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There’s much to chew on in writer/artist Megan Kelso’s interview with CBR’s Alex Dueben, from the history of her decade-in-the-making fantasy graphic novel Artichoke Tales for Fantagraphics to the reason for her current hiatus from active comics-making. But I was particularly struck by her observations regarding “Watergate Sue,” the strip she did for The New York Times Magazine‘s “Funny Pages” comics section.
Serializing the story one page a week is a very different beast from telling a story in comic books or serializing a story that way.
Yeah, and I don’t know about you, but I had a really hard time following other peoples’ stories. I became a loyal reader, but it was not easy. Even if I really liked the story, that week to week thing was just really hard going for the readers. They had to be really motivated to read it every week and remember what happened last week. I just think it asked a tremendous lot from the readers to read comics in that form. They were doing the prose stories at the same time, and those people got a few pages, so what they were able to cover in their episodes was so much more than what the cartoonist was able to do. I just think that, as cool as it was that the “New York Times” did that, and they did it for many years, they had a serious commitment to it, but I still think it was a flawed experiment. I’m glad they did it, but I just think it was hard for the cartoonist, and it was hard for the readers, to do comics in that form and to read comics in that form.
Kelso has a lot more to say on the subject: about being the first woman cartoonist to contribute comics to the Times, about how Seth’s strip for the paper showed her what not to do, about stepping in only after Marjane Satrapi turned the gig down, about being too “headstrong” and not tailoring her strip to the paper…like I said, much to chew on.