Saturday, February 16, 2019

I'm back!

Hey, a new post! Been awhile. Over two years.

I dunno, I just got away from blogging. Concentrated on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. But Facebook has become ever more evil and I’m pretty rotten at Twitter, frankly, and seem incapable of improving… so here I am, back at the blog.  Starting over from scratch after all my followers here wandered off. Typical.

Anybody still out there? Hellooooooooo?

So, yeah, the past two years have been pretty interesting. Had the whole movie rollout, which was an experience I never dreamt would happen. Spent the better part of 2017 traveling and promoting the film, coupled with a heavy comics fest schedule. Too much, really. Got a little carried away with all of it and that threw me behind schedule.

The plan was to finish up The Baron of Prospect Ave. and then start on my new book for Abrams, but I ran out of time. So I had to shelve the Baron and start the new book. No, it hasn’t been announced what it is yet. Soon, I’m told. 250 pages, my biggest book yet. It’ll be out in February 2020. I’m over halfway done with the inks and working hard. 

After that one is in the can come September, I’ll just keep slamming and finish the Baron, hopefully by the time the other one hits the stands, so the Baron will be ready to go as soon as contractually allowed. That’ll cut down on the time between books.

It’s kind of nice, after the media blitz of the last few years, to take a breather from interviews and promotion. My Google Alert hardly ever goes off now. That’s the life of an author. Blasts of coverage when a new book (or film) comes out, then nothing. 

Here’s some shit that happened since last I posted:

April 2017: The Tribecka Film Fest and the premier of My Friend Dahmer! I'm the very uncomfortable looking dude at the right. Waaaaaaay out of my element.

Here's a review of the film if you missed it. You can currently watch it on Amazon prime. I imagine it'll hit the streaming channels soon.

May 2017: Appearing on a popular Swedish tv program while guesting at the Stockholm Comics Festival. Great fun, beautiful city. I usually turn down tv, looking as I do like the love child of Joey Ramone and Herman Munster, but it was a great show about literature, don't let the game show set fool you.

September 2017: Back in France for a book tour and the premiere of the film at the Deauxville Film Festival. Here's one of the many interviews I did. The whole experience was surreal. I had autograph hounds run after me on the streets! Why, I don't know. And they put us up in this stunning 5-star hotel right on the beach. The difference between indie film and indie comics is stark, man!

October 2017: The CXC Festival in Columbus, Ohio. If I get to the end of my life and have to pick a moment to serve as my highlight, I can't imagine one will top this.

I was a feature guest this year. This fest started in 2016 and is fabulous. It's centered around the Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum at Ohio State University. I'm an Ohio State guy, as many of you know. It's where I got my start as a cartoonist. The fest did a screening of the film, at the Wexner Center for the Arts on campus, followed by a Q&A with yours truly. When tickets went up in the summer, the house sold out in 10 minutes! The waiting list was longer than available seats in the Wex Theater!

Now, I usually don't watch the film. This evening, Jenny Robb, head curator at the Billy took my wife and I out to dinner. We returned  in time for the final credits. I was standing in the back of the room and when the credit "based on the graphic novel by Derf Backderf" flashed, the place erupted in a roar. You can imagine the goosebumps that danced on my skin. I took the stage to thunderous applause and tried not to burst into tears. To have this happen at Ohio State, where it all began, yeah, that was my moment.

Here's a cover I drew for the Miami New Times, once one of my many client papers,  back when I was drawing The City, before the newspaper apocalypse, and before I found my way to graphic novels.

I didn't actually draw the cover here, I drew the cover story inside, an annual wrap up of the worst people who live in Florida, which as you can imagine is a HIGH bar, especially this year. The editors liked it so much they had the art director make it into a cover. I've done this Dirty Dozen story for a decade at least. It's my last weekly paper freelance client. It's a fun assignment and I do it for nostalgia's sake as much as anything. There was a time when I drew a cover a month for some weekly or another. This is likely the last one I'll ever do.

A month later, the art director got laid off. That's the sorry state of weeklies now. Breaks my heart.

January 2018: The Angoulême Festival again, my 5th straight! Here I'm at a live drawing event in the SNCF Pavilion with colleague Marcello Quintanilla, a brilliant Brazilian creator. SNCF is the national train service. That's right, in France, they even sell comics on the trains!

Here's a crazy sketch interview I did in Angoulême this year, having had not nearly enough coffee. The festival is fun, but man we work hard. Six or seven hours of signings a day, and Europeans expect a dedicace, a tight title page drawing. My hand is throbbing by the end of the day. 

I lost a couple friends this year. One was the fabulous Ralph Carney, an extraordinary musician who mesmerized me in the Akron punk era, then went on to play with the B-52s, Tom Waits, Orang Symphonette and, of course, had a long, acclaimed solo career. He died in a freak accident.  I was lucky enough to draw the cover for his final two releases, including this one with fellow Akron legend Chris Butler, which was released a few months  after Ralph's death. Available HERE

I also lost my old pal Doug. We were best friends in junior high, above, me on the left, Doug on the right. Doug was a comics fiend, too, the only teenage friend who was, and ours was a journey of mutual discovery. Together we found Spain Rodriguez, Will Eisner, Richard Corben, Moebius, Gahan Wilson, all of whom would inspire me greatly in my own art and storytelling. We read comics together, we drew comics together, hour after hour. For a few short years, he was as close a compatriot as I've had in my life.

He moved away in high school and we lost touch. Eventually, he discovered my work and tracked me down and we re-connected, enjoying many online chats about comics, picking up right where we left off at age 15. The last message I received from him was one about Ralph Reese, the great war comics artist. Doug died of a heart attack the next day.

Safe travels, pal. I'll miss you.

The final two volumes of True Stories was published, making four in all, and putting a nice period on my long comic strip career. You can get them all on the dreaded Amazon HERE

French readers will get them all in one volume, due in Spring 2019! HERE

Mainly 2018 was a year of work. I have a new book with Abrams in the pipeline. Just hit the halfway mark with inked pages. I can't reveal what it is yet, but it's my largest and most ambitious yet. In fact, as I write, this bastard is kicking the crap out of me. 2019 will be a year of even MORE intense work. It'll be released, as I wrote earlier, February 2020.

November 2018: Wrapping up another busy year at the Genghis Con Fest here in Cleveland, as is my tradition. And... wrapping up this part of my career.

I've decided to stop tabling. It's been loads of fun over the past 10 years since Punk Rock & Trailer Parks kicked off my graphic novel career, but hauling 1000 lbs. of books in and out of venues and manning a table for 10 hours a day is just taking too much out of me. I'll still guest at cons and do some signings, if others run those signings and haul the books, but my days as a road warrior have ended.

And that's what I've been up to!