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Storytellers fascinate me, a fact that is hopefully obvious given my affinity for interviewing them. Over the years, I have mined creators for information to varying degrees of success — some folks want to open up, others … not so much.
Chris Wright, writer/artist of Blacklung, showed a willingness to discuss his creative process to an extent I rarely get — and for which I am eternally grateful. Case in point of the quality of his answers, consider this one-sentence excerpt: “I love Tchaikovsky, and Mahler, and Tom Waits, and Leonard Cohen, and Cormac MacCarthy, and Tarkovsky.” All that in one sentence. Blacklung, which was released Nov. 7 by Fantagraphics, was best described by my Robot 6 pal Chris Mautner as “a bloody seafaring tale about a man determined to do what it takes to meet his dead wife in hell.” Wright’s debut graphic novel is part of today’s Fantagraphics Cyber Monday Sale. If you want to get a taste of the novel, Fantagraphics offers a 12-page/4.9 MB Blacklung excerpt for consideration.
Tim O’Shea: This book is dedicated to the late Dylan Williams. Can you talk a little bit about the impact that Williams had on your career?
Chris Wright: I don’t know if it’s so much about “career.” I mean, Dylan was a guy who touched a lot of people, and I was sort of on the periphery of that. I didn’t know him as well as I would have liked, but he saw my stuff around, and offered to put a book of my work out, and that book became Inkweed, which is kind of a menagerie of short stories, and drawings. I’ll always be grateful to him for that book, and for his interest and encouragement in general.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, a new Peter Bagge comic is always cause for celebration, so my first grab would be for Reset #1, Bagge’s new limited series having to do with virtual reality and the opportunity it affords a washed-up comedian to fix his past mistakes. And then there’s Linda Medley, who’s been laying low for awhile, but is back this week with a new issue of her ongoing, low-key fantasy series, Castle Waiting. These will probably be the first comics I read once I get home from the comic store this week.
If I had $30, I’ve already gone on about The Shark King, R. Kikuo Johnson’s warm and charming all-ages story based on a Hawaiian folk tale of a shark god and his half-human, mischievous progeny. It’s a lovely little book that I thoroughly recommend checking out even if you don’t have any kids in your home.
There’s also a number of notable manga out this week so I’d likely pick up one of the following: Either the latest volume of 20th Century Boys, the latest volume of Gantz or volume 2 of Katsuya Terada’s The Monkey King. There’s been a bit of a wait (seven years) for that last one, which is a gonzo, sex-and-violence rendition of the classic Journey to the West myth.
It’s not so much a splurge as a must-buy for me — Krazy and Ignatz 1922-24: At Last My Drim of Love Has Come True is the final volume in Fantagraphics’ collection of Sunday Krazy strips and full of the same George Herriman magic as the previous volumes. There’s a tinge of sadness here as I believe the late Bill Blackbeard, who helped bring this project into fruition, has an essay here, as well as a remembrance by Kim Thompson.
Awards | Adam Hines has won the graphic novel category in the 31st annual Los Angeles Times Book Prize for his debut book Duncan the Wonder Dog: Show One. The other nominees were Dash Shaw’s Bodyworld, Karl Stevens’ The Lodger, Carol Tyler’s You’ll Never Know, Book II, and Jim Woodring’s Weathercraft. [press release]
Conventions | More than two years after canceling its Los Angeles convention, Wizard World announced it will return to the city Sept. 24-25 with Los Angeles Comic Con, to be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Big Apple Comic Con, which previously had been scheduled for those dates, will be moved to the spring. [press release]
Publishing | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson talks with Viz Media Vice President Alvin Lu about the expansion of the publisher’s iPad app to include iPhone and iPod Touch. [Publishers Weekly]
Passings | Writer, editor and historian Bill Blackbeard, widely credited with saving the American comic strip from the ash heap of history, passed away on March 10 at a nursing home in Watsonville, Calif. He was 84. A lifelong collector of comic strips, Blackbeard founded the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art in 1968, filling the garage and basement with thousands of bound volumes of old newspapers let go by libraries when they converted their archives to microfilm. His collection grew by the 1990s to 350,000 Sunday strips and 2.5 million dailies, which eventually made their way to Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. Blackbeard wrote, edited or contributed to more than 200 books on cartoons and comic strips, including The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics, 100 Years of Comic Strips and Fantagraphics’ Krazy & Ignatz series.
Numerous obituaries and reminisces have appeared since yesterday, most notably from R.C. Harvey, Tom Spurgeon, Jeet Heer, Dylan Williams, ICv2.com, and Dan Nadel, who collected a handful of tributes. [The Comics Journal]