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Diaflogue: BEFOR I WUS BORN an interview with Zak Sally
Written by Jason Miles | Filed under Zak SallyDiaflogue 2 Dec 2010 8:11 AM

An interview with cartoonist, publisher, musician, professor and friend Zak Sally. Prompted by the release of Sammy The Mouse #3 and Zak's forthcoming appearance and performance at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery 4th Anniversary Party.

SAMMY THE MOUSE 3

JASON T. MILES: Sammy The Mouse is one of the funnest comics I've read.

I think it's hilarious, it makes me laugh out loud and I find myself happier after reading and re-reading each issue to date. How much fun is it for you to make these comics? Is the process as excruciating as you describe in Like A Dog?

ZAK SALLY: Yeah, Sammy is a totally different deal; I really and truly enjoy writing and drawing the thing. I won't say that it's all roses, there's always still the problem solving and running up against your own limitations and inevitable crises of faith, but, you know: that's COMICS! There definitely is a feeling of "holy crap this is great there's nothing I'd rather be doing" more often than not while working on Sammy.

And yeah, in a lot of ways Sammy was a reaction to the whole thing I had going on with comics up until the Like A Dog and Recidivist material; by the time I finished Recidivist #3 I just thought – this is ridiculous. If I can't find some way to get some kind of happiness through this then I ought to just give up, for real. I'm supposed to LOVE comics, not hate them. I wasn't sure it'd work at the time, but it did, somehow.

RECIDIVIST 3

I think I'd gotten too wrapped up in that "comics are SERIOUS" thing, and forgotten what a great medium comics are for just...telling a story. That writing an entertaining, engaging comic is... as big a deal as some snooty-assed art comic. Like those old issues of Hate ... man, each one came out and it was JAM PACKED-- after reading it you felt like you'd been to the free buffet at the casino but all the food was GOOD: more story than you could handle, at least a couple for-real-laugh-out-loud moments, great characters and art, a LETTERS PAGE... GOD that was a great comic book. Pete Bagge is an AMERICAN TREASURE!!

Sammy is still pretty slow and boring compared to that stuff, but what you wrote there at the top makes me feel really good; I want it to be fun, and funny.

I think it's funny, and it makes ME happy, so...

My only problem is that I can't find more time to work on them, get out at least a couple a year or something.

MILES: As you know, I'm also a big Bagge fan and similar to his work Sammy possesses a real sense of terror and consequence. In Sammy I think the hardest laffs quiver shoulder to shoulder with disaster. Can you speak a little more to how you're making comedy with dread and horror in Sammy? I mean, the skeletal bastard is simply awful! and when Pat the rabbit bartender hammers a nail into Feekes forehead...!!!

HG FEEKES

SALLY: Actually, I'm not entirely sure I can speak to that. Again, sort of in response to how I used to make comics, I really consciously set out with Sammy to not... over-think too much (as that hadn't got me anywhere all that useful in the past). I mean, yeah-- I've got a tendency to take stuff too seriously in real life, but I don't really walk around all day in a haze of existential dread, you know? I'm a FUNNY GUY, and... I think really hard about the story, and the structure and the mood and all that; I really do sweat the details but when I'm writing and drawing the thing, a lot of it is really, "Does this feel right?" If it does you nail it to the ground and if not you burn it off (note: this is harder than it sounds).

If something makes ME laugh, then... it's right, period. Thinking TOO much about it will kill it dead (I know this from experience).

And, you know: the "terror" of life is so subjective, and so is humor.

some folks will say that ALL humor is based on suffering... but all those people are pretentious, insufferable windbags, and can go get fucked.

With that said, I think when Sammy's all said and done, what it might be "about" is consequence. Maybe. We'll see I guess.

I need to work on being more inscrutable and mysterious: it increases sales.

How am i doing so far?

MILES: I think you're doing good-- wait! Do you mean "how am I doing at being inscrutable and mysterious?" or "how am I doing sales-wise?"

SALLY: (long, uncomfortable pause.)

I'm not telling.

MILES: Ok. Stepping back a bit... are you sure not ALL comedy comes from suffering?

SALLY: Hmm. Maybe you should go get fucked? No you're probably right. Or somebody is. Somewhere.

MILES: I want to try to get at some point of origin with Sammy. Where is all this stuff coming from, not just the comedy (and suffering) but the world and characters and colors? Has this stuff always been with you?

SALLY: Uh....ok; I should've known you'd make me put this stuff into words.

