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the following interview was conducted on april 24th, 2005.
gary groth: It seems to me that you had a pretty early preoccupation with formal aspects of comics.
paul hornschemeier: Yeah, definitely.
gg: Did your studying philosophy have anything to do with that, do you think?
ph: I don't know, I'm not really
sure, I think from a very early age, I
had this tendency to want to tear
things apart, and mainly just do
things that completely made sense
as a whole, and I've known people
who said, oh I'm some kind of formalist
or something, and to me, it's
just, "Well, no, I just try to do cartoons
where everything in it makes
sense as a conceptual whole."
Portrait from sketcbook, after Steve Ditko
gg: Sequential appeared between
'99 and 2001; who were the cartoonists
you were looking at...
ph: Really, initially, it was just Dan
Clowes, he was the only person that
I had much exposure to because
there was one record store that carried
Eightball, and that was one reason
I was able to get a hold of his
stuff. I think...
gg: It certainly seems like Chris
Ware might have had an influence at
ph: You know, that's the funny
thing, I've been compared to Chris
a million times over, and I think the
first time I saw him... I read about
the existence of Chris Ware in this
book that I bought because it has
an interview with Dan Clowes in it;
I found out about Chris, and I
think that was probably, oh God, I
don’t know, I know I was on at least
Sequential #4 or #5 or something
like that. So I think that the really
weird experimental stuff that I did
I'd already done before I saw one of
his books. I did special order one of
his books while I was still living in
Columbus and that was the first
one I got, I think the next few I got
I actually got here in Chicago.
I came up here for a trip just to visit
Quimby's [bookstore], because I
was like "Oh, this guy designed his
store," which is what I thought at
the time. So I came up here and
checked that out, and I remember
giving copies of the first few
Sequentials to Quimby's, which,
when Forlorn Funnies came out, I
went and bought those copies,
because they were still there
[laughs]. So I think it was Dan
Clowes and, I mean, Robert Crumb
was certainly an influence, but it
was just whatever I could get my
hands on, certainly eventually
Chris Ware was influential — I
don’t think you can be paying
attention to comics these days and
not owe something to Chris' innovations
— who else? Dave Cooper,
Charles Burns, Kaz, just whoever
leaped in through the cracks of a
pathetic setup in my comics shop.
Actually, there’s another store in
Columbus that I started going to,
Monkey's Retreat, they're sort of
these old guys you would expect to
see working in a head shop or
something like that, in fact, the
place smells like a head shop. But
they had a lot of really great stuff,
like all the older Zap comics and all
this kind of stuff so that was the
point that I was able to pick up
some decent stuff. I think I started
reading Chester Brown and stuff
gg: In terms of the content of your
stories, your major preoccupation
seems to be with familial relationships.
ph: It was only pretty recently that
I realized that [laughs].
gg: Is that right?
ph: Yeah. I don't know, I don't
know what that's about [laughs].
But it's definitely true. I think
essentially that when I was growing
up, that was really the group that I
hung out with, I mean I hung out
with my two sisters and my parents
most of the time, I didn't really
have as many friends, because,
there was a lot of reasons, I was a
total dork, but we just really didn't
fit into to Georgetown all that well,
because where I came from a lot of
people had the hick accent, [in hick
accent] "talked like that," you know.
gg: There's an interior quality to
your best and most recent work.
ph: Right, and I think what has
always been the most interesting to
me is that there's this exterior reality
and then the interior reality of
what's going on inside people's
houses and inside their minds...