“When your lover may be dead, how long can you hold on to what remains? To whatever is left of you? A plane crash, a package, her dog,her voice. A notebook, his writer’s block, and heat-distorted summer memories of a search for Jumbo the Elephant and an absent father.”
Feel free to skip to the end.
So, I guess we need to say something about this book. Every time we sit down to talk about what we’re going to do next, together, we have the best of intentions. We’ve talked seriously about trying to bring whatever mainstream skills we might have to bear, about doing something in an identifiable genre, about doing something that might actually, this time, have an elevator pitch. And then we let go of the grenade. Because when we find ourselves with… five years of spare time and no imposed parameters, Russian Olive to Red King is what happens. We just can’t help ourselves but what the hell are you going to do. You have to make the book you make.
It’s listed as a romance. It’s not. Not really. But it’s the closest designation any of us could find. Stuart has called it a romance that isn’t romantic, a ghost story that isn’t frightening. I think we were gunning for‘psychological romance’ or ‘psychological ghost romance’ or, failing that, ‘book’.
(Stuart continues to suggest ‘Gho-mance’. That’s free for anyone who wants it.) What Russian Olive is, is a
story in two parts. The first involves a plane crash and Olive’s journey back
to Red. And it’s Red’s attempt to just
keep living when he knows, in the absence of any actual information, that his
life is never going to be the same. The second half is Red’s love letter to
Olive, in which he neither talks about love nor Olive because what do you say when
the only person you wanted to say it to will likely never hear it. Red talks
about the search for his absent father and about the inhumane tragedy of Jumbo
the Elephant, about working a shit job and lying under his grandmother’s bed
listening to her die. It’s text heavier, as if you weren’t already backing away
slowly with a fixed smile verging on rictus, with photographic elements on
every page and an illustrated punch line.
We had some late outside editorial
input that comic readers were scared off by text. I don’t want to start an
argument but I have to believe this is not true. I want to believe that, if
anything, comic readers are actually pan-literate and not scared off by
anything. The second half is in no way meant as an explanation of the first.
It’s happening simultaneously with the intention of completely, totally burying
you in emotional cement by the time you’re done. At least, that’s how it
affects us. I’m not sure what all is lurking in that back half but it made both
of us just want to crawl back into bed every time we had to deal with it. Maybe
for you, it’s just about a dog and an elephant and a guy that doesn’t know what
to do with himself. But we hope not.
Looking back through the stacks of paper and the
digital material for this book, it all probably started with a set of visual
images that were both a daily love letter, when I was away working on a
different task for a couple of months, and Stuart’s not so covert project to
upgrade his Illustrator™ skills (see: romance, not romantic). The first draft of the back half of Russian
Olive was written as a response to these images. And as we’ve pulled this book
apart and put it back together many times over the past five years, it’s become
clear that, in some ways, the piece itself is an exploration of how we work
together, what the relationship is between the words and the pictures, and how
it is that we can respond and react to what the other person is doing. We make
each other better. The other thing that’s made us better is working with Chris
Pitzer at AdHouse. It’s been a privilege to be included on such a carefully
curated publication roster and the attention he’s given this book humbles us both.
At any rate, tl;dr, Here’s how to get the book that we made:
We encourage you to deal with your LCS and you can pre-order with this PRINTABLE DIAMOND ORDER CODE (with bonus comedy because there’s none, okay maybe a little, in the book) or through Amazon or Chapters Indigo. We will also be at TCAF in May with a limited number of pre-shipped copies. Thanks, gang.