I really don't think any of this was CONSCIOUS, but... certainly, starting Sammy was a very definite and purposeful change in what I wanted to do with comics, in that I knew I no longer wanted to ALLOW MY OWN COMICS to MAKE ME MISERABLE AND INSANE which just so happened to coincide with some pretty heavy duty changes in my life: I quit the rock band, got married, bought a house, quit drinking and smoking and had my son Isaac in a pretty short stretch of time. I think the biggest factor in how Sammy looks and feels was that… my trying to figure out how to ENJOY making comics; and in doing that, it inevitably leads you to thinking about a time in your life when you enjoyed READING comics. Not through the filters of adulthood and "Art" and all that, but just that really pure..."I'm reading this because I LIKE IT, and it MAKES ME HAPPY." And besides, having a kid also just makes you think about that time of life, and being a kid, and how those things affected you back then and why they affected you.

BASTARD

I mean, there's a LOT of stuff that I'm remembering or half-remembering from childhood in Sammy, and I'm not questioning that or trying to analyze the hell out of it, but it's there, and it's semi-purposeful… "that skeletal bastard" you referred to (whose name is actually "Him") is lifted directly from one of the first drawings I ever remember doing. I still have this crazy memory of drawing it so I searched it out and luckily my Mom still had it... You know, it's hard to have peaked artistically art such an early age.

BEFOR I WUS BORN

Seriously; I hope to someday do some comics and stories that my kids (and possibly other people's kids) can enjoy. Sammy isn't that kind of book by a long shot, but it's a quantum leap closer than anything I've done previously. I think it takes a very specific kind of intelligence and maturity to write and draw something that a kid will ENJOY… they do not like to be talked down to, pandered to, or lied to. It's very difficult to fool a kid in some ways (and yes I know in some ways they are really easy to fool), and if you read the best kids books, they treat kids like what they are… people. People who haven't really learned the finer points of bullshit quite yet.

There's this visual stuff… from whatever sources, comics, movies, etc and I think it just burns its way into your brain when you're a kid, you never forget it. Some folks feel like there's some VERY SPECIFIC touch points that I'm hitting in Sammy, even to the degree that they think it's some kind of post-modern take on an extant set of characters... which is horrifying to me. This is not and NEVER WAS my intention in any way shape or form. In fact it makes me ill to think it's being taken as a pastiche or something... not that I can't see people's reasons, just that however delusional I may seem, it was never, ever a conscious thing on my part). Never. I'm just trying to enjoy letting it all... I've used the term "vomit it up," but vomiting isn't fun and this mostly is.

And, like I said: I think that might be a bit of the "origin" you're talking about here, but it really is not something I'm "trying" to do... I'm just trying to... be true to this idea I've got, this story I'm creating that frankly is starting to write itself the farther I go with it.

And maybe the fact that it's all that stuff but ALSO it's, you know, got my experiences as a man pushing 40 banging against these really... kind of innocent childhood stuff that's making things terrifying.

Crap; I forgot to be inscrutable and mysterious.

MILES: Ah, being inscrutable and mysterious is overrated anyways... speaking of inscrutable and mysterious, what can you tell our readers about the seemingly unrelated panels of lamps and light switches?

SALLY: Nothing.

SAMMY THE MOUSE

MILES: Is the disembodied voice Sammy talks to God? You? Are you god? I have to ask.

SALLY: No.

SAMMY THE MOUSE

MILES: You have quite the reputation for being... grumpy--

SALLY: Really? That's too bad. Am I really that grumpy?

MILES: Well... yeah, but thats ok. I've just heard stories about people encountering you at conventions in the 90's and... but you're happier now and you're also a professor!

SALLY: As far as being grumpy, the glib answer would be "I got on some medication," but... I don't know; I wouldn't describe myself as a terribly easygoing guy, but I'm nowhere near as wound up as I used to be. Some of that's lifestyle stuff, some just getting older and such. Having a family has really changed the way I view the world for the better I think.

And, uh… I'm not a professor: I don't know what my title is, but it ain't that. I've been teaching comics full time at the college level for the past 2 years here in Minneapolis (at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, or MCAD). It happened because MCAD is one of the few places in the country that offers a degree in Comic Art, and they needed someone, so I gave it a shot. And, you know… I was offered a salary, with benefits and health insurance, and MAKING comics sure as shit ain't paying the bills. I was absolutely terrible at first, because teaching is a SKILL that you LEARN just like any other skill, but... I've always had kind of a (slightly irrational) beef with higher education, and art school in particular: "you can't TEACH someone this stuff!!!" I'm completely untrained in, um... everything, and so the idea that I'm teaching anyone this stuff is somewhat ludicrous.

