Just had dinner at my neighborhood sushi joint, Gen, with the awesome Berliner couple, cartoonist Andreas Michalke and his girlfriend Julia Tagert (as well as the equally awesome Nicholas Kahn, one-half of the art team Kahn & Selesnick). My connection to them was through my frequent collaborator, poet/memoirist Nick Flynn. Andi & Julia were visiting the States for a week, and we had the good fortune to meet up while our paths crossed. I wasn’t familiar with Andi’s work since it has yet to be published in English, so we got a chance to share war stories and trade books. (I fear he got the raw end of the deal, as all I was able to give him were The Vagabonds #1 & #2, while I came away with his beautiul Reprodukt tome BigBeatLand.)
It was interesting to compare notes and see how similar the histories of Germany and America are in terms of popular acceptance of the comics form. As with us, comics as a "serious" pursuit didn’t begin there until the late 1960s, and literary-type graphic novels are still an incipient field, with much of them coming in the form of translated books from France, Canada, and the U.S. We both got a laugh about the similarities of our respective comics convention cultures, with the people in silly costumes, the sad lonely men, and the inevitable groups of kids wanting drawings for their sketchbooks. Seems fan-boys the world over conform to the same sterotypes.
It was worth missing Phoebe’s bedtime tonight to get a taste of the traveling life again, to make new friends, and have a place to stay should I find myself in Berlin.