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The Cartoonist in Comics: Using Autobiography in Graphic Novels

Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 7:00pm

These four cartoonists more than put themselves into their art, but become their cartooning, directly reflecting their lives and personalities in their work.

Geek Week 2013 gets an injection of semi-autobiographical cartoonists Dean Haspiel, Bob Fingerman, Laura Lee Gulledge, and Ethan Young for a panel moderated by Christopher Irving, where they’ll get to the core of why they put themselves into their stories. The panel kicks off with quick readings of their work, and an informal round table talk about the ins and outs of semi-autobio cartooning.

Best known for his comic series Minimum Wage (Fantagraphics Books), as well as the novels Bottomfeeder and Pariah (M Press and Tor), Bob Fingerman’s contributions to the world of comics have been many and varied. In 1993 Fingerman wrote and drew his first graphic novel, White Like She, a science-fictiony social satire about interracial/intergenerational brain transplantation. Upon completion of that purely fictional work Fingerman decided to turn his attention inward. The result was the semi-autobiographical Minimum Wage, which charted the bumpy relationship of Rob Hoffman and Sylvia Fanucci. A new deluxe edition of this work, MAXIMUM MINIMUM WAGE, will be released in March 2013 from Image Comics.

Emmy award winner and Eisner Award nominee Dean Haspiel created BILLY DOGMA, illustrated for HBO's Bored To Death, received a residency at Yaddo, and was a Master Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Dino has written and drawn many superhero and semi-autobiographical comix, including collaborations with Harvey Pekar, Jonathan Ames, Inverna Lockpez, Stan Lee, and Jonathan Lethem. Dino also curates and creates for TripCity.net.

Laura Lee Gulledge is a Virginia-born writer, artist, and educator. Her debut graphic novel Page by Paige was nominated for the Eisner and Harvey Awards, as well as being the only graphic novel nominated in the YALSA 2012 teen top ten. Her second book Will & Whit comes out in May 2013 through Abrams Books.  Laura Lee crafts stories and panels with images that are thought-provoking, funny, and emotionally resonant. Next up she’s putting together a weekly illustrated column for Trip City and is developing Will & Whit as a musical with her Artner Lauren Larken.

Ethan Young is an NYC-based comic book artist who has been drawing since the age of three. He started his career in the comic book industry as a self publisher, eventually winning Best Graphic Novel during the 2007 Independent Publishers Book Awards for his semi-autobiographical comedy, Tails. Ethan Young's career encompasses a wide range of projects, including: storyboards, t-shirts, video games, character designs, print ads, book covers, album covers, logos, and much more. The first volume of Tails came out this past year from Hermes Press, and will be followed by second and third volumes.

A writer and popular culture historian in New York City, Christopher Irving's most recent book, Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics (powerHouse books), with photographer Seth Kushner and designer Eric Skillman, chronicles the history of the American comic book through photos and interview-based essays on creators new and old. With a focus on the American comic book, he has also authored four books and several magazine articles on the topic, edited the digital comics magazine The Drawn Word, and serves as Consulting Editor on the upcoming Comic Book Creator magazine (TwoMorrows Publishing).

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