About Fante Bukowksi Two

June 29, 2017

I have a new book out! The further adventures of the romantically “struggling, passionate, alcoholic” writer Fante Bukowski. Here’s a link to the Fantagraphics page where you can buy your own copy (it’s always better to support Fantagraphics directly over going to amazon of course) http://www.fantagraphics.com/fantebukowski2/

Fante-Bukowski-COVER

WRITING FANTE BUKOWSKI TWO

It’s 2015, and there I am, on a train traveling from Boston to a small Vermont town called White River Junction. At the end of a book tour for my most popular book yet: Fante Bukowski. Everything seems to be going well. I have momentum in the small alternative comics industry at last and as I sit watching the view become increasingly more forested outside my train window,  I begin thinking about my new character, Fante Bukowski, and how I’ve left him sitting in the dirt, surrounded by tall trees and seeing the stars outside of the city for the first time. A sudden way to end the novella. I began to sketch out different ideas in a notebook for what could’ve happened to my character afterwards. Where did he go? Is he still writing?  I was curious, not necessarily to construct a new book, but just to amuse myself about what his future was as the view in the window sped by.

I arrived in White River Junction’s tiny train station with my suitcase of clothing and backpack of bristol pads and pens, prepared to spend my year working on a book I’d signed a contract to draw. An examination of the real life American frontier wanderer John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) written by scholar Paul Buhle. Given the “10 Year Anniversary Fellowship” at the Center For Cartoon Studies (including about 5 thousand dollars to live on and a studio to work in), I was prepared to focus deep and learn to draw nature properly. The town was a quiet, forgotten railroad hub, at the meeting of the Connecticut and White River. Basically one Main street, with small homes tucked into wooded hillsides surrounding it. The giant Hotel Coolidge being the main landmark and my new home.

As the summer months turned into autumn and winter, I had settled into the doldrums of working from somebody else’s script and trying to meet my deadline. Eventually shunning the studio the school had provided in favor of the dresser desk in my hotel room. By this point I was thinking about Fante Bukowski a lot more. Messages came into my tumblr page and email occasionally from confused readers wondering if I liked the character or hated him. Nobody was sure why I would make such an obnoxious person the focus of a book. I didn’t hate him a bit. In fact, I kind of was him. And many of the feelings of paranoia and anxiety about becoming a published author came from my own experiences on the way to where I was. I had amplified the struggle for humor, maybe, but I knew that character well. And I knew I had more to write about for him.

In January 2016 I sent off the file for Johnny Appleseed to the editor at Alternative comics (the story of this book is its own rambling blog post) and I found myself once again free to draw my own comics. I went back to the notebook I had carried with me during my last book tour and sifted through the story notes for a new volume of Fante Bukowski. My vague plot idea would have my character arrive in a new city where he could have a fresh chance to establish himself as an up and coming writer. I got to work right away.

pg.02

Spring came with artistic frustrations and not much progress on my new book, summer found me moving to Columbus, Ohio to belong to the affordable new comics mecca but tugging along those same frustrations. At some point I had realized that I couldn’t just do the same thing I had done before; more or less a series of 70 gag strips about a wannabe Charles Bukowski. This time I’d have to challenge myself to go deeper with the character that everyone hated as a person the first time around. In a conversation with Leslie Stein about the plot she said something that stuck with me and freed me up a bit: “You can do whatever you want with the character. You’ve already established who he is in the first book. Now you can get weird.” Great, inspiring advice!

Another thing that had been stuck in my head was something my Belgian publisher wrote while requesting a few edits on the first book: “Fante is on every page.”

It was true, I hadn’t really given the reader a lot of breathing room in the first Fante Bukowski. Every page was it’s own set up gag because I had posted a new page everyday on Tumblr and Facebook and the book was really just a collection of those strips. It was short and quick but every page had the guy’s goofy face on it. Opening up his world a bit and exploring the other characters was a really good idea. On top of that, learning to write a story with multiple characters who all have their own story arcs was something I had never really tried before, but was something I needed to tackle.

I added some pages about Audrey, the romantic interest of Fante Bukowski from the first story, a writer who’s first book had come out to zero acclaim and was struggling with the contractual obligation of her second book. This time we would find her in the beginning of a big change in her career. Her second book is a surprise hit and now she’s about to go on her first big book tour. Suddenly I felt I had stumbled onto something interesting. How Fante deals with the lack of success and how audrey deals with her sudden success.

pg.018

Audrey Catron isn’t a performer. She’s a serious writer and a homebody. Suddenly being in the spotlight makes her uncomfortable and nostalgic for when she felt like an outcast.When she could be left alone. She’s begins feeling nostalgic for her time with Fante Bukowski. And she tries to seek him out. That became the engine of my story. Two people reconnecting. Audrey’s story arc was her becoming comfortable with her new role and to gain the closure she needed from the past to move onward into her future.

Fante becomes his own publisher and learns what it is to have to take care of yourself in a new city. He unknowingly plants the seeds for a future story in Columbus. The 3rd and final Fante Bukowski book.

So I’m very proud of this book. It’s in a lot of ways the most complicated story I’ve written so far and the challenges and late nights of anxiety all proved to be worth it in the end. I hope you will like it.

pg.126

 

 

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3 Responses to “About Fante Bukowksi Two”

  1. Keith S. said

    This entry is fantastic and informative.

  2. johnemumbles said

    Good post & FB2 is a great sequel! I think an honest person can’t help but see themselves in aspects of the character. Looking forward to FB3 & don’t say it’ll be the last one! Keep going!!

  3. Loved this window into your process. Thanks, Noah. Hope you keep posting these periodically!

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