He took some great photos, including one of Martha Burns and me. I was thrilled that she was willing to play a set of Carter Family tunes...
Belatedly, I want to thank everyone who came out to see me (in the horrible DC-area traffic), including classmates from elementary school to college, and my Aunt Bev and Uncle Mark! Thanks to Greg Bennet for hosting at his lovely Big Planet Comics Bethesda store!
(Trivia: The store is located just a few blocks from where the Red Fox Inn, a historic bluegrass venue, was once located. Martha and I stopped to look at the spot afterwards, now called Positano Ristorante Italiano. I took a moment to remember autoharp master Ron Penix, who had played at the Red Fox, and who had recently passed away.)
We're delighted and excited to be a part of the newest installment in this venerable series of books. Critics are already raving about this 2014 edition. Paul Constant of The Stranger has said: "...I find myself declaring to you that The Best American Comics 2014 is the best edition of The Best American Comics to ever be published." He adds:
The end result is a book you can hand anyone as an overview of where comics are as an art form in the year 2014. In fact, I may even take my earlier hypocritical claim one step further and call this the best book I've ever read in the whole Best American series. It's informative, funny, surprising, and a satisfying reading experience on its own. This should be the book that every Best American guest editor aspires to emulate in years to come.
Click HERE to read a witty and informative interview of Scott McCloud by the Washington Post's Scott Cavna.
Bill Kartalopoulos, the series editor for this project, discusses his work on the anthologies in THIS INTERVIEW. These books are invaluable for making the more adventurous byroads of comics art accessible to the average reader--the person or persons who would blanch at the thought of entering a typical comic book shop, but who might peruse this book in the more dignified setting of a bookstore or library.
An unusual chapter from the Carter Family graphic novel was chosen for this book. "The Program is Morally Good" (pp. 79-83 in the GN) attempts to capture the atmosphere of the original Carter Family in live performance. It was one of many challenging moments in which David Lasky and I had the task of bringing the feeling of music to the silent printed (and drawn) page.
I enjoyed coloring this sequence, as it gave me several different lighting sources to influence my palette--from the pale pre-dawn that opens the chapter to the claustrophobic, humid lamplit scenes of the Carters in concert. David's atmosphere of the performance panels really brings this interlude to life. We're just one facet of this book, which features sequences from Chris Ware's blockbuster Building Stories, Ben Katchor, Charles Burns, R. Crumb and Aline Kominsky, Adrian Tomine, Tom Hart, Ron Rege Jr., The Hernandez Brothers and many other notables. It's a great honor to be in such esteemed comics company. David and I encourage you to check out this new volume, which will give you a strong taster of what's going on in the diverse, challenging and enriching world of today's comics and graphic novels.
Many people look at the credits to the book: “by Frank M.
Young and David Lasky” and assume that Frank wrote the story and I did
everything else.The real story of how
the graphic novel came to be is so much more complicated that I think it
deserves an explanation here.
Frank and I had a very evenly divided partnership, which is
a little unusual for comics, where often the writer turns in a script and
leaves the artists to do the larger share of the labor.Because I have writing skills, we co-plotted
the story (which was based on real life events) and created a
chapter-by-chapter outline together. Because Frank has drawing and computer
graphics skills, he was able to draw half the thumbnails with me, and color the
entire book (except for a handful of pages I colored, based on Frank’s guides,
and a few that Jim Gill colored).Frank’s
coloring, which evokes 1930s comic strips, does so much to enliven and unify
the pages, I considered it the most important visual element in the book.
I drew the print-sized rough draft of the book (with Frank
helping out on a chapter), and at the same time, Frank began to write dialogue
based on how much space was available. Frank would later go back and revise all
of the dialogue. In the thumbnail and rough stages, we also did a lot of
editing together, to make sure the story moved along at a good pace and had all
the information we wanted to include.
When the whole book was roughed out, I then penciled and
inked all of the oversized finished art (with help on many of the pages from
background inkers Sean Michael Robinson and Carl Nelson, with additional
support from Tom Dougherty, Dalton Webb, and Vince Aparo).As soon as I would finish inking a batch of
pages, Frank would scan and color them. He would also lay out the pages and add
my letters to the word ballons in InDesign.From there, the fantastic design team at Abrams ComicArts prepared the
pages to go to press. Our editor, Charles Kochman, who was checking in with us
over the course of the project, gave the text a thorough edit before it went to
Because this was a historical book, we both did research,
often at the same time as the book was being written and drawn.Historical facts had to be checked for
accuracy.Visual elements had to look
right for the era being depicted. At one time, Frank had worked as a
journalist, and brought those skills to the book, conducting several phone
interviews with scholars and relatives of the Carters and Peers. We also
managed to track down some important archival interviews.My friend Susan spent a weekend researching
at an archive in Chapel Hill, NC for us. And in one crucial act of research,
Frank tracked down some public domain sheet music that allowed us to use a good
portion of lyrics that were important to the story -- without fear of copyright
There was no easy way to say who did what, which is why you
see the simple credit: “by Frank M. Young and David Lasky.” It was a true
collaboration, where we accomplished something that neither of us could have
done on our own.
THIS LINK will take you to La Pasteque's page announcing the imminent publication of their French-language version of Don't Forget This Song, our Eisner-winning graphic novel on the Carter Family!
David and I are curious how the book's rural dialects will parse into the French language. We hope this book will reach a wider audience, as people are more hep to good comics in France than they are in the U.S.
We're delighted with the news of this French version. Unfortunately, their webpage only has one very small interior page. It appears to have its dialogue in French.
I assume we'll get some copies of this edition. When that happens, we'll reproduce some pages here! More news soon...
Jamie Smith reads his copy of "Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song" at The Comic Shop of Fairbanks, AK. Thanks to The Comics Shop for making sure the book is available in Alaska, and thanks to Jamie, who is a cartoonist himself, for purchasing a copy (and providing this photo)!
On a related note: If your local shop is having trouble ordering "Carter Family", I am told that Tony Shenton is a distributor who can get Abrams ComicsArts books to stores without a problem... http://shenton4sales.tumblr.com/Abrams