Nick Flynn's BEING FLYNN… the back story

Comics, Illustration, Plug

I first met Nick Flynn back in the fall of 1999, in Provincetown, Massachusetts. I had accompanied Sari there for her Fine Arts Work Center fellowship, a residency which would keep us in P-town through the winter and into the following spring. Nick was a second-year fellow, and Sari and I were immediately drawn to his charm, intelligence, and good humor.

Nick was a natural storyteller, and had some amazing stories to tell, about a life filled with drama, heartbreak, debauchery—all that good stuff. By trade, he was a poet—a good one—and over the years he and I did some collaborations, basically me adapting his poems into comics. One of the pieces, “Father Outside,” had to do with the time Nick was working in a homeless shelter and his long-estranged father arrived as a new client. Another piece, “Bag of Mice,” dealt with Nick’s mother’s suicide. In all, we did three collaborations, all of which were published in literary journals (and later published my me in The Vagabonds #2). The original art from our first piece, “Cartoon Physics, Part One,” even traveled as part of a multi-city comics art exhibition.

In 2004, Nick published a memoir, memorably titled Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. (That was a favorite phrase of his father’s.) Nick hoped to collaborate again with me on the cover of the book (which was being published by W.W. Norton, much later to be my publisher for The Influencing Machine.) So we worked together on some sketches. Long story short, Norton declined to use my art for the cover (though it was eventually published as a frontspiece in the British Faber & Faber edition). And I have to admit that the art they used instead, by Hon-Sum Cheng, is far superior.

So, fast forward eight years, and Nick’s book has been made into a feature film. Now called Being Flynn (you can see why they didn’t use the other title), it stars Paul Dano as Nick and the legendary Robert DeNiro as Nick’s father. Julianne Moore makes an appearance as Nick’s mom—not a bad cast! The film opened last week, so to commemorate it, I’m sharing the book’s rejected cover art.

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

"Father Outside" times three


I just discovered this: the Academy of American Poets has posted “Father Outside,” one of my poem-comics collaborations with Nick Flynn, on their website.

I really like the way they present the piece in three formats: the original poem in its text form, Nick reading it aloud, and our collaboration.

(This piece — along with two other collaborations I did with Nick — is published in The Vagabonds #2.)

Misc. horn tooting

A.D., Publicity

My mother Martha Rosler wrote, and I drew, a two-page comic (entitled “Scenes From an Illicit War: From Planet Invisible”), which has just been published in Silvana Editoriale’s System Error: War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. The book is a companion piece to an art exhibit of the same name (co-curated by Papesse head curator Lorenzo Fusi and New York- & Dhaka- based artist Naeem Mohaiemen) taking place at the Palazzo Papesse Centre for Contemporary Art in Siena, Italy (though May 6). I also have a couple of other war-related pieces (which can be read online here and here) in the System Error book.

Meanwhile, Nick Flynn & yours truly’s latest poem-comic, “Bag of Mice,” is printed in the March–April 2007 issue of World Literature Today, a special issue dedicated to “graphic literature” (and also featuring such notable names as Jessica Abel, Lynda Barry, Anders Nilsen, and Joe Sacco).

In addition, A.D. protagonist/AntiGravity magazine publisher Leo McGovern interviews me about A.D. in the new issue of AntiGravity, which coincides nicely with the brand-new A.D. Chapter 1: “Riders of The Storm,” now live on SMITH (And mentioned in an earlier post. Whew; busy day.).

Collaboration with poet Nick Flynn


I recently adapted a poem called “Cartoon Physics, Part 1,” by my friend Nick Flynn, into a 2-page comic. Our collaboration is due to be published in the fall issue of CrossRoads, the magazine of the Poetry Society of America. Nick Flynn is a poet who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and Provincetown, Massachusetts. He has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and from the MacDowell and Millay Colonies. His poems have appeared in the Paris Review, Ploughshares, and The Nation, among other journals and magazines, Some Ether, a book of his poems published by Graywolf Press, won a “Discovery”/The Nation Award, as well as the PEN/American Center’s Joyce Osterweil Award. I want to thank him for choosing me for this collaboration.