Graphic Memoir Posts

“Hey Kiddo!”

Writer and illustrator of children’s books Jarrett J. Krosoczka‘s graphic memoir Hey, Kiddo is as the sub-title describes “How I lost my mother, found my father, and dealt with family addiction” . As he said in a TED Talk recorded in Oct 2012 that he uses his “imagination for his day time job”. He tells stories with words and pictures. Sometimes he lets the words tell the story and sometimes he lets the illustrations to do the work. He has always loved to draw. His mother was a talented artist too. Unfortunately he did not know her very well as she was a heroin addict and lived most of her life either in jail or in care. His father was faceless and unknown to him till they met when Jarrett was 17 and discovered he had half-siblings. Jarrett K. Krosoczka was formally adopted by his maternal grandparents when he was three years old.

When he was in the third grade, a real author came to the school for an interaction during the school assembly. It was Jack Gantos of the Rotten Ralph series. Jarrett was over the moon with joy. Then the artist came to the classroom and walked around to see what the students were drawing. Looking over young Jarrett’s shoulder, Jack Gantos said “Nice cat”. It was a significant moment for the child as an established author appreciated his art work.

Hey, Kiddo is a mix of traditional graphic storyboards along with paste-ups of Jarrett’s memorabilia. It is painted mostly in tones of grey and orangeish-red with little else colour. The only splash of brightness is in the green and yellow checked shirt of the boy on the cover. This little detail stands out for the glossy finish to the character. Otherwise the book has fragments of the loving letters his mother wrote her son from prison and were preserved by Jarrett’s grandparents. There are pictures of Jarrett with his mother holding her newborn son. There are clippings of his grandparent’s notes to him. There are snippets of the first book he ever wrote for children while in third grade called The Own Who Thought He Was The Best Flyer.

This graphic memoir explores a space of writing for young adults that is tricky as it shares family secrets like a mother who is a drug addict and an absentee father. It is about a family that would probably be termed as “dysfunctional” for not conforming to the socially acceptable norms of a “normal family”. As Jarrett admits in the book he had two incredible parents except that they were one generation removed. On the one hand the author is sharing very personal moments in his upbringing and on the other he has to ensure through his art that the takeaway young readers get from Hey, Kiddo is that they are not alone if they belong to dysfunctional families. Also it is hopefully empowering such readers that it is important to find a way to live, perhaps find a hobby, a passion that you love and stick to it determinedly. In Jarrett’s case it was his love for drawing. This is a confidence building measure that is equally important as holding up a mirror to one’s own experiences as it helps the reader feel he/she is fully in charge of at least one aspect of their life. Truth is always stranger than fiction.

Hey, Kiddo is a graphic memoir that has understandably been shortlisted for many awards and has been a part of innumerable “Best of 2018 Reads” lists for while it focusses on a child/adult who is flawed, it only makes him human — someone the readers can relate to. The book presents the tough childhood Jarrett had or even the difficulties his grandparents had and yet in their eighties they bravely took on a little boy to care for, although they had already brought up five of their own. Yet what shines through Hey, Kiddo is that despite the straitened circumstances, Jarrett was showered with love. He was not necessarily in want. His grandparents recognising his love for art were as heartbroken as their grandson when the public funding for the art classes dried up. So they put their pennies together, a tough decision for self-made man like his grandfather, and enrolled Jarrett into art classes at Worcester Art Museum— and Jarrett blossomed. For his fourteenth birthday they bought him a drafting board. That night Jarrett had a Chinese dinner with his grandparents. On the top hand right corner of the drafting board is pasted the message he received in the fortune cookie that he ate that night — “You will be successful in your work”. Decades later Jarrett continues to use the same drafting board!

Hey, Kiddo is an extraordinary memoir meant for readers of all ages. It is a bittersweet reading experience with a happy ending — full of hope and joy!

From Jarrett J.Krosoczka’s website header. The pile of books he has published.

27 February 2019

Garth Greenwell, “What Belongs to You”

Garth Greenwell…more and more I took refuge in books, not serious or significant books but books that offered an escape from myself, and it was these books, or rather our shared love for them, that bound me to the few friends I had… 

Garth Greenwell’s debut novel What Belongs to You is about a nameless American schoolteacher who is based in Bulgaria. Funnily enough even though the narrator remains nameless the two cultural landscapes that influence him are very much fixed in a period —the Republican conservative homophobic Kansas and Bulgaria emerging from the Soviet era, detritus of which are still visible in the dilapidated buildings and in the attitude of the people. The novel is divided into three parts — Mitko, A Grave and Pox. In fact “Mitko” won the Miami University Press Novella Prize. What Belongs to You begins with the narrator looking to have sex and comes across Mitko in a public bathroom and from then on they forge a curious relationship. The second section is about the narrator receiving news about his father’s hospitalisation and the flood of memories it unleashes. The final section is about his mother’s arrival in Bulgaria and due to a concatenation of events primarily the fleeting return of Mitko in the narrator’s life, there is a sudden unyoking of himself from his past–immediate and childhood. It is an epiphany that liberates him paradoxically leaving him in despair too. It seems to happen subconsciously while recalling his experience of a severe earthquake.

…the first time I had known that absolute disorientation and helplessness, the first time I had felt in that incontrovertible way the minuteness of my will, so that underlying my fear, or coming just an instant after it, was total abandon, a feeling that wasn’t entirely unpleasant, a kind of weightlessness. 

