Some use pen and paper to make a comic, while others employ a stylus and a computer screen. But photographer Seth Kushner moves beyond the idea of utilizing a camera to document life to instead capture images to tell a story in a sequential narrative. Y’know, comics. In the past few years, Kushner has come to be a significant force in comics, both for his photocomix like CulturePOP at Trip City and for his more traditional photography work profiling comic creators. For the latter, he’s best known in comic circles for his partnership with writer Chris Irving, which produced the website Graphic NYC and recently the printed book Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics.
As both a chronicler of comic creators and a comic creator himself, Kushner is an interesting subject to talk about the current landscape of comics. From the American reception to photocomix (as compared to the European adoration for them as fumetti) to his personal and iconic photography of comic creators that’s far beyond the grainy bygone magazine photographs we’re used to. In his work, he allows the comic creators themselves to live up to the lofty nature of the comics they produce. And his comics work, both in the photocomic CulturePOP and his more traditionally drawn series Schmuck, Kushner keeps his personal aesthetic for being “up close and personal” with his writing and treatment of his subjects.
As long as I have been covering the comics industry, it seems like I have always found reasons to support the work of Dean Haspiel and/or his many talented associates. So when Trip City, a Brooklyn-filtered literary arts salon, launched at the start of last month it struck me as a good time to reach out to the founders for an email chat. While Trip City has four key members (Haspiel, Seth Kushner, Chris Miskiewicz and Jeffrey Burandt) the bulk of the discussion involved Kushner and Miskiewicz, with a brief check-in by Haspiel (discussing the start of a new Billy Dogma story, The Last Romantic Antihero [TLRA]). Haspiel also gave me a head’s up on a December 8 TLRA live reading at BookCourt at 7 PM (163 Court St Brooklyn, New York 11201/718-875-3677).
Tim O’Shea: When did TRIP CITY first get conceived–and how did the two of you come to be involved? How early in the planning was it determined that a podcast would be important to the venture?
Chris Miskiewicz: Dean was leaving Deep6 and starting a new studio. Seth Kushner and I were the first people he asked along. Although my film schedule is always in flux and I wasn’t sure how often I’d actually be there, the idea of sitting around others and not being by myself writing appealed to me. So we formed HANG DAI Studios.
If you put three creative people in a room together stuff happens. What happened was TRIP CITY. We spoke about the concept for about five months. Who would be a part of it, what we’d do, how we’d do it. We didn’t want to revamp ACT-I-VATE but we did want comics, along with prose, fiction, a web-series, and a podcast. What we did was create a multimedia site that catered to our individual interests blending them together into a whole.