Have there been any comics/graphic novels/books that have changed the way you create?
I felt a deep connection to Chester Brown’s I Never Liked You when I first read it serialized in Yummy Fur (I was about 21 at the time). In hindsight, I can see how that was a turning point that inspired me to make more literary comics. But it took me years to develop the skills to write plainly and honestly like that. I enjoyed Maus too, but it wasn’t until I did a parody of it that I realized what a nuanced genius of comics Art Spiegelman is. Also, his (and Françoise Mouly‘s) anthology RAW from the 80′s and 90′s provided a terrific foundation of cultural and historical art comics.
In your interview on Ziggy Nixon, you mentioned that your memoir graphic novel Couch Tag will be published by Fantagraphics in 2011. Can you give us some details on it? Is it a complete memoir from birth to present, or is it more focused on certain events?
Couch Tag is basically a re-mapped Bildungsroman of my formative memories from ages 4 to 17. My parents were weird hippies so I have some unusual parenting experiences. I’ve also tried to analyze events that may have lead to my poor health (both mental and physical)… but not in such clinical terms. I guess I’m trying to talk about trauma and pain and make it funny.
How long was Slow Wave running in the Portland Mercury before it was dropped? Since you live in Portland, did this affect you more than it would have if it had been a different newspaper?
I think it was in there about a year? I’ve been dropped by hometown papers before so I should be used to it. That was a good paycheck though, and there’s fewer of those these days in the print industry.
You have had two collections of Slow Wave published so far (Dreamtoons and The Night of Your Life). When can we expect the next collection? Has Dark Horse expressed interest in publishing another one, or are you looking for a new publisher?
The material after The Night of Your Life has various stylistic experiments and many strips in color, so it might be awkward to organize all that in one book. I should probably finish Couch Tag first anyway, before I put another collection together. So far I haven’t found the best match in publishers. Maybe if Fantagraphics works out, I’ll pitch the next Slow Wave book to them. Or maybe it can just stay as a web archive. I’ve got lots of other books I want to do!
I really enjoyed the Ten Thousand Things to Do comics. Do you have any plans or interest do you more diary comics in the future? Has anyone been offended by the way your portrayed them in it?
I think I’ve exhausted my interest in diary comics for now. Maybe in another ten years I’ll try again. No one mentioned they were offended, though a friend of my girlfriend did — he got mad about how she was portrayed!
Have you ever regretted publishing something in a comic?
I see horrible flaws in everything I’ve published. But I don’t regret putting embarrassing details in anything – writing like that is purging. Though sometimes I wonder if the urge to embarrass myself in print is some kind of self-destructive masochism.
There are a lot of great zine fests and comic conventions every year. Which do you feel are the two most important ones to attend/table at?
I try to do events on both coasts every year, just to keep my name out there and get noticed by whoever might be my next “industry contact.” I regret skipping some east coast shows and maybe missing out on some book deals during that frenzy of big advances before the 2008 recession. I usually go to APE and the San Francisco Zine Fest, because those are both packed with a supportive community of independent publishers and artists. Plus we have a lot of friends in the SF Bay Area where we used to live. I try to alternate between MoCCA and SPX because I can’t afford two east coast flights in one year.
What’s the last really great zine/comic you read? What was so great about
Cometbus #53 was pretty great — a satisfying mix of self-indulgent prose, gonzo journalism, and the intimate details of other people’s lives. I cried on the bus reading part of that.
Any last comments?
Thanks for the interview! Those were thoughtful questions.
*Be sure to check out Jesse’s website where you can find the latest Slow Wave comics, and all of his books for sale: http://www.slowwave.com
**photo by Steve Rhodes