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Talking Comics with Tim: Gary Phillips

Bicycle Cop Dave

Bicycle Cop Dave

Gary Phillips‘ new story on gentrification, Bicycle Cop Dave, which he is writing (with Manoel Magalhães as artist) is unlike any other webcomic I have read (and for those of you reading this interview at work, it is a mature webcomic [meaning not safe for work {NSFW}]). Phillips, a longtime community activist and successful mystery novelist, has teamed with FourStory (a housing advocacy site “supporting fair living conditions for everyone”) on this project. I interviewed Phillips a number of years ago in connection with Angeltown at Vertigo, so it was a pleasure to catch up with him through this email interview.

Tim O’Shea: Given the nature of Bicycle Cop Dave, would it be fair to say you are a community activist on some level?

Gary Phillips: Yes, as Sarah Palin tried to punk on last year, I was once a diligent and dreaded community organizers. I’ve also been a business rep for a union, the political director for an electoral campaign and the state director for a political action committee. Certainly in some of my prose work, from my first book Violent Spring, a mystery set after the ’92 riots (or civil unrest depending on where you are on the political spectrum) to my recent Freedom’s Fight,  about black soldiers in WWII, a certain amount of social-political stuff infuses my work.

But, and this is a big, but as it were, there’s a reason I mostly write crime and mystery stories and not tired-ass, long-winded nonfiction polemics. I like my characters twisted, bent and strange doing all sorts of mischief, and not trotting out their soap boxes to jump on to give a spiel and harangue.

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