Weird Little Lines

by Chris Randle


Earlier this week I profiled the scary-talented young cartoonist Michael DeForge, who’s up for three Doug Wright Awards on May 7. But our interview ran long, and got nerdy, so I thought I would share a couple of the more illuminating excisions here.

CR: You recently posted a few pages from The Seed Stirs, a graphic novel that you started drawing last year before abandoning and pretty much destroying it. Why did you finally give up on it? Do you ever worry that something like that might become some fabled lost comic, like Al Columbia’s issue of [the unfinished Alan Moore miniseries] Big Numbers?

MICHAEL DEFORGE: I don’t think anyone’s keeping track of my projects very closely [laughs]. That one went through a few false starts. At first it had a premise that ended up – it was more about a kid’s relationship with his father, and that ended up being the bulk of Lose #3. Then as I kept rewriting it and reworking pages I ended going through three different revisions. Each time I got a few pages in…the final one I got about 17 pages in, I think. But there’s all these things I thought were wrong with the pacing and needed retooling, and some of it was just down to – I realized that I needed to draw it on bigger pages to do what I wanted with it. I just couldn’t use it anymore. And since then…I’d like to return to it, but I feel like I exhausted a lot of post-apocalyptic imagery in Lose #3, so I might want to wait a bit before I immediately return to that. The other thing is that post-apocalyptic literature is really in vogue, moreso than that comic is actually about the logistics of it. Lose #3 takes place in this wasteland, but it’s not a post-apocalyptic thing–

CR: It’s almost a subversion of it. It takes place in this wasteland, but nobody actually seems to notice or care that it does.

MD: Right. Which is a part of it, yeah, but The Seed Stirs was more about these kids living there. So I was afraid I’d be too influenced by a lot of the other stuff that’s happening right now with that. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to wait a few years and decide if I still liked the story.

CR: I guess you could always have chopped up the pages and turned them into a record cover, like Al Columbia apparently did.

MICHAEL DEFORGE: Oh, right, yeah. That’s a horrifying story.

CR: Tell me about the porn anthology that you’re co-editing.

MD: That’s with Ryan Sands, and the first issue will feature Johnny Negron, Derek Ballard, Katie Skelly…That’s been fun to work on. I don’t do a lot of work on that. Anything like that, I always feel like I don’t really earn the title of co-editor, because I’m so passive about everything. But I’m excited about that. Hopefully in the course of the two issues we’ll have a range of sexuality represented there.

CR: I was going to ask about that, actually, if there’s going to be female contributors, because it is great to have a mix of – to not just have boys doing it.

MD: Yeah. The first issue has one female contributor – we might have a second, but as of now it’s not confirmed yet [laughs]. And the second issue, I’ll be the only male contributor. We have less gay material than we might have hoped, but we’re not trying to include one of everything – a lot of the artists that we pick, we pick for aesthetic concerns too. We haven’t been super prescriptive about it, so we’re kind of just seeing how it goes. We’ve been picking artists who we trust and we think would make a diverse mix and seeing what the end result will be.

CR: You should totally approach Gilbert Hernandez [best known for Love & Rockets, but also his bizarre XXX miniseries Birdland].

MD: That would be a dream. That would be amazing.

CR: I think Birdland and maybe Colleen Coover’s Small Favors are…the height of porn comics.

MD: This year was the first time I read Birdland, which is a pretty crazy one.

CR: How everyone changes gender in the middle of it?

MD: Hernandez might be – he’s someone I came to way later, too, but he might be my favourite working cartoonist right now. I don’t know, tied with Clowes or Ware or something, but he’s been a huge influence on me despite my having only come to his work two years ago.

CR: I think he might be my favourite as well, just because we share more of the same cultural touchstones or aesthetic fixations. And I like how…rough his work is, especially in comparison with his brother. Even his clouds look like they’re from another world.

MD: Yeah, the amounts of weird tiny little lines that make up his textures are just amazing. He does my all-time favourite page layouts, I think.

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