This is a series of posts about comics included in the forthcoming anthology comic “Identity” produced by Northside Comics.
The next comic in our series is by John Vestevich and is entitled Give me all my favorite songs back.
Can you give us a brief description of your comic and what does it have to do with the theme of identity?
Give me all of my favorite songs back shows a guy going about a regular day in the city, but his mind is constantly bouncing between the present and memories of a lost love.
Where did you come up with the idea for your comic?
I was about a year past the end of a huge relationship and was doing great with moving on, licking my wounds, and forgiving myself. I met up with my ex for dinner because she was about to move to another part of the country and she said that she “wanted closure.” It turned out she actually wanted to tell me that she was still bent out of shape about certain things, she thought we hadn’t worked enough on our relationship enough to keep it alive, and she thought about me every day.
Here I was, doing this “great” job of moving on, and suddenly I was forced to go through my days, yet again, with my thoughts tethered to the past – but this time, there was an extra blanket of sadness on top of them, knowing how she continued to suffer. I knew there was nothing to be done to alleviate that suffering, we were through, as we should be, and we went our separate ways. But nevertheless, there I was, my present day invaded by unwelcome memories. And everything I did for a little while after that was despite this invasion, or rather, through this filter. For a short period, it was my new identity – this thing I carried around.
What influences your work both on this comic and in general?
My comics work is very heavily influenced by manga, particularly the works of Hiroaki Samura (Blade of the Immortal). Japanese comics in particular come from an animated place – the artists think of their comics like films, and the panels are like storyboards that help to establish a believable sense of rhythm and timing that does not exist in traditional (aka. boring and stupid) American superhero comics. How can you throw a punch WHILE speaking a paragraph’s worth of dialogue? I find that utter lack of believable pacing to be completely alienating, and, frankly, insulting.
Comics worlds continue to overlap and, thanks to the internet, my favorites of late have been comics from Europe, particularly France (Lewis Trondheim, Joann Sfar). Modern French cartoonists have an extremely loose, causal, and yet still somehow expert way of drawing comics that flies directly in the face of the precision and physicality of my treasured samurai epics from Japan. It’s like someone with incredible, flawless handwriting scribbling out a note on a napkin as fast as they can. Quentin Blake said that a great drawing should look as if it was barely pinned to the page. This kind of honest effortlessness is what I’m working towards now.
Where can people find more of your work?
The full comic anthology “Identity” will be available later this summer for purchase. If you can’t wait that long you can contribute to our kickstarter and maybe get yourself some unique swag.