Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

THE NEXT DAY Interview Series: Part 4, with John Porcellino (Illustrator)

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The Next Day Creative Team

This concludes an ongoing series of weekly interviews with the creative team behind the newly released graphic novella and forthcoming interactive animated documentary, The Next Day. Recently we spoke with the book's Co-Writer and Interactive Director, Jason Gilmore, following previous interviews with the book's Co-Writer, Paul Peterson, and the project's Producer and Publisher, Alex Jansen. This week we've interviewed the book's Illustrator, indie-comics pioneer John Porcellino ("Porcellino creates some of the most thoughtful, intelligent and beautiful comix in America" - Time Magazine).

The Next Day is both a groundbreaking print graphic novella and interactive animated documentary online, each constructed from intimate interviews with survivors of near-fatal suicide attempts. In this poetic and profound philosophical exploration, four seemingly ordinary people each offer haunting personal insight into life, the decision to end it and what comes after....

The graphic novella is produced and published by Pop Sandbox, the award-winning company behind KENK: A Graphic Portrait. The interactive experience is a co-production with the National Film Board of Canada in association with TVO as part of the NFB-TVO Calling Card Program. It will launch online at nfb.ca/thenextday and tvo.org/thenextday in early June. For more information visit www.thenextday.ca

Open Book: Toronto:

What attracted you to this project?

John Porcellino:

Mostly, it seemed like a good cause, one that was close to my heart. And I thought the guys involved seemed like good people — it was clear they weren't going to sensationalize or exploit the subject matter. Lastly, it was also an opportunity for me to do something different, in that I would be working with a creative team. In the past I had (mostly) written, drawn and edited all my own comics. So I looked at it as a chance to expand my horizons a bit.

OBT:

In your largely autobiographical King-Cat stories you've been quite open about your own struggles with chronic depression as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Did you find this subject matter difficult to tackle or cathartic?

JP:

In terms of King-Cat, I struggled with how to address these issues in my work. Of course they were a huge part of my life, and as an autobiographical cartoonist I felt the need to work them out in that form. But I also felt a great deal of shame, and I spent a lot of time trying to hide it all from people. For some reason, in my comics, it was easier for me to talk about the depression than the anxiety. But at some point the burden of hiding it all became just as bad as the original problem itself. So I began to slowly open up about it, and it was a huge relief. That's another core reason I wanted to work on The Next Day — I think anything that helps bring these issues out into the open is helpful.

OBT:

You are certainly best known for your own personal work. How did you find the process of collaborating? And how was the collaboration structured?

JP:

Like I said I was interested in seeing firsthand what the collaborative process would be like. I can't deny it was a little bit hard for me at times — I'm used to making all the decisions! But in the end I think it was good. Hopefully the book will be of benefit to people. That was my biggest motivation for getting involved.

As far as the specific process — the other guys provided me with a pretty detailed script, but I was free to interpret a lot of it as I saw fit and make suggestions along the way. It really was a group effort and there was plenty of give and take.

Of course, while I was drawing the book, they were also hard at work on the interactive side of things, which I had only minimal involvement with. Once I saw that part of it, I really got a sense of the larger, collaborative nature of what they were aiming at, and that helped me see the big picture — it was really an enormous group effort!


John Porcellino has been writing, drawing and publishing minicomics, comics and graphic novels in America for over 25 years. He is best known for his self-published, predominantly autobiographical minicomics series, King-Cat Comics, which he began as a teenager in 1989 and continues to produce today. Porcellino’s poetic representations of the everyday, his masterful storytelling and his minimalist drawing style have won him critical acclaim and influenced a generation of alternative comics creators. According to cartoonist Chris Ware (Jimmy Corrigan and The Acme Novelty Library), "John Porcellino's comics distill, in just a few lines and words, the feeling of simply being alive," while Time Magazine has proclaimed that "Porcellino creates some of the most thoughtful, intelligent and beautiful comix in America." Porcellino has struggled with chronic depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder the majority of his life.

For more information about The Next Day please visit the Pop Sandbox website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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