[NOTE: Leland Myrick joins the inspired gang of guest-bloggers. His MISSOURI BOY is on the First Second FALL '06 list. Leland's entry includes a few magnificent behind-the-scene sketches for it.]
***Missouri Boy Origins***
I didn’t set out to make an autobiographical graphic novel. I really didn’t. For years I’d been writing poems about my early years growing up in Missouri. And then one day I decided to turn one of those poems into comic form, and that became PAPER AIRPLANES, which was published in a Dark Horse Comics anthology. That was it, I thought at the time–a nice, short one-shot autobiographical story. Sweet, to the point, no more needed.
But then as I finished my last book, BRIGHT ELEGY, and I was busy at my drawing board sketching out ideas for the next book, my wife came up behind me and said, “You know, your poems are the best stuff you’ve written. You should turn them all into comic stories, make that your new book.”
I laughed the idea off. But the seed of autobiographical temptation had been planted in my brain and would only grow. I began work on several ideas, but kept coming back to the poems that would eventually become the basis of MISSOURI BOY, and so I put everything else aside.
Poetry and comics have a lot in common, really–a brief amount of time to tell a story or make a point or express a sentiment, a visual flow on the page. To turn one into the other, some stanzas became images, and some words just fell away, unnecessary. And like a book of poetry, I realized it would be a memoir, not an autobiography, a series of specific moments rather than a single story.