Monday, August 27, 2007

Smackdown!! Campbell vs Greenberg Title Fight

I've only had the pleasure of making Eddie Campbell's acquaintance quite recently, but in the short time we've known one another, we've already managed to have one gloves-off smackdown barney.

As readers of his blog will be well aware, Australia's most famous graphic novelist is a man of eloquently expressed - and very strong - opinions. And had she done her homework, this little Bug would have known that there is one "piranha pond" of which young players are advised to steer well clear: the topic of What We Call Our Work.

Of course we've kissed-and-made-up, so I'm afraid I can't promise a WWE-style wrestling match when we appear together at the Melbourne or Brisbane writers festivals... but I can offer this little cartoon version of events, in which we all get a good walloping.

Special thanks to the lovely Jason Conlan, cartoonist extraordinaire and wrestling announcer, who kindly allowed me to borrow his "mister J" character as the guest commentator for...

The Title Fight!!

(I haven't yet learned how to make these pics bigger, so you'll need to click on each page to enlarge)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

On famous editors, and editors-to-be

Today I gave a couple of talks at Chisholm Institute of TAFE, on the subject of making and reading graphic narratives, with reference to Gatsby.

The audiences were all students of professional writing and editing, and it was an absolute pleasure to talk with them. They all seemed so engaged with things like graphic narrative devices and the process of adaptation, which are topics dear to my heart, of course. And because they were also studying editing, it was the perfect opportunity to mention one of the best books I've read in a while: a biography of Fitzgerald's editor, the extraordinary Max Perkins (Max Perkins - Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg). This book actually gave me more of an insight into the creative processes behind The Great Gatsby than anything else I've read. And more importantly, it was a wonderful, fascinating look at a very private, very understated man who had the subtle-but-great talent of nurturing and shaping the talents of others.

More recently I've been reading some other graphic narratives (comics, graphic novels, whatever - I am way too tired today to buy into the "what do we call them" debate!): Eddie Campbell's beautifully painted, super-suspenseful and texture-filled detective story, The Black Diamond Detective Agency and French-Canadian Guy Delisle's Pyongyang, which was fabulous, funny /sad and a truly eye-popping peep at the weirdness of life in North Korea. Guy, Eddie and I will all be on a panel together at the Brisbane Writers Festival... I am pretty thrilled to be in such illustrious company.

One of the things that really grabbed me about Pyongyang was that Mr Delisle must surely take the prize for using the fewest possible lines to create incredibly relateable (and funny) facial expressions. I laughed out loud quite a few times, and was irresistibly carried along on the character's strange travels.

Mr Campbell has very kindly written a piece about Gatsby on his blog today, and it seems that he shares my passion for bizarre-looking monsters. But then - what's not to love about monsters?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Upcoming events for Gatsby, writers festivals and new projects...

Now that the launch of The Great Gatsby graphic novel is just a few weeks away, it seems like a good time to start the blog ball rolling. For more info on this enormous project, check out this page.

Upcoming events include:

  • Melbourne Writers Festival (Schools Program) - 27 and 29 August 2007 - presenting with Shaun Tan and with Eddie Campbell
  • Launch of The Great Gatsby - 6 September 2007
  • Brisbane Writers Festival 12 to 16 September 2007 - various presentations
  • This Is Not Art - Young Writers Festival (Newcastle) 27 to 1 October 2007 - program

On a more personal note, something that made me do somersaults of joy (figuratively speaking): last week I received a beautiful card from a member of F. Scott Fitzgerald's family, saying lovely things about the book in general, and in particular about my interpretation of Daisy. Hard to describe how thrilling this is for me. Daisy is my favourite character, of course. And I'm just so glad that my adaptation was seen to be a fitting tribute to the original novel.

Meanwhile, work continues on the equally enormous Hamlet adaptation. Not quite ready to be posting images online, but I'm 90 pages into the roughs, and enjoying it a great deal.

Recently, friends have been pointing me in the direction of other comic art adaptations of Shakespeare, which is fascinating. Each one that I've seen so far has taken a completely different approach, and I'm happy to say that mine will be very different again. The one that excites me most is King Lear, adapted and illustrated by Ian Pollock - I'm eagerly awaiting my copy purchased on e-Bay. It looks spectacular - surreal and grotesque and beautifully coloured. So, thank you to Eddie Campbell (check out his excellent blog) who put me onto this book, and to Publicist Extraordinaire Renee Senogles who just sent me an Australian adaptation of MacBeth.

And up the top of this post is a little image to go on with - something I painted with Hamlet in mind. The idea here is to suggest Tiffany glass, Gaudi's trencadis (broken) tilework and big, imposing Norman pillars and arches. A weird mixture, I think.