The Projects kicks off tonight at Floating World Comics with a book release party for Sammy Harkham's Everything Together and Jonny Negron's collection Negron, both published by Picturebox. Negron is a Brooklyn based artist known for bizarre erotic work that is awesome and disturbing. Sammy Harkham is the creator and editor of the innovative anothology Kramers Ergot and the serial comic Crickets.
The event starts at 6 p.m. and will feature a Q&A with Chris Cilla, Jason T. Miles, and Matthew Thurber joining the artists for a panel discussion. Floating World is downtown on the corner of NW 4th and Couch St. I emailed Sammy some questions. Hit the jump to read the interview!
MERCURY: Tell me a little bit about your new collection, Everything Together. It contains almost every comic you've made over your career. Was it fun to look back, or more necessary, from a publishing standpoint? Does the time you spend putting together Kramers Ergot cause you to focus less on your own comics?
SAMMY: Yes, doing Kramers Ergot totally takes away from doing my own comics, since it takes up all my creative brainspace thinking about other people's comics, and the book as a whole. But I love doing it, and it feels essential for me to do as well. What I am doing now is not letting myself do another Kramers until I finish this big story I am currently working on. I want to work on the comic so i can finish it and start on the next Kramers, which is going to be amazing.
Eveything Together is many of my comics, but not all of them. I didnt re-read most of the work when editing the book, that would have been too distracting. I figured it was time to gather all this material in an easy to access format. now or never.
MERCURY: Where did the idea for Kramers Ergot begin? Were you surprised by its evolution? What direction would you like it to take in the future?
SAMMY: It began as something to do with my friends in high school. It was a zine very much inspired by the zines I would get at record stores in Sydney, with band interviews, comics, jokes, art, whatever. It was something to do. I am not surprised by its evolution as I work on an issue, but maybe after, years later, after the fact. I hope Kramers Ergot gets better and better with each issue. That's the goal.
MERCURY: Any thoughts on Portland's large and diverse comics scene? Which artists are you checking in with while you're in town? What do you think of this Projects idea?
SAMMY: My favorite writer at the moment is Patrick DeWitt, who lives in Portland. And Chris Cilla is probably the most under-appreciated cartoonist in America, and he lives in Portland as well. I hope to bother both of these men while in town. I think The Projects will be awesome. You haven't had a Friday night till you have seen Matthew Thurber perform live.
MERCURY: You touch on Jewish culture and ideas in your work, but it's not an omnipresent theme. Can you talk about how religion influences your work?
SAMMY: I dont know if i am interested in religion as much as just tracing the grace in mundane life. As a writer I am interested in closed off cultures that exist unto themselves. A midwest biker gang in the early sixties has as many social codes, ways of speak, and ways of dress as Hasidic Jews in the 1880's. I am into that. as a reader and cartoonist, I like getting deep into other worlds.