Review Fix chats with comic book artist and writer Jonathan Case, who discusses his new graphic novel, “The New Deal.” A departure from his more serious artwork with Jon Arcudi on “The Creep,” Case insists “The New Deal” is a book that he wants to draw smiles from, but it’s also one that’s reinvigorated his own love of writing.
Review Fix: What inspired this book?
Jonathan Case: My love for classic movies and plays, New York, and shenanigans. I love the Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn vehicles, but I wanted to tell a story about the players in the background: The black maid, the bellhop. I was especially interested in their roles amongst the glamour and excess in a place like the Depression-Era Waldorf Astoria. What opportunities did they carve out in that period, when there was so much social and economic upheaval?
Review Fix: What do you think makes it special?
Case: I wanted to tell an entertaining story about a couple of ‘small’ people with big ambitions. No vampires, aliens, or haunted hotel rooms. Just a fast, light story that stands on the strength of their relationship to each other and the wild world around them. I also did my best to make it visually rich.
Review Fix: For those that appreciated your work in “The Creep,” how is this book different?
Case: The Creep is one of several books I’ve drawn for other writers. That means a very different tone, a different author voice. What you get in The New Deal is my particular expression as a cartoonist, whatever that is. My first book, Dear Creature, is very different from The New Deal as well, but I guess they share my sense of whimsy. Arcudi’s story in The Creep is very real, and very dark. The New Deal is a romp.
Review Fix: What do you think you learned about yourself through writing this?
Case: It reaffirmed my love for dialogue and writing in general. Having spent the last few years mostly drawing other people’s stories, it was refreshing to get back to my own. Storytelling is what I enjoy the most, and that’s important to claim when many publishers and editors see my work as illustration. Just illustrating isn’t the creative high for me that it is for some. I need to tell stories.
Review Fix: How do you want this book to be remembered?
Case: With smiles.
Review Fix: Bottom line, why should someone check this out?
Case: If you love retro Americana, if you love rooting for underdogs, or maybe if you just want some historical fiction that doesn’t take itself too seriously, this is for you.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Case: Something for young readers that I’ve been working on a long time, but had to set aside for a while. Very excited to get back to it. In the near term, one issue of Superman, American Alien, and a last chapter of Batman ’66, both for DC Comics.