With that said, I've really come to enjoy teaching a LOT, and I think maybe my (and my generation as a whole) experiences learning comics "the hard way and on your own" makes me a pretty good teacher, as does the fact that I have no idea what a college class is SUPPOSED to be like in the first place, because I never had that experience myself. There simply WAS no program for learning comics; and having to pull them apart from the inside out has been a really interesting experience for me, too. There's an insane amount of skills and knowledge required to being a good (or even decent) cartoonist; I definitely think there is a real and tangible benefit to having a directed, focussed program shown you by someone who can help guide you through that process. At its best, it really puts you through your paces.

You see folks with incredible amounts of God-given talent just kind of piss it out the window, and you see folks who seem to not have a shred of talent really dig into what's being shown to them, and it really can be miraculous in some ways. You see people learn stuff from week to week that it took you YEARS to grasp on your own. And, I don't want to sound like an idiot here, but there's been some times where I've actually been able to... use my experiences in comics in a way that I can actually help people learn. And it's one of the better feelings I've ever had in my life; it actually beats, you know... playing in a rock band or some of those other things that are supposed to be awesome but are often just kind of strange and don't make any sense.

You didn't ask all that though. I just went on and on about it.

Yeah, teaching. I like it, and would like to keep doing it on some level. Full time was a little much, but...

MILES: Whatever you say, professor... Who is H.G. Feekes?

SALLY: Check one box: He's me. He's not me. He's the guy who held my pants up for 6 years. He's a duck. All of the above.

SAMMY THE MOUSE 2

MILES: I like all the cameo's in Sammy: John P.'s Racky Raccoon (issue 1), Mr. Mike's Carl Urbanski (issue 1), Kim Deitch's Waldo (issue 3) and Crumb's Weirdo #16 cover (issue 3). Can you explain why you've included other cartoonists' characters in YOUR comic?

SALLY: Well, again, I just felt like I should; it makes perfect sense to me. When I wrote earlier about how Sammy is a result of my remembering how I LOVE comics, I just thought it was a gimme to include some of those characters. I'm not sure if it's a wink or a nod or what, but... there's comics history and then there's Comics History and then there's MY PERSONAL HISTORY WITH COMICS, which probably plays a bigger role in my life than I'm comfortable admitting.

People think of John Porcellino as this one type of cartoonist, but those early Racky Raccoon stories are HILARIOUS. Nobody knows who Carl Urbanski is, but I do. Mr. Mike never really gave a shit about comics (unfortunately, because he was pretty damn good...), which is why I felt perfectly justified in flat-out stealing that character from him (also he said it was ok). All the rest are cameos, but Urbanski actually has a pretty major role in the story. I gotta email Pete Bagge and see if he'll let The Goon On The Moon be in the next issue. Or Chuckie Boy. Or Stretchpants.

They all count, and it's my goddamned comic.

MILES: Visually, Sammy is quite different from the majority of the work in Like A Dog. What led to the addition of color and how has it changed your process and the way you think about comics?

SALLY: Color has never been a priority of mine... all the best cartoonists do perfectly well in black and white, and just getting good with those tools is enough to spend your life studying.

To be honest, I can't even remember specifically what led to the color process I've got going in Sammy. It was mostly a response to the fact that the books were to be presented in 2 colors, which got me thinking "well, how much can I get out of that? What can I do that'd be interesting?" So I somehow landed on the insane process I'm doing now. There's the real "normal" use of a second color, which can be used to fantastic effect (I think of Clowes' Ghost World here) just for mood and tone and visual stuff, but then there's stuff that REALLY sticks out visually, like that Mazzucchelli strip from Rubber Blanket (where you realize he isn't using any "outlines", he's just creating and delineating through how he does or doesn't use or overlay the colors, which is just... unbelievable...) or what Debbie Dreschler did with Nowhere. I think Sammy falls somewhere in between those, in terms of how the color gets used.

There's no question that color affects the story… it's something I've been learning on the fly. Take a B&W panel and "color" it. Now fill it with red. Now fill it with baby blue. Each one of those panels will read differently, you can't avoid it. You've got to take it into consideration; for me, I've found that 1) it should be there for a reason and 2) the less you "notice" it, the better. That new Captain Easy Sundays book has been a revelation to me; the colors are so fucking beautiful, yet they don't detract from the story in the least; any time a "technique" is interfering with what's important on the page, it's trouble.

