When the Past is a Present will make it's world premiere at this April's New York Comic Con.This is very exciting for me, as I think this book represents probably the best work I've ever done. It was very pleasurable getting my advance copies, and thumbing through the pages. Ask any artist, and they'll tell you that that is the kind of experience you always want, but rarely get. More often than not, all the creator of a particular work is able to see is the struggle and the failings. Now, to be sure, I see the struggle all over WTPIAP, but it seems somehow less prominent than usual, and that feels great.
So, what I thought I'd do over the next few postings, is go over the book chapter by chapter and talk a little bit about what went into creating the individual stories, as well as the concept for the book as a whole.
See, the thing is, I don't very often sit around thinking; "Man, I just gotta do a great Little Lulu style comic." Or, "Gosh, what would Len Wein do in a situation like this." Even though I like both Little Lulu and Len Wein quite a bit, I'm far more likely to be inspired by something from a different medium entirely. Like music, for example. There must be 4 or 5 issues of Shades of Gray where I was trying to capture the feel of Strawberry Fields Forever in comic book form. Now, when I started planning the stories which make up WTPIAP, I was just coming off a massive writer's block which lasted for months. Up until this point, I didn't really believe such a thing existed, as I had never experienced it before. But having gone through it, I didn't want the same thing to happen while working on Volume 4. The solution I came up with was to go back to writing short stories. But I was afraid this would become a retreat, that I would just be doing easy jokes and stories I could write in my sleep as a means to avoid failure. What I needed was a template. A piece of art that was somehow both reflective and comfortable, but also radical and forward thinking. That was when I rediscovered a wonderful piece of music; 1996's New Adventures in Hi-Fi by the rock band R.E.M.
Check back tomorrow, and I'll explain how you go from listening to "Electrolite" to writing "Funny Story."