Review Fix chats with writer Punk Sanderson who discusses his new graphic novel, “The Mysterious Case of Billy’s G String.” Done in tandem with his artist son, Derek Singleton, the two continue Punk’s adventures of “The Vicar” in a much more colorful way. With the promise of a second book on the way as well, the two have a set of goals that will continue to fuel their creative juices.
Review Fix: How did the idea for the book come together?
Punk Sanderson: I was sitting in a recording studio studio late one night with Robert Fripp when I wondered “Why are there no whodunnits based in the music business. There have been series based in antiques, horse racing. Why not our world. After all it’s perceived to be glamorous and famously corrupt.” Robert Fripp’s reply was “because you haven’t written them yet!” I accepted the challenge and the world of The Vicar was born.
Review Fix: Who influences you creatively?
Sanderson: With a Graphic Novel there are two areas – the text and the pictures. The text was originally written as a standalone novel (and has been published like that). The novel was influenced by the great recent comic writers such as Stephen Fry, Nick Hornby and Helen Fielding. As a graphic novel it’s maybe slightly unusual as I am far more influenced by Asterix and Tintin, both of which I love than by Batman or Superman.
Review Fix: What have you learned about yourself as a creator through this series?
Sanderson: The need to be endlessly patient and maintain the “power to believe”. I wrote the first book over fifteen years ago, and in the intervening period, I was constantly teased with the promise of “success”. Two film scripts were commissioned, Channel Four did a draft for a TV series, and EMI were interested in the music album by the central character, The Vicar . And so we kept waiting. But after fifteen years of being dragged through meetings and endless briefings, nothing had actually happened. At which point, we decided to stop believing in all these promises and to self-publish the books.
Review Fix: How important is the art to the series? How was the look and feel decided on?
Sanderson: The idea for the Graphic Novels was first proposed by my literary agent, Luke Janklow, who began searching for an appropriate artist. After four years of looking, we had abandoned the idea as we had not found a good fit. At that point my son, who was fourteen when we first started looking and was then eighteen at art college, asked to submit something. His vision of the central characters was a perfect fit. He was only eighteen when he drew the first book – and he infinitely prefers the second book (released next year), as the drawings, while similar, are more mature. But then that’s art of being an artist. Our art grows with us.
Review Fix: Why should someone read it?
Sanderson: It’s a fun read, and part of a unique multimedia world that has taken over a decade to create. The world of the Vicar encompasses novels, graphic novels, video-blogs and music albums – as well as an app of drummer jokes with cartoon caricatures of famous rockstars. Assuming we have done our job well (not for me to say) it’s a very English, humorous take on the world of music, in which I earn my daily crust.
Review Fix: What are your goals for the series?
Sanderson: World domination. Any artist who tells you otherwise is lying! We all put our lives into our art because we believe that it’s valuable and that everyone should like it. Before starting, we planned a series of seven books and albums, and we intend to deliver them all.
Review Fix: What’s next for the series?
Sanderson: The second Graphic Novel, “The Absurd Nonsense of The Orange Eyebrow” is complete – ready for release in the New Year. And the third novel, “Katgirl’s Ghost and the Disappearing Discs” is also ready. So lots more to come.