At Jaipur Literature Festival 2016, Colm Toibin said while researching for The Master, his novel/tribute on/to Henry James, he realised gay fiction was a 21st century phenomenon. He also observed that “fiction contains many mansions” a comment apt for Garth Greenwell’s debut novel. What Belongs to You is much more than a fine example of gay fiction with its extraordinarily bold voice; it is a Künstlerroman, a narrative about the artist’s growth to maturity. What Belongs to You is in the same category as James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man or even Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, Fun Home. It is evident in the experimentation of form in “A Grave” such as the long unbroken paragraphs sometimes running on for pages and pages that fit snugly with the literary device of interior monologue. The lyrical prose of “A Grave” is structured as magnificently as Isabel Archer’s reflection in Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady.  In both novels the interior monologues by the central characters are pivotal not only to the structure of the plot but also to the radical transformation they wrought in the narrator and Isabel and to the chain of events to follow.

At one level What Belongs to You is reading a story about a young man living in a new land and yet it is also recognising what belongs to you are who you are, what you make yourself. This could be by rejection such as the narrator’s complicated relationship with his father or by accepting new influences as the narrator says by “thinking it half in Bulgarian and half in my own language, which I returned to as if stepping onto more solid ground.”

One of the best interviews published so far with Garth Greenwell has been with Paul McVeigh. “The world according to Garth Greenwell” (The Irish Times, 25 April 2016. http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/the-world-according-to-garth-greenwell-1.2623753)

Garth Greenwell is a boldly confident youthful writer who writes extraordinarily beautiful prose with panache. Hopefully one day the following writers will be together on a panel discussing the art of blending truth and fiction, writing a memoir-novel: Damian Barr, Paul McVeigh, Sandip Roy, Roxane Gay, Garth Greenwell and Alison Bechdel.

What Belongs to You is a debut that will be talked about for a long time to come!

Garth Greenwell What Belongs To You Picador, an imprint of Pan Macmillan, London, 2016. Hb. pp. 196. Rs 550

18 May 2016

 

Press Release: SIMON & SCHUSTER UK TO PUBLISH STAN LEE GRAPHIC MEMOIR

Simon and Schuster Logo

SIMON & SCHUSTER UK TO PUBLISH STAN LEE GRAPHIC MEMOIR

May 21, 2015—POW! Entertainment’s Stan Lee, the legendary creator who helped spawn some of the world’s most popular comic book heroes – The Amazing Spider-Man™, The Fantastic Four™, The X-Men™, Iron Man™, The Incredible Hulk™, and many more – is teaming up with Simon & Schuster UK and Touchstone on his first-ever graphic memoir AMAZING FANTASTIC INCREDIBLE: A Marvelous Memoir, which will be published on October 6, 2015. A simultaneous audio edition will be published by Simon & Schuster Audio. S&S UK will also publish a deluxe slipcase ‎edition.

In this unique, richly illustrated book, Lee tells the story of his extraordinary life with the same inimitable energy and offbeat spirit that he brought to the world of comics. The full-colour graphic memoir will recount his life’s major flashpoints, from his hardscrabble upbringing in Washington Heights, New York to his rise as the lead writer and editor-in-chief at Marvel Comics during its most prolific era in the 1960s and 70s. From the very beginning, working with the great Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, to creating Spider-Man with Steve Ditko, to his most recent cameo in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” fans will read about every aspect of Lee’s remarkable career.  AMAZING FANTASTIC INCREDIBLE will be illustrated by celebrated comic book artist Colleen Doran, whom Stan Lee handpicked for this one-of-a-kind project.

“As Marvel just celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary, I thought maybe it’s time for a look at my life in the one form it has never been depicted, as a comic book…or if you prefer, a graphic memoir,” said Stan Lee. “It strikes me as a horrendous oversight that I haven’t done it before! If I didn’t know everything about my life already, I’d envy your voyage of discovery!”

Stan Lee is a man who needs no introduction. Nevertheless: having begun his career with wartime Timely Comics and staying the course throughout the Atlas era, Stan Lee made comic book history with Fantastic Four #1, harbinger of a bold new perspective in story writing that endures to this day. With some of the industry’s greatest artists, he introduced hero after hero in Incredible Hulk™, Iron Man™, Amazing Spider-Man™, X-Men™, and more, forming a shared universe for rival publishers to measure themselves against.

After nearly a lifetime of writing and editing, Lee is now involved in an array of new projects with his company POW! Entertainment. Based in Beverly Hills, POW! Entertainment has been amassing a library of new characters, some already set up at studios and networks, including an animated series, mobile game, the first young adult novel with illustrations of a trilogy with Disney, and a slate of Indian and Chinese films in development. POW! Entertainment also manages all licensing deals and has its own comic book convention, Comikaze, which drew more than 50,000 attendees at the Los Angeles Convention Center last year. Stan remains Marvel’s Chairman Emeritus and best-known public representative.

Iain MacGregor, Non-Fiction Publishing Director at S&S UK, bought UK & Commonwealth rights from Matthew Benjamin, Senior Editor at Touchstone S&S US, who acquired world rights from the Susan Crawford Literary Agency.

POW! Entertainment Inc. (OTCQB:POWN) is a multi-media entertainment company founded by noted comic book writer Stan Lee together with award-winning producer Gill Champion and the late intellectual property specialist Arthur Lieberman. POW!’s principals have extensive backgrounds in the creation and production of original intellectual properties, including some of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time.  POW! is utilizing Stan Lee’s historical background by perpetuating his legacy while creating and developing all new live-action films, television, digital games, merchandising, licensing and related ancillary markets, all of which contribute to global expansion.  POW! Partners with third parties and strategic alliances, including studios and networks, in the production and distribution of new POW! character franchises.  For more information, visit http://www.powentertainment.com/.

 

For more information, please contact Bharti Taneja, Manager – Marketing & Publicity

Bharti.taneja@simonandschuster.co.in

22 May 2015