Monday, July 13, 2009

The True Story of Larry Walters, or How I came to make a 40 page graphic novel

This story begins way back in the summer of 2005. I just graduated and had started to work full time for Portland Studios. My first company trip was up to NYC to attend BookExpo. It was a massive convention of book sellers, authors, you name it. BookExpo was a lot of fun; we ran around NYC, threw portfolios at people, and got to meet Peter deSeve in his studio.

One of the most surreal experiences (outside of meeting Maurice Sendak) was walking on to one of three enormous show floors and coming face to face with a giant poster of book cover I had done.

While I was at BookExpo I met Kazu Kibuishi. We talked for a bit and he gave me a copy of Flight 2. I gave him a business card. One of my abiding memories of that summer was Kazu telling me then that if I had any stories to contribute to Flight, I should feel free. At the time I didn't feel I had anything to offer. In any case I figured he was just being nice. What I'd come to find out is that Kazu is not only nice, he's extremely generous and a very kind person.

Several years past and with the releases of Flight 3 and Flight 4, the books were just getting better and better. Still, I didn't feel like I had anything to offer, that and I taken the "invitation" as just something nice to say, more like an off handed comment. It was a nice thought though, that I could remind myself of whenever I was frustrated with my work.

That summer, the months of June and July, I set to work on what I think, outside of Le Cadaeu du Temps and possibly The Ruin of the Beast, was my most ambitious project, at very least my biggest personal project yet, Ticket.

As I was finishing up the work on Ticket something made me think about Flight and Kazu. I looked him up online and found his email. I also saw a little note on his site saying they don't accept unsolicited contributions to Flight.

I went back and forth about emailing. I knew how it might look, unprofessional, like, "Hey! Look what I did!" I wanted to show him Ticket, show him how I'd been inspired by his work and Flight but I really didn't want it to come off like I was submitting a story. Finally, I decided that I'd write. I sent him a few spreads and told him about Ticket and how we'd met a couple years before and explained that I wasn't submitting anything but just wanted to say hi. See, with Ticket I felt I had finally been able to make something. Come to find out he remembered me! And he even remembered the drawing on my business card. Also that the offer to contribute still stood.

We met up last summer at Comic-Con and as I tried to buy his book Amulet (he refused my cash and gave me a copy as a gift) he introduced me to a few people and said, "This is Cory, he'll be joining us in Flight 6."

Well, that was a mandate for me to come up with something greater than I had before, I was not about to let Kazu down. He'd been so kind as to invite me. There was no way I wasn't going to do my best to make something great and reach further than I thought I could.

The whole flight back to Greenville from San Diego I was thinking about what I would do. I ran through a lot of ideas. After several weeks of drawing and thinking and drawing and thinking I settled on an idea inspired by a song, Walters, by Pinback.

The song told the story of Larry Walters, you know the guy. He's the one who flew a lawn chair with weather balloons. He flew from San Pedro, CA to Long Beach (near the Los Angeles airport) and spent close to 45 minutes in the sky before he crash landed in a bunch of power lines and got arrested.

What I wanted to do was tell the story of what happened during those 45 minutes.

Next post : Writing the story

1 comment:

will kelly said...

Hi Cory,

My interest in Flight6 and Kazu Kibuishi has only grown since I heard you were contributing. I've been reading his blog and stuff, and he really seems like a great guy who loves his work. It's people like this who make it cool to do art. Thanks to both of you for the great inspiration!