I'm happy with how the colors in Sammy work for the most part… when it works, it really adds depth to the page, and there's places where it helps the storytelling in reasonably subtle ways, as well. There's some spots where it's NOT successful, and I'll have to change later (in book collections or whatever). Almost invariably these are the spots where the "technique" calls attention to itself, which is a nice way of saying "I didn't know what the hell I was doing." It really all needs to be in the service of the storytelling, period.

There's a part of me that would someday like to see the thing in full color, when it's all done. I wouldn't want to do the coloring, myself, I think... there'd have to be good reason too, I suppose; most modern coloring looks really boring to me; I love flat Tintin colors as much as the next guy, but... there's that old school and old world color sep stuff that is just unparalleled to me… like the Easy stuff I just mentioned, but that's the tail end of the early century newspaper strips, or those Norakuro books. I'm not talking some nostalgia thing, I'm saying they are just indescribably understated and beautiful; there's an artistry there that is incredible. Too bad it's a totally dead art form.

MILES: Its hard for me to imagine your work in full color. Your stuff makes sense in black and white or 2 color...

SALLY: Yeah, I know… but I'm still gonna try it one of these days. I'm drawing the Frankenstein book for color... we'll see.

LIKE A DOG

MILES: Your comics have always reminded me of homemade tattoos: personal, symbolic and PERMANENT. In fact, while we were putting together Like A Dog I couldn't stop thinking about that tattoo on your leg. Whats the story behind that?

SALLY: It's some teeth. And a screw. The "story" is... let's see; I was living in a punk rock house on Webster street in Oakland; maybe '92 or something, '91. In any case my friend Spanky says there's this woman who just landed at the Maxipad (yeah, that's right... all the ladies from Spitboy lived there... and Jason, come to think of it, who's in Green Day now) who does tattoos. So we go over there and meet her and get drunk; she's this tough-ass scottish woman who's just come over from a couple months in Thailand... basically she's been all over the world, just paying her way with the tattoo gun she hauls along with her. Now I hear this and think: "that's for me." I guess even then I knew that making MONEY drawing comics would be a tough deal, and also knew that "illustration" was… well, I'm not sure the idea of being an "illustrator" even crossed my mind as a valid thing. Anyway I knew I could draw some, and thought that was a skill that I might be able to do something with. Maybe I could pay my bills with tattooing and do my comics on the side, you know? So I say to Morag (that was her name) will you let me learn how to do this and she says sure you bet. Do one on yourself then do one on ME. So I came up with this design and got a bottle of whiskey and spent… I don't know, 6 hours trying to figure out how to do this on my leg. Bzzzzzzzt. Originally the drawing had these crazy big cartoon eyes and neat concentric circles but after 6 hours my leg was shaking (and I was drunk) and I just said "that's it I'm done." They came home from a party or something and I was so whacked out Morag was absolutely convinced that I was a junkie (I wasn't). Then I did a bulldozer on Morag's arm and the whole time she was just yelling at me "that line won't stay; you've got to punch deeper" or whatever, and I can honestly say it's the most stressful drawing I've ever done in my life. And basically, drawing doesn't have all that much to do with being a good tattoo artist: it's a real manual skill, a real knowledge of how skin takes ink or whatever. I didn't stick with it... decided it was too hard, or didn't like it. I quit.

It's kind of too bad, because that was the beginning of the tattoo "boom" where it seemed like every human under the age of 30 started getting tattoos (a "trend" that, unbelievably, still shows very little signs of fading). It was actually a GOOD IDEA for me, and if I'd have stuck with it a bit, I probably could've made some kind of living (doesn't Sophie Crumb pay bills with this? I thought i heard that somewhere...). Unlike comics.

Last I heard, Morag had a couple prominent shops operating in Edinburgh. Of course, I was totally in love with her, but she and Spanky hooked up and they were together for a couple years. Morag was pretty awesome. Spanky too. long time ago.

MILES: Thats a great story-- wait! Back up! What's this about Frankenstein!?!

