Anonymous asked: I love your comics, not just for the drawing (which is fantastic), but for the strong storytelling in them, which is of course largely visual, but has a literary feel to it. I remember reading an interview with you in which you said that your college literature classes really changed the way you made comics (especially in terms of structure). Could you talk a bit more about that, and some books you admire?
Thank you. Yeah, definitely, literature is The Big Thing I aspire to create. I think there’s a certain backlash against what’s perceived as “literary comics” in my generation, and everyone is doing really funny, rad arty comics, or genre stuff, or anything that embraces what’s unique to the comics art form and is willfully anti-Graphic Novel. I really love all that stuff, and most of my favorite artists right now are in that school of thought, but I’m just not hip enough to pull it off. The kind of comics that I like to make are accessible storytelling-based literature, because I’m a grandpa.
The main thing that I learned from studying literature in college is how to structure a short story so that it follows some kind of logic and has some kind of conclusion. Like I knew how to conclude a plot, because you just figure out what the characters will do next and what will happen to them, but studying literature taught me that you can also resolve a story thematically, just by changing the writing or the imagery or by performing some trick of narration. In every story there’s the narrative of the characters within the story, and then there’s the narrative of the reader’s perception, if that makes any sense. Like the little emotional and intellectual journey that you take the reader on. And that second one is the important narrative to resolve.
Like most people from an academic background, I don’t know enough about contemporary literature, but here are the writers I like right now: Amy Hempel, Yasunari Kawabata, Lydia Davis, Tove Jansson, Italo Calvino, Donald Barthleme, Julio Cortázar, and Virginia Woolf. Virginia Woolf especially. Virginia Wooooooolf
EDIT: I don’t think I’m very good at concluding, beginning, or writing comics and don’t pretend to be an expert on any of this stuff.