Sorry for my absence from this blog for a while. I’ve been taking advantage of the “calm before the storm” of promoting “The Year of Loving Dangerously” to work on another book, an all-prose political manifesto. It’s coming out in the fall of 2009. I’ve got 27,000 out of 40,000 words done, and it’s due December 15th, so wish me luck. Although, as usual, the last half is going by 5x faster than the first half.
SEAS grad draws ‘sketchy’ life
With the edgy, graffiti-swathed New York of 1984 as its stage, “The Year of Loving Dangerously” tells the rousing coming-of-age story of the now renowned political cartoonist in the year his life fell apart.
By Tommy Hill
Published Thursday 19 November 2009 07:24pm EST.
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For the cockeyed Columbia student who took his acceptance letter as a one-way ticket to the upper crust, Ted Rall’s autobiographical graphic novel “The Year of Loving Dangerously” is a wake-up call. With the edgy, graffiti-swathed New York of 1984 as its stage, the full-color memoir, to be released next month by Nantier, Beall, Minoustchine, tells the rousing coming-of-age story of the now renowned political cartoonist in the year his life fell apart.
Long before he became an award-winning journalist and artist, Rall was a dedicated Columbia engineering student, committed to the grueling undergraduate marathon of interminable nights holed up in Butler, striving for the inevitable six-figure paycheck at the finish line. In the work, however, the young Rall is sidelined by a freak medical condition, forcing him to miss his exams in the first semester of his junior year. A series of unfortunate accidents over the course of the next few months sees him arrested, fired, broken up with, expelled, and evicted. In the blink of an eye, Rall is booted from his high-flying life in the Ivy League and comes crashing down on the mean streets of a still gritty New York. Suicide looks like a welcoming exit.
“The message I wanted to get out there in this book,” Rall said, “was that this could happen to anyone.” But as depressing as its premise is, “The Year of Loving Dangerously” is no mere sob story. As the title implies, Rall’s is also a tale of freewheeling sex and endless lusty exploits. The homeless, desperate Rall discovers very early on that sometimes a comfy bed is just a smooth grin away. He becomes, in effect, a gigolo—“For day after day, week after week, and month after month, I ended up crashing at women’s apartments.” What started as a hopeless nightmare turns into a gripping adventure that is at once a steamy quest and a struggle for survival.
Working alongside renowned illustrator Pablo Callejo, Rall has created a work that is as visually striking as it is emotionally moving. The intricately detailed panels, many of them based on photo records of New York at the time, vividly reconstruct the context of Rall’s most trying year in all its grimy, punky detail. Illustrations of Rall in his old haunts—bars, record stores, underground concert halls, and Columbia’s campus—are as rich and evocative as photographs.
By the story’s end, Rall has managed to piece his life back together. With a job and a place of his own, seducing women has lost its existential urgency. But, as Rall assured, “The Year of Loving Dangerously” is not the whole story. “This is only the first part of what’s going to be a ‘sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll’ trilogy,” he said. “I’ve got a whole lot more to tell.”
A rave with reservations if that can be. While Ain’t It Cool News was at times appalled by what O goes through, even calling the book mysoginistic (which means he didn’t really get it) he waxes lyrical about Crepax’ adaptation of it:
“First of all, the Eurotica imprint of NBM Publishing has done a beautiful job of packaging this book together.
Crepax is a master storyteller and he wields a lyrical brush. His style is beautiful with a nouveau tendency towards elongated bodies and necks especially…but not grotesquely so. The smoothness of his brush work just glides across the page in most instances and only in the most intense moments does he allow his work to get rough and scratchy.
O is never less than always beautifully sexual. Crepax makes sure that her sexual beauty draws the reader’s eye even when the heart or mind might want to pull away from the events that are unfolding.
The beauty of Crepax’s art somehow makes it palatable and I found it to be something I couldn’t put down…
Guido Crepax truly was a master storyteller, and while he may have focused his talents in an area that many are afraid to go, if you can handle the content, Crepax’s THE STORY OF O is actually a must-have for those who love graphic storytelling in all its many forms.”
heh, heh, we really pushed his buttons.
oop, a bit late here, as it’s already a few posts down, but a warm welcome to Pablo Callejo, whose art graces Ted’s latest Year of Loving Dangerously.
Of course, you might already know him for his work with Rob Vollmar on Bluesman and the Castaways.
Always wondrous stuff.
And hopefully he’ll talk for both he and Ted who *grumblmumbl* hardly participates here even if I resort to pointing a gun at him!!!
Ted?… You there?
