From the Ashes, by Bob FingermanIDW's From the Ashes is out in stores this week, and it’s something a little different, even for fans of Bob Fingerman.
This "speculative memoir" of Fingerman (Beg the Question, Recess Pieces) chronicles the journey of he and his wife Michele after nuclear apocalypse hits the country. While he has been busy promoting his book, Fingerman was kind enough to take a few questions from Newsarama.
Newsarama: Bob, to start this off, what brought this project into being? It's been tagged as "The Road -- only funny," but what sparked this idea for you.
Bob Fingerman: Yeah, I said that off the top of my head. It’s classic marketing high-concept speak. I still need to read Mr. McCarthy’s novel, but I love/hate those glib comparisons. Lots of things sparked the idea. The tsunami of memoirs out there, both in comics and prose. The last eight unbearable years of Bush/Cheney, et al. My love of post-apocalyptic entertainment (which is equal or greater to my zeal for zombie fare). I also wanted to feature my wife in my work, finally. She’s made cameos but never got her fifteen minutes. She’s earned it (though some might argue being featured in a post-apocalyptic comic series is an odd way to show affection).
NRAMA: And jumping off of that, this idea of the speculative memoir. It's an interesting idea, and I wanted to ask what made you take From the Ashes: in that direction? Were there any influences (from comics or otherwise) that pushed you in that direction?
BF: Not really. It was more a reaction against than a reaction to memoirs in general. I thought it was so limiting to do what’s already happened to you. Why not speculate and have fun with it? I love speculative fiction, so why not speculative nonfiction? It’s absurd enough a concept to float my boat. It was a new toy to play with. I hope I get to do more. I’d love to do a sequel series. There’s more to explore in the wastelands of the improbable future.
NRAMA: From what I've seen on your web site, you seem to dig a little bit of viscera in your work, like Recess Pieces and Bottomfeeder. From the Ashes: seems a bit more... romantic. With this difference in tone, how is it different for you putting all this together?
BF: I love my wife. I had to behave, though, because in addition to liking to lavish attention of gore I also am known for explicit carnality. I totally curbed that in this, partly because Michele’s one edict/precondition for featuring her in From the Ashes was, “don’t draw me naked or us having sex!” It was very good, because I behaved. Some retailers have been shy about ordering my work because it’s been a bit, um, blue for them. This should pass muster. I don’t really like repeating myself. I wanted to try something new, and a little romance seemed like a nice place to start. But with mutants and the living dead and some cannibalism in it, so I haven’t completely curbed my instincts.
NRAMA: Since your wife Michele is in it... what does she think about the project? About your rendition of her?
BF: She’s very happy with my depiction of her, both in appearance and temperament. She loves it, but then again she’s a bit biased.
NRAMA: If there's any particular theme in this book, what do you think that is? I've read the first issue as a bit of a love letter to your wife, but I'm curious if there's a particular direction or epiphany to this speculative story between you and Michele.
BF: Things get progressively more fucked up as the story proceeds. The first issue is the setup, but after that things get hairier and hairier. I don’t want to give too much away, but it would lay kind of flat if she and I were the only ones left. The more survivors I add to the mix, the more things come unglued. The scope of the story and situation expand. Some topical figures are satirized. I’ll leave it at that, for now.
NRAMA: I read your story on The Huffington Post, and there also seems to be a distinct political vibe to all this (like right wing pundit Rile O'Biley). Don't be shy -- what are your thoughts on politics, the media, and this sort of celebrity merger of the two? Let it all hang out.
BF: The mainstream media is pretty bad, in general. I mean, yeah. “Rile O’Biley” does show up, though in what capacity I won’t say at this time. But he’s important to the story. My feelings about politics these days are pretty good. I like Obama. I don’t deify him like some do. He’s a man, not a god and he’s first and foremost a politician. That said, for the first time in eight-plus years I feel good about the president and though things are rough right now, there’s at least the possibility for things improving. If McCain had won I think I’d have stuck my head in the oven. Palin’s wideband stupidity really shook me up. I was so dispirited by all those years of Bush I thought she’d maybe sway the election in McCain’s favor. The world’s a scary fucking place. But just as there’s room for things to get worse, there’s the possibility of things getting better. These days I choose the latter, so that’s a step in the right direction.
NRAMA: What would you say has been the hardest part about this project for you? Or how about the most rewarding part?
BF: It hasn’t been hard. I enjoyed every second of doing it. It’s been the most fun I ever had doing a comic. Generally when I complete something I am eager to get on with something totally different. I want to do more with this. I hope I get to.
NRAMA: Finally -- is there anything else readers should know about this project?
BF: They should know that unless I’ve badly miscalculated, there should be a lot of laughs in store for them. And hopefully some real surprises.
Click here for Fingerman's From the Ashes blog.