Friday, August 26, 2016
Under The Microscope At The Comics Journal
My last book, Enough Astronaut Blood To Last The Winter got reviewed today at the Comics Journal via Keith Silva. It's a tricky book to take apart and I think Silva does it quite well. Lots of open questions and examinations of why I do what I do. My home state is actually Michigan, but in all fairness, Minnesota is Michigan-esque.
You can read it here.
To clarify a few things about the creation, I'll give a little context. The book was assembled in its first draft before I left New York. This being the third book in a series of abstract autobiographies constructed at the very end of specific periods. My previous efforts had no publisher. Journey By Ferry was made possible with grants and Shutdown Vol. 3 was my design thesis, printed with love on a very testy Solna press.
Astronaut Blood was kicking around for a while, and then came the offer at Fantagraphics. Gary Groth was starting a new imprint, Fantagraphics Underground or FU for short, and he remembered the art book I had solicited. Gary's a very cool cucumber.
I then began the process of re-designing the guts, this being the 8th or so time, previous versions were done in the 5x7 and 6x9 formats and displayed in black and white. Photos and drawings had to be relocated, re-scanned, all that jazz. I love art and design, so that was just fine with me. The not so fun part was re-visiting the subject matter. Usually these books are done after location moves, defined chapters of a life. They're put together and then I move on. The dermis is shed, a purge occurs, demons are cast out, and a new life begins. Usually.
Re-editing Astronaut Blood forced me to re-enter a weird zone. In there I saw faces that had vanished, re-lived feuds that have since evaporated, explored ancient concerns, fears, hopes. Had imaginary drinks with friends that I loved that are no longer in my orbit. It was weird. And I had to cut it up again. This was a sort of confrontation.
It helped that the structure was there already, nothing new was added, if anything things got left out. Like the fabled 6 hour cut of Apocalypse Now (yes, it does exist), it needed some trimming. What may appear on the surface as chaos is actually a definitive exhibition. It's a monograph and journal designed by the artist as opposed to an art book assembled by an outside presence like a historian or researcher.
Overall, it was a beneficial process. One that's actually happening again now as I write this. Folders sit in my studio, holding the work I've done since I've moved to Minneapolis. It'll be examined and dealt with when I leave. Luckily, the title has already revealed itself. More on that later.