Ever since I made the decision to leave the security of a paid day job to be a full-time graphic novelist, my goal has been this: to pursue what I love.
When Jordan Peimer, Vice President and Director of Programs at the Skirball Cultural Center, asked me to work on moderating a panel about graphic novels—a subject that aligns perfectly with the current exhibition Gary Baseman: The Door Is Always Open—my first thought was, “Cool, I’m completely not cut out for this.” But after some deliberation, and considering the heavy-handed Who’s the Lars von Trier of Comics approach, I concluded I’d do what I have done my whole career: follow my heart. This has always led me down the path of success, and undoubtedly would not fail me now.
There is a Los Angeles pride in me that has always considered the Skirball to be a hallmark of L.A. arts and culture for the past decade. I knew each member of this panel had to be an Angeleno. The language of making comics is one that combines words and pictures, and I didn’t seek out people who could do one or the other—I wanted both. Hope Larson is one of those intimidatingly brilliant graphic novelists I’ve been yearning to know for years, and I took this opportunity to find out what makes her tick. Malachi Ward has been cultivating a hardcore following over the past few years with his ornate and detailed perspective of the world, and I want to help him grow to stardom. Nick Thorburn made the seamless decision to draw comics and make music—both are beautiful contributions to their mediums; quiet, but aggressive when necessary. I love what all of these people do. I love that they take what could be relegated as mere pop art so seriously, and I know that they’re approaching comics the same way I am. You learn over time to pursue what you love. None of the panelists above chose being a graphic novelist for the glorious paycheck. Like me, they were infected with an affection for comic books that could not be quelled. Attend our May 8 panel, Sequential Smarts, and learn how each of these amazing artists have persevered in one of the most temperamental and exciting art forms of the past few decades.
See you Wednesday! The Gary Baseman exhibition will be open until 8:00 p.m. and we will be giving out a limited number of signed prints, so come early!