Welcome back to our countdown to the Small Press Expo (SPX), where we take a look at a number of indy creators who’ll be featured at this show! This time out, we take a look at a retrospective by one of comics’ most unique artists and creators.
It’s a good week to be a fan of artist Farel Dalrymple. At SPX, you’ll be able to check out Delusional, a 232-page compilation of comic stories and illustrationsfrom throughout Dalrymple’s career presented by AdHouse Books. Combining cartoony figures with surreal, dreamlike stories and imagery, it’s a great look at Dalrymple’s work for those who know his material from such works as Omega the Unknown with Jonathan Lethem at Marvel Comics, or his recurring art in Image’s Prophet.
Dalrymple spoke with us about what to expect from Delusional, his Eisner-nominated webcomic It Will All Hurt, and a major announcement about Wrenchies, the long-awaited full-color graphic novel he’s been working on for First Second.
Nrama: Farel, tell us a bit about Delusional.
Farel Dalrymple: It is a collection of comics and art by me that has been previouslypublished or displayed on the Internet. The book is being published by AdHouse Books.
Nrama:How did this collection come about?
Dalrymple: Chris Pitzer emailed and asked if I had some work he could have his finecompany publish. I have wanted to do a sketchbook, art book, and collection of my random anthology comics work for a while now. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to have all three in one.
Nrama: What was it like looking over your body of work for this collection? How do you feel you've evolved as an artist and overall creator since the earliest works contained here?
Dalrymple: It was a little frustrating organizing all of it. There was so muchstuff that the book could have been twice the size. I had to ask for a lot of help from Pitzer and my special lady to figure out what to get rid of. Some of the older stuff, especially the comics, you can tell isn’t as skilled or refined as the more recent stuff, but in some ways Ifeel like I have gotten more generic or juvenile or something with my art. It will be nice to see the finished printed product to see all those pages together.
Nrama: For that matter, did you discover any recurring themes or ideas in the work that you might not have noticed before?
Dalrymple: I don’t know if I hadn’t noticed them before, but yeah, there are a lot of recurring themes in my work – childhood, loneliness, paranoia and perception. I noticed that I draw a lot kids holding swords.
Nrama:What's it been like working with AdHouse on this?
Dalrymple: Great. I think Chris did a smashing job laying out and designing thewhole package. I have liked that guy and been a fan of his company’s books since first meeting him at SPX or TCAF years ago. It is nice being in such good company as some of my favorite artists like Jim
Rugg, James Jean, and Paul Pope.
Nrama:The pieces in this come from all over the place -- what's probably the most obscure/least-seen piece in here?
Dalrymple: Maybe a Smith and Orson pirate story that has been printed beforetwice in a limited manner, but never in its entirety. There are also a few of my Supermundane strips that has only been on the Meathaus website until now.
Nrama: Dangit, how soon 'til we get Wrenchies?! Remember, constant nagging causes things to happen, and now that Paul Pope finally has Battling Boy coming out, the pressure's all on you.
Dalrymple: Thanks for asking about that. I just finished drawing The Wrenchies today, as a matter of fact. My editor says it will be a year until it is published, so like fall 2014 it hits the street. Feels good to be wrapping it up. I think I have been working on like five years. Don't know what people will make of it. It is a weird book, and some of the art is hard for me to look at now, but I think the story is pretty solid to me.
Nrama: All right, so we're getting all our SPX interviewees to tell us about some of the books they’re looking forward to picking up at the show, or creators they're looking forward to seeing. Who's on your list?
Dalrymple: Good question. I am usually so out of the loop most shows I always seethe books I should have got after the show is over. I just checked out the SPX debut books list andsaw there are going to be some good ones like Ed Piskor’s Hip HopFamily Tree(I did a pin up in that one); Paul Hornschemeier‘s new comic Bygone #1, Blindspot #3 by Joseph Remnant, Eik by M. R. Trower, The Listening Agentby Joe Decie, Vs. byAlexis Sottile and Joe Infurnari, Frontier #2: Hellen Jo. Love Helen Jo's work.
There seemed to be a bunch of other interesting books on there too, these were just the ones that jumped out at me. I think my pals Jasen Lex and Jim Rugg might have some stuff there too. I always like whatever they are doing.
Nrama: And what's fun about a show like SPX?
Dalrymple: Getting to see a lot of old friends. Getting inspired by all the newcomics coming out.
Nrama:What are some other comics and creators you're currently enjoying?
Dalrymple: Tom Herpich’s White Clay, Sunny by Taiyo Matsumoto, Susceptible byGeneviève Castrée, I like the work of Conner Willumson, Brandon Graham, Blutch, Noah Van Sciver, and Sammy Harkham. Then there is Katsuihiro Otomo and good ol’ Moebius, of course, to name only a few of the many.
Nrama: What's next for you?
Dalrymple: Gonna try to get another issue of It Will All Hurt done by Emerald City Comicon. I’m starting work again on the next Pop Gun War book.I am going to try to have that finished in 2014 sometimes. And I have about 14 pages left to go on a 60-page story I am drawing for MK Reed via Tugboat Press. The same team that produced a full-color six-page print set that will be available at the show.
I am also going to start work soon on a story for Chris Stevens called“The Ear Farmer” for Dark Horse Presents.
Nrama:Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
Dalrymple: Just to remind people at SPX I will have available for purchaseDelusional from AdHouse books, That aforementioned Pangs print set by Tugboat Press, and It Will All Hurt Issue # 1 at the Study Group/Press Gang table.
A few weeks after SPX on the 5th October I will be in Philadelphia for the Locust Moon Comics Fest and in NYC the following weekend for the NYCC and to meet with my publisher, First Second for Wrenchies business.
Although I am not sure how that NYCC is going to work out for me – apparently if you don’t have a table, which are pretty expensive, professionals can only get in on Thursday for free.
I’d like to do a singing or something while I am in New York. Maybe Iwill hit up one of the comics shops in town? Once it gets closer and I am completely done with The Wrenchies I can spend some time working on that stuff.
Check out Delusional at SPX – or order it from AdHouse Books.
Next: It’s the Boxer Rebellion from both sides with Gene Luen Yang and Boxers & Saints!