03 August 2011

O’Connor on the “Surgence”

I first encountered George O’Connor’s art when he illustrated some editions of L. Frank Baum’s lesser-known novels for Books of Wonder, his employer at the time. His cover art didn’t always convince me he’d read the books carefully, but the drawing for American Fairy Tales had definite personality.

Since then O’Connor has established himself in our two dominant forms of visual-verbal storytelling: picture books and comics. His Journey into Mohawk Country is an eye-opening and entertaining interpretation of a historical document, but his series on Greek gods seems to be bringing more sales.

Seven Imps recently ran an interview with O’Connor in which he talked about being able to find respect in the comics form:
I’m not sure “resurgence” is the term I’d use — it makes it sound as if graphic novels had previously reached this level and retreated. Like you said, they seem to be more popular than ever. They’ve moved into uncharted territory regarding their mainstream popularity and acceptance, particularly by librarians and teachers. Is “surgence” a word?

So, with that being said, I love it. I grew up always wanting to be a creator of both comics and picture books, but when the time came to try and break in to the business, I went for picture books first, because comics as a medium seemed to have a hard time being taken seriously. For so many years, the only way to make a viable living at it was to draw superhero books. (Not that there’s anything wrong with them.) Now, in incredibly short order (and I credit this largely to the teachers and librarians coming aboard), comics have blossomed into this amazing field that just a few years ago would have seemed impossible.
Longtime Oz and Ends readers may recall that I’ve attributed that change to Judd Winick’s Pedro and Me.

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