Arts Desk

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Gordon Harris

Gordon Harris has recently published his first graphic novel, Pedestrian, which he says is “an original full-color post-apocalyptic graphic novel without zombies or vampires.” His press release describes the book’s plot as “Ray, the pedestrian, wanders the post-apocalyptic suburbs and discovers a mysterious package, an elaborate tree house, and carrier pigeons. He meets Tamaya, a self-acclaimed, closet-conspiracy theorist who lives in the tree-house, and they soon embark on a search for the origins to a mysterious map carried by...er, one of the carrier pigeons.”

While I’m still waiting for my copy to arrive from one of those large online booksellers, let’s find out a little bit more about the Annandale, Va., cartoonist.

WCP: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?
Gordon Harris: Since it’s not my day job, I don’t do a lot of comic work. But I can tell you this, I don’t have zombies, vampires, or robots on my list of things to do. At least not yet.

WCP: How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?
GH: Combo. I draw everything out in pencil on tracing paper then scan the drawings into the computer and color in Photoshop.

WCP: When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?
GH: Yes. (More clues to come.)

WCP: Why are you in Washington now? What neighborhood or area do you live in?
GH: I was freelancing in New York City, but in the ‘90s (clue No. 1), I had a job offer that was hard to pass up. So here I am.

WCP: What is your training and/or education in cartooning?
GH: I started tracing comic books when I was a kid—maybe 12 or 14 years old. I graduated from Parsons School of Design as an Illustration major.

WCP: Who are your influences?
GH: Too many to list. [Dan] Clowes. Jim Jarmusch. Ray Bradbury. They change from day-to-day. I love what’s happened with the small press over the last 10 years. There are some beautiful graphic novels out there. I can’t keep up.

WCP: If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?
GH: Nothing. I don’t like looking back.

WCP: What work are you best-known for?
GH: That all depends on who you’re asking. If you’re asking my mother, it’s the fact that I started making my own bed every morning when I was in first grade. If you ask my colleagues, they’d probably say, “Gordon who?”

WCP: What work are you most proud of?
GH: Today—maybe tomorrow—it would be Pedestrian (with my twin daughters being a close second).

WCP: What would you like to do, or work on in the future?
GH: My next graphic novel about three outcast elves who live under a stove. It’ll be a little lighter than Pedestrian and is targeting kids around 7-8 years old.

WCP: What do you do when you’re in a rut or have writer’s block?
GH: Explore a local comic book store (that carries small press comics) or revisit something I’ve created in the past.

WCP: What do you think will be the future of your field?
GH: If you’re talking about comics/graphic novels, then I’d say less print and more epubs. Which is sort of unfortunate. Even if you create flashy, interactive graphics, or a video for your ePub – why not just go ahead an animate it. Besides some of the small press books are better experienced in an analog world.

WCP: What local cons do you attend ? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?
GH: I don’t know Intervention. Shame on me. I’ve been to the Small Press Expo several times. I’ve even tried getting a table, but they’re always sold out. Maybe one will be available in time for my next graphic novel.

WCP: What’s your favorite thing about D.C.?
GH: The fact that the local economy is pretty much insulated from the rest of the country (or world, for that matter).

WCP: Least favorite?
GH: The fact that the local economy is pretty much insulated from the rest of the country...

WCP: What monument or museum do like to take visitors to?
GH: Without a doubt—my favorite monument to take visitors to is the FDR. On a summer night.

WCP: Do you have a website or blog?
GH: Facebook. Isn’t that sort of the same thing? I have a website, but it’s currently being used to promote my day job. But I DO in fact have a website for Pedestrian now.

Harris is scheduled to sign copies of Pedestrian at Big Planet Comics in Vienna, Va., on Sept. 29.

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