So it Goes: A Comic Book Tribute to Vonnegut

Categories:  News

NY Times obit: “His harshest critics called him no more than a comic book philosopher…”


I’ll assume for the sake of brevity, that the majority of those who comprise the readership of an alternative comics blog are already well acquainted with Mr. Vonnegut’s genius—for those who aren’t, a stream of genuinely heartfelt tributes (the rarest kind on the event of a celebrity death, to be sure), will do their damnedest to drive the point home.

I learned of Vonnegut’s death at 5 AM, last night–one of the few benefits of sporadic insomnia, is the fact that, if you have an Internet connection in your apartment, you get the news before everyone else. Liz, too, was awake–though, in her defense, she’s on the west coast, and it was probably more like 3AM when she heard. Liz proceeded to cobble together some links for a post, asking whether it was appropriate to create an obit for the novelist within the confines of our comics blog.

I immediately sent a letter out to some of our favorite artists, asking them to pay tribute to the writer. When I officially woke up the next morning, I already had a few responses in my inbox. One was from Evan Dorkin, who suggested that we use Vonnegut’s ink sketches to justify his inclusion, and while the author’s art was most assuredly an integral part to many of his works, that seems a bit like writing an obit on Abraham Lincoln based upon his love of hats.

Dorkin’s second point was more apt, I think: it’s my blog and I can do what I want. As it so happens, having some of my favorite artists pay homage to one of my favorite writers is exactly what I want. We’ll not weep for Vonnegut–the author it seems, has greatly exaggerated rumors of his own death for the past decade or so, and as such has surely made peace with a world whose consciousness he worked so hard to shape. For every Vonnegut, there remain a million Kilgore Trouts, toiling away, tirelessly, all of whoms lives have surely been touched by one of literature’s greatest minds.

Below are some tributes–we’ll be collecting them and adding more as they arrive, so check back later in the day. In the meantime, the only thing left to say is something that’s been said a million times over, while the author still graced this world with his brilliance: god bless you, Mr. Vonnegut.

I read Breakfast of Champions when I was in high school, and I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I had no idea a novel could be so exciting and funny and crazy and fantastic! I then went on to read every book he’s ever written, and loved all of it. I’ve never been nearly as enthusiastic about any other novelist since then. –Peter Bagge

Oy, that’s sad news… I won’t be able to write an obituary today, unfortunately. This is the sort of thing that I would need weeks to think about, to do it any sort of justice. Kurt Vonnegut was one of my heroes…–Ivan Brunetti

Kurt Vonnegut once visited here in Prague. It was still during the communist era, so he was only able to do his talk at the American Ambassador’s residence. He was just as magnetic a speaker as he was a writer. We all hung on his words. At the time, he was the number one hot author for many of us, and I avidly read each of his books as they came out. I suppose that Slaughterhouse Five was the one that most resonated with us here at the time. Everyone will miss the hope of another new book from Kurt Vonnegut! –Gene Deitch

When I read it as a teenager I was struck by the device of interspersing doodles into a book as part of the narrative, not as illustrations picking out scenes to portray. I also remember being sort of shocked by his crude little starburst drawing of the human asshole, and how weirdly appropriate and effective it was. –Evan Dorkin

I think Vonnegut is probably glad to have finally left this annoying,
unjust world. Good for him! –Tom Hart

I was forced to read all of Vonnegut’s books when I was in high school. I had a hippy teacher who steered me in the right direction. I tried to make some Ice 9 once. I threw it in a creek near our house in Massachusetts, but it didn’t work. –Tony Millionaire

For a year I lived in a shack just feet from the “mansion” Kurt Vonnegut owned when he lived in Iowa City. Of course, he was long gone from Iowa at that point, but he did give a lecture to the student body at the University of Iowa that year. He was very tall, and he described the licking of mucilage on the back of an envelope as “sexy.” Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five are two of the very few non-graphic-novels I’ve ever finished. He was brilliant. –Jeremy Tinder

Our buddy, Brian “Box” Brown, sent us this great little strip he wrote on the subject of Vonnegut, along with this note: I read about 13 of his books last year all in a row. I think I subconsciously saved a few (Palm Sunday and Hocus Pocus) so I would always have some KV to come back to. To me he exemplified everything it is to be an artist. Unapologetically humble, he breathed real life to fantastical characters. Used his own doodles in his work and was side-splittingly funny. I am sad to see him go.


–Brian Heater and Elizabeth Chou

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