YOU SHOULD HAVE IT SO MUCH BETTER
I hesitate even posting about my many problems with Ego & Hubris: The Michael Malice Story--the clumsy scene transitions, the lazy copyediting, the ugh-inducing art, the odd attempt to brand it as an American Splendor book by making the "from the author of" slug so large, it looks like the title, etc. (the storytelling is so bad it almost made me forget how much more worse it was in another recent read, Embroideries (I'm ready for the Marjane Satrapi love affair to be over). I hesitate because I once worked as an assistant editor on Harvey Pekar's books and both enjoyed the experience and the many conversations I had with the man. One thing really ticked me off, though, and I can't live with myself for not commenting it.
As much as I am not a fan of Gary Dumm's art, he gets treated like the worst kind of wage slave on this book. Everything about the design of this book wants to make you think that it's by Harvey Pekar and Harvey Pekar alone. Excepting his signature on the drawing, Dumm's name doesn't appear anywhere on the cover, and it only appears on the jacket in small time, giving him credit for the illustration. Everywhere else, it's Harvey Pekar. The jacket copy even goes so far as to say, "Harvey writes up and illustrates one of Michael Malice's tales, 'Fish Story,' which is part of American Splendor: Our Movie Year." I don't own that book, but I can say without a doubt that Harvey did not illustrate that story. It's a ridiculous assertion, and frankly, as a longtime comic book professional and a write who currently collaborates with artists, I find it offensive.
I hope this isn't going to be a trend amongst the "Big Book Publishers," where superstar authors will be pushed forward and the artists whom they need to finish off the books get shoved to the side. So far a lot of the lit publishers have largely stayed focused on cartoonists who do it all themselves, but I know there is a push to get established authors to work on graphic novels. They need to treat our medium with the respect it deserves.
I do realize that Harvey Pekar is at least partially complicit in this, and thus partially responsible for suggesting this is the way things are to be done. If you look at the spine of Our Cancer Year, it says "Brabner/Pekar" and Frank Stack only gets a credit on the front cover, so it's not the first time an artist has been sidelined to a degree. (Though, compare the cover of The Quitter, published by an actual comic book company.) In this instance, however, it's gone way too far. Ego and hubris indeed!
Current Soundtrack: Franz Ferdinand, You Could Have It So Much Better; Outkast, Idlewild
Current Mood: irate
[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2006 Jamie S. Rich