Q&A with Paul Pope, 2013 Miami Book Fair Author and Poster Artist
Paul Pope is a two-time Eisner-award winner with an international reputation as an artist and designer. His iconic Batman: Year 100, a science-fiction take on the classic Batman origin tale, has won numerous awards, seen print in many languages, and appears frequently on many Top 10 Batman story lists. In 2010, Pope was recognized as a Master Artist by the American Council of the Arts. His 2010, short science fiction comic strip Strange Adventures — an homage to the Flash Gordon serials of the ’30s — won the coveted National Cartoonist Society’s Reuben Award for Best Comic Book of the year. His latest project is Battling Boy, a book length epic featuring a young superhero.
Paul Pope created the original artwork for one of the two 2013 Miami Book Fair posters. Highlighting Generation Genius Days at the Fair, when programming for children and teens draws 20,000 youngsters, Pope’s image captures the power of imagination as experienced through reading.
What do you like best about being a writer?
I write some prose and editorial essays, although most of my output is in comics or the graphic novel, so when we say “writer”, it would probably mean “artist/writer” in my case—I use words and pictures together to tell a story. As an artist/writer, I like being able to evoke thoughts and feelings which are often too complex or complicated to simply say or demonstrate using conversational, casual speech, and seeing those idea-transmissions picked up by others. Writing to me exorcizes old demons and invents new landscapes.
How do you decide what to write about?
I tend to recognize the ideas or situations or images I grow obsessive about, the abstractions I keep thinking about over and over. I like to write about those things, to put them somewhere, to make them concrete. To give them somewhere to live other than your own imagination. I also think it’s true that writers tend to write what they themselves want to read.
Which do you think are the three most important elements of a good book?
I would tend to think a story is successful when the plot and theme are united, which tends to unify the other elements. I think it is important to evoke believable characters who act in a way which seems natural and advances the story. I also read for what Orwell called “fresh metaphors”— I am a fan of writer and artists with strong styles (JM Coetzee comes to mind, his book Waiting For The Barbarians is a personal favorite), so I would say having a unique a distinct literary voice is another crucial component.
What does it mean to you to be part of the 30th anniversary of the Miami Book Fair International?
Outside of loving Miami for its beaches and food and architecture, it’s a part of the country where I have never professionally appeared before, so it’s all new faces to me. I’m in the fortunate position to be one of those cartoonists who is able to further promote the graphic novel to a wider audience, and so it is an honor to be invited to be a guest at one of the biggest book festivals in the country. Although Battling Boy is nominally a story for young adults, it functions as what CS Lewis called a “simple story”, which means it doesn’t write down to children and it doesn’t alienate an adult reader. It’s new comics energy.
Note: Miami Book Fair International will unveil the 2013 posters on Friday, September 20, during a celebration at the Freedom Tower, Miami Dade College, Wolfson Campus, Downtown Miami.
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