Jules Feiffer and I have spent a lot of time together over the last three days, scanning books, organizing slides, discussing possible class topics. It’s been enormously fun to work as his assistant, and I’ve had the chance to reexamine so many gorgeous drawings from the early 20th century. I’ve always loved Winsor McCay’s work, but god- the ingenuity! the draftsmanship! His weekly pace! They are just so beautiful. Here are some of my favorites:
It is somehow wildly exhilarating to read, devour really, the chronicled chapters of fiction recounting Sammy’s love for Tracy Bacon and the discovery of his own sexuality, the daring and passion of the love between Joe and Rosa, their art, their ****ing, never seen but smoldering and constant in the hinting in each chapter. Chabon has an amazing tale, and after eight months in cartooning school I am finally beginning to glimpse just how masterfully he has woven his fictional story into the real world of New York City in the late 30’s and early 40’s. It’s SO steamy. And the city vibrates with a life and color that is greater than life, it sings from the past, calling out to these two cousins and the world that somehow brought them together. I want to tell stories with this kind of depth, this kind of significance. I want to be able to absolutely capture my audience. And I have no idea where to find that kind of a story.
Michelangelo wrote of carving as if he must release the form inside the block of marble, as if the figure is already there, waiting, throbbing and tenacious to breathe and live. Is that what it is to write a thing? To create something new. Is the story, can the story, be told with meaning and depth through comics?
I don’t know. I hope so. I do know that for the better part of two days I’ve done little else but read. This novel is just so damn good most of the time. It’s amazing.