1. Name and occupation (contact info/website/publisher’s website).
2. What is your latest project (ie, what are you hyping)?
Volume one of the two-part HC retrospective Doug Wright: Canada’s Master Cartoonist, for which I wrote a substantial essay that attempts to piece together Wright’s life and career arc from his birth through to what was arguably the peak of his success in the early 1960s. The article will be a good read, but the real corker will be seeing the pages upon pages of Wright’s art (a fair bit unseen) all compiled and designed by Seth. I hope this book becomes the Canadian treasure I imagine it to be in my head.
3. Please provide a list of books you have recently read or are planning to read. They don’t have to be comic books. (In fact, we would almost prefer they weren’t.) Any number of books is fine. Please feel free to comment (ie, Why are you reading these books? What did you think?).
Steve Ditko: Strange and Stranger by Blake Bell. Reading this book made me happy that Doug Wright was such a balanced, hard-working chap. It couldn’t have been easy to write a book about a cranky old guy who wants nothing to do with you, and for this reason i give full credit to Bell. I’ve read as much about Ditko as the next comic geek, but up until now I didn’t really get a fuller idea of who the man is. As iconoclastic as he is – what with the Objectivism and all – it was reassuring to feel that he was genuinely dedicated to being a cartoonist. It also re-sokoed my interest in Mr. A, and re-introduced the phrase “I don’t abuse my feelings” back into my day-to-day lexicon, where it belongs!
The Amazing Adventures of Jimmy Olsen. I snapped this book up in a fit of drunk shopping and I do not regret it. I loved these stories as a kid, and the stupidness of them endures to this day. According to my Pal Jeet Heer, editor Mort Weisinger actually interviewed kids and asked them what creature they wanted Olsen to turn into next – and used the ideas in the book. My four-year-old daughter was obsessed with this book all summer, but couldn’t figure out why the comic never showed Jimmy actually writing his stories. As a former news reporter my answer was simple: It would be excruciatingly dull.
Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. Despite having one of the best double-barreled titles ever, this book is a remarkable, eye-opening read. The only way it could have been better is if it was published when I was 15.
The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman. This is less a book, more of a magnificent piss take. An ambitious parody of olde “almanacs” with plenty of false information and funny stuff. (Not for girls!)
The View From Castle Rock by Alice Munro. I credit Seth and a long wait in Markham with only New Yorker magazine for company, for stoking my interest in Clinton Ontario’s-own genius, Alice Munro. She’s spare and withering in her appraisal of the human condition, and I thanks her so much for that.
What It Is by Lynda Barry. The great one (Barry) answers the question posed by the Red Foxx (the other Great One) decades ago; “What is it?” “What it is!” An amazing, inspiring, crazy beautiful book that demystifies the elusive thing called “creative inspiration.”
Gary Panter. I bought this $100 art book without my wife’s knowledge a couple of month’s ago. The trouble is, that I was so good at concealing my purchase that i can now only read it when she’s not around – which isn’t often. Great book, but I think the sneaking around has enhanced my enjoyment of it. Essentially, I’m having an affair with this book.
4. Please list any upcoming events/upcoming publications. Your next project?
With the 2008 Doug Wright Awards swept out of the way, I am now focussing on; training for a half marathon, preparing to fly to Nunavik to arctic undergo survival training, and sanding and painting an old table. Oh – and there’s a kid’s book I’m working on with my wife called The Shortest Story in the World. (It isn’t, really.)
That’s all. Have a good balance of the summer.