Interview: R. Sikoryak Pt. 3 [of 3]

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In light of his successful debut at San Diego Comic Con this past weekend, we may well be seeing a slew of new Masterpiece Comics strips debut from the R. Sikoryak camp. Of course, given that the first book took roughly 20 years to produce, perhaps it’s best not to hold our collective breath for another anthology.

In the meantime, I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage the artist to instate some manner of Internet-based suggestion box—not because I expect or even really hope he’ll elect to tackle proposed strips, but rather because proposing theoretical pairings of literature and comics is, simply put, a lot of fun.

Heck, I couldn’t help suggesting one of my own in the third part of our interview, and while Marma Dick wasn’t a creative high point for me personally, once you put yourself in that mindset, such suggestions can’t be helped. But ultimately, I suppose there’s a reason why Sikoryak is the master behind Masterpiece Comics.

[Part One]
[Part Two]
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Interview: R. Sikoryak Pt. 2 [of 3]

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What do Dostoyevsky, David Heatley, Demi Moore, and the guy who drew Bazooka Joe have in common? Why the second part of our interview with Masterpiece Comics Author R. Sikoryak, of course.

[Part One]

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Interview: R. Sikoryak Pt. 1 [of 3]

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It took Michelangelo four years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Beethoven composed his 9th Symphony over course of six. Jonas Salk, meanwhile,  spent eight years chasing the cure for Polio. According to the copyright on the inside cover of Drawn & Quarterly’s Masterpiece Comics, the book’s 13 strips were created by R. Sikoryak over the course of 20 years—roughly the same period of time it took tens of thousands of workers to complete the Great Pyramid of Giza.

While it would, perhaps, be a bit of a stretch to suggest that the work were an accomplishment on par with, say, that big triangular structure in the middle of the Egyptian desert, the collection has certainly been eagerly awaited for all of those who’ve followed the New York-based artist’s work, which, over the past two decades, has appeared everywhere from RAW to The New Yorker to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

But while Sikoryak has certainly built an impressive portfolio by way of his freelance output, the strips that comprise Masterpiece Comics are his masterwork, filtering some of the greatest works of literature through some of 20th century sequential art’s most iconic figures. The cast of Bazooka Joe plays out Dante’s Inferno, Garfield becomes Mephistopheles to Jon Arbuckle’s Dr. Faustus, and Beavis and Butthead wait patiently for Godot.

These 13 strips are not straight comic satire, however. Sikoryak’s Masterpiece Comics are defined by two key factors. First is the artist’s devotion to his source material—never straying too far from Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, even as Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego adopts the role of Raskolnikov. Second is Sikoryak’s commitment to aesthetics, switching gracefully from Winsor McCay to Charles Schulz to Joe Shuster.

In honor of the book’s release in September (with early editions available at San Diego), we sat down with Sikoryak to discuss the book’s secret origins.

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Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

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Asterios Polyp
By David Mazzucchelli
Pantheon

davidmazzucchelliasterioscoverAt some point we all become ambassadors—to our parents, to our friends, to strangers we meet at parties. We give recommendations and lend out worn copies with bent spines. We attempt to justify our passions as more than simple guilty pleasures. There is no guilt here. This is art.

Few statements in this world are more subjective than that last one, of course, so, for the hard sell, we compile lists of game changers—the Spiegelmans, Satrapis, Wares, and Moores—authors whose work has convinced the critics to assess the medium’s finest work alongside the world’s high art and literature. Because, after all, if a book is high brow enough to win over some stodgy old book critic at The New York Times, surely it will do a number on mom and dad, right?

Of course it’s a touch too early to bandy about a term like “game changer” for Asterios Polyp—that’s a distinction that will have to be bestowed upon the book by future artists. Despite the still drying ink on the title’s first printing, however, it doesn’t seem too early to add David Mazzucchelli’s new book to the personal lending libraries of some of this medium’s finer works.

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Interview: Jaime Hernandez Pt. 1 [of 2]

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There’s part of me that felt a bit strange discussing the merits of superhero books with Jaime Hernandez. Sure the subject has come up with plenty of indie creators, and certainly artists like Jack Kirby are obligatorily rattled off when discussing Hernandez’s artwork, but the artist, who, along with his brother and longtime co-conspirator, Gilbert (and to a lesser extent, the eldest Hernandez sibling, Mario), is credited perhaps more so than any of his contemporaries as being one of the primary catalysts in indie comics’ divergence from the medium’s dominant caped paradigm.

The first issue of Love & Rockets’ most recent run (now an annual), however, bears the image of a caped Penny Century on its cover, a subject reflected in Jaime’s contributions to the book, which whole-heartedly embrace the superhero genre. Thankfully, however, they do so in a manner that fits comfortably into the world that Jaime has worked so hard to construct, thanks in large part to appearances by characters like Century and perennial loca, Maggie.

In this first part of our interview, we discuss caped crusaders, the fate of those early sci-fi stories, and the weird and wonderful world of Pogs.

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