The Comic Queen

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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Craig Thompson at Bumbershoot

I've been going to Bumbershoot, Seattle's four day music festival, for years now. While there is always a literary stage, where authors do readings or have Q&A sessions, this is the first year that there has been significant involvement from the comics' world. Unfortunately, schedule conflicts and packed houses led me to miss out on the panel discussion and Harvey Pekar's session. Nothing, however, could make me miss out on Craig Thompson's appearance on the literary stage.

A pretty good size crowd showed up for the session with Thompson and this attendee wasn't disappointed. After reading his work, especially Blankets and Carnet de Voyage, I expected Thompson to be nervous, self-deprecating, smart, and funny and he certainly didn't disappoint. He came on stage and seemed very small. He had a tiny voice even piped through the microphone. He really had no reason to be nervous, as he presented the audience with a lot of great information and was quite charming.

First, he talked about Goodbye Chunky Rice. He detailed how fellow inhabitants of a rooming house he lived in became characters in the novel. Later, he moved on to Blankets and told us his family's reaction to the book and, most interesting to me, showed us his process. It was cool to see Thompson's progress from very rough thumbnail sketches to a blueprint of a page and finally to finished product. I'm always interested in how talented people do their craft, so this portion of the talk was a treat. Lastly, Thompson talked about Carnet de Voyage focusing on his trip to Paris and Morocco, the subject of the book. He also spoke of some of the difficulties in this kind of "working vacation".

After the planned portion of the talk was over, Thompson opened up the floor to questions. Then a book signing session followed. Foolishly, I forgot the book that I wanted Thompson to sign and although some of his stuff was available for purchase, I didn't let myself buy it again. Hopefully, I'll get to see him again and then I can get something signed.

Be sure to check out Thompson if he goes on any sort of promotional tour in the near future. It was an hour well spent. Also, he said that his next book, Habibi (sp?), won't be out for about two more years. That makes this fan, devastatingly sad. Those two years better move fast and, hopefully, we'll see some smaller projects, like Conversation, in the time being.

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