have some more Marvel work coming, but as to the whats and whens, that's really up to Marvel to announce. Sorry, but my hands are tied and my lips are sealed.

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