SALLY: He's this monster. Big, green. Got bolts in his neck--

MILES: Are you doing a Frankenstein comic? I'm trying to get you to spill the beans

SALLY: --not so good at talking. Doesn't like fire. No, ok, I'll tell you… I was teaching a class and making everybody try to draw in the style that is the POLAR OPPOSITE of the way they draw "naturally" (they HATE this...) and sometimes when I'm being so outwardly cruel I'll do it too as some kind of gesture of good faith, and pow... there it was. Just this drawing of Frankenstein half way between Dick Briefer and, I dunno; Hal Foster. Don't know where it came from or why.

And, it was at this time that I was also making my periodic bid to SELL OUT, and BIG: like "hey, everyone, I've got this crazy SALEABLE idea and I'm READY TO GO. You know all those "graphic novels" that are doing really well and everyone loves them? This is LIKE THAT; I'm fully prepared to have editors tell me what to do and how to draw and all that crap, just PAY ME. Nominated for Eisners, blah blah blah. Just give me BARELY ENOUGH MONEY TO LIVE ON while I do this thing and we're good to go." Talking to agents, getting editors numbers, all that shit.

And no one had ANY INTEREST WHATSOEVER. You know, waving my arms in the air "PLEASE LET ME SELL THE FUCK OUT."

And, not a single nibble.

Which is good, because if I'm TRYING to sell out and no one'll have me, then what's the point in not doing EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT? I might as well do the dumbest, most ridiculous and unsellable idea I've ever had. So. 62-page European-style Frankenstein story. Self-contained, full color, totally silent.

The art style of Sammy was a very conscious effort on my part to loosen up from my previous style; more about an expressive kind of energetic thing than "good" drawing. But I miss some of that... drawing the heck out of stuff. I wanted to have an outlet for that, too... anyway I was pretty gung ho on it and thumbnailed 1/ 2 of it, did a couple test pages full-sized, in ink. It's not so much that I lost steam on it as that... Sammy has got to be my priority, I think.

FRANKENSTEIN BY ZAK SALLY

The story... I've got enough that I've GOT TO do it someday. I just don't know when that day will be, right now; I've got a couple hundred more Sammy pages banging on my door.

I mean, if anyone reading this wants to give me 30 grand, I'll have it done right away.

I'm sorry that i'm swearing so much.

MILES: I'll be counting the days until your Frankenstein comic comes out.

SALLY: Keep counting, brother.

MILES: It sounds great and from the way you've described it to me in other conversations I can already see it.

SALLY: Wait... you've got 30 grand? whoo hoo!

MILES: Regarding the BUSINESS of comics... and since you've brought up MONEY and SELLING OUT... what's the deal? You go from searing, oblique, from hunger comics (Like A Dog) to Sammy The Mouse and Frankenstein? Are you trying to plant your flag in the world of popular entertainment? Are you really trying to be saleable?

SALLY: More like trying to plant my flag in UNpopular entertainment.

I think I touch on this a bit in the notes to Like A Dog, but... I'm really not sure who that early work was for. Or what it was... it wasn't stories, and it sure as hell wasn't meant to entertain anyone. I was just trying to figure some stuff out.

It wasn't fun to make, and probably not much fun to read. This is a much bigger, longer conversation than we can have here, but... as I was coming into comics, they were still in this transition phase... certain amazing stuff was going on, but as far as proving that comics could be a mature medium of expression to the world at large, there was still a pretty big chip on comics' shoulder; a kind of "yeah, PROVE IT." In that time a lot of comics got very serious in some ways, be it subject or as Art or just in terms of intent. Comics needed to prove they could be "real" art, or literature, or whathaveyou. And my stuff... I don't think it was all that experimental, but it was definitely trying to address some stuff that has nothing to do with standard entertainment or storytelling. In any case, all that stuff is a dead horse now. Comics have proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that they're plenty capable of handling whatever the hell the cartoonist wants or needs them to. But there's still that holdover of "seriousness" somehow… the idea that "Art" and "Entertainment" are somehow mutually exclusive... you know… "real art" isn't ENTERTAINING; "entertainment" is a crappy TV show or one of the million crappy movies that come out every year. Or that "I bless the rains down in africa" song.

I bought it somewhat too; it's a really thin line. I don't want to make SHIT, but I'm not going to be afraid of being entertaining anymore, that it somehow automatically lessens the work. Comics can be a blast to read, and that's what I want; I want to be so excited by the story I'm telling that the reader HAS to come along with me (and if they're not interested I don't want them messing up our fun anyway).

I think I used to be afraid of having an audience. This is no longer the case; I believe deeply in what I'm doing here, and would like as many people as possible to read it, period.