“The Dungeon series remains a thrilling, sharp read, in this case thanks largely in part to Blain’s stunning art work. Certainly this isn’t a good jumping-on point for newcomers, but it’s well worth getting through the series to arrive at this point. You’ll be surprised where the journey takes you.”
and on Joe & Azat:
“An entertaining book, mainly due to Lonergan’s deft characterizations, both with Azat and his extended family, especially his abusive drunkard of a brother. Lonergan may be vague on a number of details, but the dialogue nevertheless rings true. The fact that it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome helps too. It gets in, makes its points and leaves. I wish more comics would follow that example.”
So says Chris Mautner on Comic Book Resource’s Robot 6.
That’s right, we use big words here because that’s what Terry likes–literate people to read literary works of art. The entire catalog of NBM books will make your head spin dizzy with thoughtful and provoking looks at life and the people living them. So do yourself a favor and make your holiday shopping that much easier…I mean hell they’re having a sale right now on Eurotica…you know…for the kids! 🙂
A nice review here of North Country awaits you.
Hi, everyone. This is Pablo Callejo, writting from Spain. I’m happy to be here, and I would thank Terry Nantier for hosting me at his virtual home.
First at all, let me tell you that I’m a self-taught English speaker, so please excuse my horrible way of writting.
Now, on the subject: Pepo Pérez, a great spanish illustrator and cartoonist, besides a serious comics theoretician (www.pepoperez.com) said a few days ago, in his blog “Es Muy de Cómic” that, when one of his books is released and the people starts to buy it, it’s like the book isn’t a creation of him anymore. At that moment, it isn’t “his book”, but the people’s book, following his own way.
I can’t agree more with that, and, in my opinion, there are two moments which marks the “goodbay farewell” moment: the first one, is when you go to the Postal Office with the CD containing the full art, into an envelopment ready to send it to the Publisher. After a lot of effort, months (or three years, in the case of “The Year of Loving Dangerously”) of discounting sleeping time to draw, finally you breath and think “Ok, here you go!” (actually, this is not the end of the work, since there are always a lot of minor corrections and changes).
And the second and definitive one, is when the Postman knocks your door, and says “MAIL FROM AMERICA!!” and you get this:
Believe me, the moment you open the box and take the first book in your hands, is magic. Then, looking at the paper, smelling the inks, is when you feel that’s not your “son” anymore. Now, it belongs to the people. Good luck, son, I hope you can make the people happy (they’re going to spend their money in you, so better you do!).
Well, in the strange but not impossible case you’re reading this from Paris (France) or nearby, I’ll be next Friday and Saturday in Mantes-la-Jolie for a small signing tour, in the framework of the Blues Festival “Blues sur Seine”. I love to be in France for signing, french are so… “connaisseurs” and so friendly, it’s always a pleasure to meet them. I’ll post photos.
And, next week, some “making of” about “The Year of Loving Dangerously”.
Thanks. And best regards,
“The art of Joe and Azat is deceptively simple. Black and white images, mostly of faces and places, do an adept job of telling the story. On the surface it represents the simple way of life for the people of Turkmenistan. However, when you study the images in adjunct with the text, the complexity of this style becomes apparent. Longerman utilizes juxtaposition to explore perception and reality. People would like things to go one way, but the reality is that they must go another. For example, the Peace Corps administrators would like for Joe to follow the rules given to him for navigating Turkmenistan, but the reality is that he would never survive if he did.
If you like graphic novels with strong characterization and crisp art, determined to open your eyes and your heart, definitely grab a copy of Joe and Azat.”
Sequential Tart, giving it an 8 out of 10.
And one of Canada’s main papers, the National Post, picked up the piece on this book that ran in the Wall Street Journal.
The famous art magazine of bondage Skin Two and its chief Tim Woodward reviews our Story of O:
“Guido Crepax, the great pioneer of sensual graphic comics, uses multi-panelled pages to give the impression that you are peeping through a keyhole into O’s world of SM submission. She gives herself up to bondage, humiliation, sex with multiple partners, sodomy and even gets branded, all because it is the desire of her lover. This hardcover edition is a real collectors’ item.”
Jazma Online, while taken aback at the acts O lets herself be directed to do, chimes in:
“How to make a woman your slave so she will do anything for you. Not only do it but love doing it.
The art really stands out.”
The Rukhnama is a truly amazing book. This is the quasi-political-spiritual-self-help-how-to-win-friends-and-dominate-people book written by Turkmenbashy (the former president for life of Turkmenistan). It was in all the schools in Turkmenistan while I was there. It was used in every classroom (I even saw it used in a math class). It was on sale in nearly every store. A copy was launched into space to orbit the earth, eternally protecting us. Turkmenbashy claimed that if you read it three times you would go to heaven. Words from the Rukhnama were even written on the inside of a mosque outside the city of Ashgabat (the inside of mosques generally being reserved for the Koran).
So it was natural when it came time to do the cover of my book I would look to the Rukhnama for inspiration. Pink and green all the way!