Last week, I attended the Austin Comic Con (aka Wizard World Texas). Oddly, the show ran Thursday through Saturday. No Sunday at all. Since Saturday was Yom Kippur, I only went on Thursday evening, which ran from 4:30-9, and Friday, 2 until sundown.
The recent graphic interpretation of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book afforded me the chance to interview the legendary artist P. Craig Russell. I lept at the opportunity which lead to a discussion that touched on a variety of topics including Neil Gaiman, art, young adult fiction, Busby Berkley, and why Russell had no social life for three months.
RICK KLAW: Unlike your previous adaptations, you worked with a variety of artists. How does your approach differ when you aren’t doing the art?
P. CRAIG RUSSELL: The only difference in my approach to the art when working with other artists is that I put a little more effort into designing the picture within individual panels. If I’m doing it for myself I only need a few squiggles to remind myself weeks or months later what needs to be drawn in that panel. For other artists I spend more time on a recognizable composition, sometimes adding/suggesting background details.
Around this time of year, in “Nexus Graphicii” (how do you pluralize that?) past, I have tended to write up an Our-Man-In-Havana dispatch about the San Diego Comic Con, and what I may have seen or gleaned while there, since I generally go, and am up the road, a mere (but crowded) train ride or (very crowded and slow) car ride away.
However, I didn’t get to Comic Con this year.
I didn’t get to it last year, either. Then, I was in Israel. A trip that now seems half a lifetime away, given how radically the situation in the Mideast has changed (or how rapidly so many tamped down energies have come roaring fatally to the surface.)
This summer, I thought of going to the Con for a day or two, but my Ex turned out to be out-of-town (not at Comic Con!) the same time, and I was on “dad duty,” such as it still is, in these days of “emptying nests” in my life.
But there’s still chauffeuring that needs doing, and groceries to be gotten, and meals to be shared.
So, like you, I got my Comic Con news virtually, almost in real-time. The notion of how readily available so much of what had once been “exclusive” to the Con, has become, was encapsulated the night after the convention had wrapped up, and I was with eldest son to see a Guardians of the Galaxy screening (about which, more in a moment).
I’ve been reading a lot of “Midrash” these past weeks, comics-wise. What is “Midrash?” Well, according to one online dictionary, it’s “a Hebrew word referring to a method of reading details into, or out of, a Biblical text.”
It can also be used, in Judaism, to explain the reasons “why” a certain law or Rabbinic precept exists. They are stories, in other word, used to plug in the gaps when people ask, “Well, wait a minute, but why?” (or, perhaps, “how?”)
On the August 17, 1995 episode of his TV series, conservative mouthpiece Rush Limbaugh held up a copy of Joe R. Lansdale and Tim Truman’s Lone Ranger and Tonto (Topps, 1995) graphic novel and chided their portrayal of an intelligent, independent Tonto as “political correctness.” In his typical, uninformed manner, Limbaugh didn’t even research the offending material (“I have far more productive things to do than read comic books.”) The creative duo would attract even more controversy in 1996.
Greetings, dear reader.
Rick explained the origins of “Nexus Graphica” in his reboot column last month — in fact referring to our original chat where we came up with the title, I discovered that my predilection for cutting prepositions was, well, predilectin’, even back then.
Which, given my sideline as a journalist, is no surprise. I’m always trying to cut those preps when and where I can. Though I guess “sideline” brings up its own conundrums: Am I a journalist moonlighting as a novelist, or is it the reverse? Or am I a writing teacher who does both? It probably depends which of those particular hats has last paid for a bag of groceries.
Just under six years ago, Mark London Williams (of Danger Boy fame and points West) and I embarked on a series of essays centered on graphic novels for SF Site. After discussions about formats, we ultimately decided on the title Nexus Graphica for our bi-weekly column.