The "selling out" stuff in the previous answer is half kidding, of course, but... there's lines, you know? That particular thing I was pitching I think had some legs to it. John P. probably never would have done that Thoreau bio on his own, and I know it was strange for him at times to have an editor when he's so used to being his own editor after 20 years of King-Cat, but that book is still 100% John P; as a reader, I'm really glad he did it, and as a friend, it was great to see him make some $ off his labor. It wasn't a million bucks, but it wasn't the (LITERALLY) 5 cents an hour you get off of making "alternative" comics, you know? The thing I was pitching might not be my very first choice of what I'd spend my time working on, but hell: it'd be 1) a comic book 2) written and drawn by me that 3) I'd get paid for. I'd get paid to make comics. There is nothing wrong with getting paid to do a job, and doing the best you're able to do given the river you're swimming in, as long as... the river isn't made entirely of excrement. "Selling out" I think is... pandering, or doing stuff for a buck that you morally or ethically just can't get behind. There is PLENTY of that horrible, soul-sucking garbage in the world, and it's no joke. It's a real thing. But the plain fact is: you have to find a way to AFFORD to keep doing this; the unfortunate fact is that it's very, very difficult to make any kind of living doing "non-mainstream" comics. I'm not a kid anymore... I've got a mortgage, 2 (awesome) children, responsibilities. I am NOT complaining; I wish it were different and maybe someday it will be, but... most people get paid to do shit that they HATE doing. For their whole lives, sometimes. Who the hell gets to do exactly what they want to in this life, anyway?

I'm really not trying to be saleable, or selling out. I am doing what I love doing, how I want to do it. Insert cliché here, but it's the damn truth. I AM 1000% invested in telling THIS STORY, and in making it as engaging, immersive and entertaining as possible. And, obviously, Sammy is exactly the story I want to tell, and with Fantagraphics, I get to tell it EXACTLY how I want to tell it, period. You guys are pretty goddamn amazing in that respect, and sometimes I think that people forget Fantagraphics' role in letting cartoonists develop that way. In fact I'm not sure what comics would look like without Fanta, sometimes.

SAMMY THE MOUSE 1

I'm realizing something about Sammy recently. I don't know how this is going to sound to the rest of the world, but... Look: you're in the "arts", or whatever, and you're in for the long haul, in whatever discipline. It's your vocation. At a certain point you begin to be able to see some recurring patterns, or peaks and valleys, creatively. Sometimes you're driving, sometimes it's driving you, etc. There's times when you're totally lost and you keep doing stuff just because you have to, be it $ or compulsion or inertia or 100 other things. Sometimes you're floundering, it just happens (and sometimes floundering even works out ok, because you stumble onto something...). But sometimes... sometimes you're NOT. Sometimes you know perfectly well what you're doing.

I've had this feeling a (very) few times in my life, most notably a certain period with Low. Just by years of experience and honing our aesthetic and touring and whatever else, we were just....ON. We just KNEW what we were doing, how we were doing it, and that we were capable of delivering if we just kept our wits about us and did or work. We weren't the BEST, but there was nobody who could touch... our little corner of sound. Nobody else in the world could do that thing, because it was OUR THING, and in that sense, we were unstoppable. It wasn't chest-beating or cocksure. It was a very good feeling. I know when I interviewed Jaime Hernandez he said he felt something like that about the "Death of Speedy". Stevie Wonder in the 70's. Whatever. You're just... certain. Certain about what you are doing. And in all honesty, that's the way I feel about Sammy. I'm not saying "it's TOTAL GENIUS" or equating myself to any of those artists I just mentioned or anything like that, I'm just saying that's what Sammy is for me. Maybe people will like it, maybe not, but for me... this is IT (and you also get enough experience to know that when you get to that spot, you better make the best of it because it's a window that can slam shut, too, real quick-like...). I've spent longer than most LOOKING for what I'm doing, and now... I'm here. I know what I need to do, I know where this is going, and I can see what it's going to look like when it's all wound up 7 years from now or whenever… and it's incredibly exciting to me, in a way that makes sales and money and all that of that other stuff not get to me so much. And on that level, I want very much for people to read the damn thing. I'm NOT doing comics "for me" anymore... I'm doing comics for PEOPLE TO READ; that is their point, that is their PURPOSE, that's why i'm making them.

Telling stories is something human beings have ALWAYS DONE. Always. it's what i'm doing right now, and I'm trying to do the best job I can with that.

God, I love comics so much. They will ruin you. It's sad. And awesome.

ZAK SALLY




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