A Thank You to Comics

by on Mar.31, 2011

Because comic strips and comic books were in childhood (and remain today) such a great love of mine, I was so happy to be invited by Ki Russell and Chun Lee of Southwestern Review to have one of the chapters of The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold be given to an artist for a graphic novel themed issue. They have kindly given me permission to place the images here, as the journal is distributed mainly in-house at ULL. I had no contact with the artist, Jeff Darwin, for this, which also lends the experience a certain supernatural glow: like having my mind read in pictures.

Of course I had considered the relationship of comics to my own writing as I wrote Horse, Flower, Bird, whose form has been described as a “comic book without pictures” by some. (The book contains ghostly, liminal illuminations made for the book as a whole by Rikki Ducornet; she does not consider them to belong to individual stories, that is.) And as I wrote and made pictures for my trilogy of novels I thought about how illustrations in fairy-tale books work: as a kid I always anticipated and pored over them. I was especially mystified and excited when they had details in them that had not even been in the story! I borrowed that technique for the novels.

But seeing “The Ladies’ Room” illustrated this way reveals in a different, very direct way, for me, how my actual writing style has been profoundly influenced by the art form of comics (which retell or discuss fairy tales often). All that compression. And repetition. And exclamation.

So Peanuts, 70s Playboys, Betty & Veronica, Krazy Kat: thank you. And so many others.

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud is great and also has taught me a lot about the influence of comics on my work, and on how I read. I am interested in knowing how reading comics has influenced other writers.

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