Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

August 20, 2008

You Asked, They Answered: Tim Lane on Plans For Happy Hour In America

Sammy Harkham: "Is 'Belligerent Piano' going to continue as a comic book? It sounded like that's what [cartoonist Tim Lane] wants to do, but I was unsure if that's what's going to happen."

Tim Lane: "Yeah, hopefully as installments in Happy Hour in America. Of course, affording print costs and everything else is another matter. Diamond pulled out as a distributor for Happy Hour after the second issue because sales were lower than they were for the first issue. I really haven't known what to do about it since then. I have no head for business or salesmanship or any of that. But I hate having it end there -- I just haven't figured out how to solve that riddle yet.

image"Belligerent Piano is the complete opposite of the short stories making up Abandoned Cars, and the next two books of short stories. It's a vehicle for opposite interests -- a very, very long story as opposed to collected shorts. I'm trying to make a decision about how to continue producing Belligerent Piano, and Happy Hour in America, the comic in which Belligerent Piano would continue as installments. Belligerent Piano is going to continue one way or another, in some form. Right now it is taking the form of a serialized strip on my weblog.

I'm producing it that way for two reasons: One is because I really want to do a serialized strip, in the tradition of Dick Tracy, etc...I love that part of the tradition of comics; the other is because I want to keep the story going. The story itself is very long -- I always imagined it to be this huge, textured story that meanders and indulges in digressions and substories...on and on like that. But you have to take one step at a time, one panel at a time. I don't mind publishing it only on my weblog, but I'd love to have some alternative weekly papers want to publish it. I'd love to see it as a traditional strip -- among the clutter of news and ads surrounding it...just in print, in general. My tastes are too old fashioned to be completely satisfied with the internet. Again, like comic books, it's a shame that serialized comic dailies or weeklies are dying out. Not just one-time gag dailies or weeklies, but extended stories. I think Belligerent Piano works well as a strip, partly because it takes place in my surreal, absurd version of late 1940s America -- a time when serialized dailies were prevelant. There's that connection or link. There's also something great about having a deadline.

"The way I imagine it, the Belligerent Piano strips would be collected into stories that'd run in larger installments of Happy Hour, along with other stuff -- pieces from Folktales, for example, or experimental work. I really don't know what to do about Happy Hour. I want to keep it going because there's something personally very satisfying about fitting into that tradition of comics, however minimally.

"But the story of Belligerent Piano has developed over the years. I just need to figure out how to keep it alive, and right now it's kept alive on the weblog. There are also several short stories based on the characters of Belligerent Piano -- I don't know what to do about those."
posted 4:05 pm PST | Permalink

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