Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Engine Summer by John Crowley: Comic For Whazamo Open Book Toronto

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Wonderful comic writer, journalist and a film maker Ian Daffern, let me participate on his Whazamo Comic project for Open Book Toronto. I am very excited and grateful for his awesome write up on my work. Thank you Ian!

To be honest, I panicked and panicked about this project. Ian also asked people like Charlene Chua, Michael Cho and Kalman Andrasofszky. They draw REAL COMIC BOOK COVERS and shit (and I'm their huge fan). Who the hell am I?!? I felt so inappropriate, very insecure. I spent many sleepless nights writing it. Thanks again Ian for being so patient with me.

If you are curious about my comics... you can read almost all my complete comics for free at this page (click the speech bubble!):

The Whazamo comic I did is about the book Engine Summer. It is my favourite book and John Crowley is my favourite author in the world. Absolutely. Someone told me having a 'favourite list' is not cool, but I definitely have a favourite list. In my opinion, no other author spreads magic and dusty longing like John Crowley. Engine Summer is about a boy going on a journey to become a story/legend and to find the girl he fell in love with. The setting is in a post-apocalyptic world, few millennia after the end of our civilization. The earth ecosystem has changed by the apocalypse as well as the extra-terrestrial influence. Pink fungus is alien origin and it is part of human and animal biology. Everyone is sort of addicted to the fungus and it lets them hallucinate. Not in a negative way, but the way South American shamans use drugs to communicate with god/spirit animals. Makes you think of Dune, "He who controls the Spice controls the universe!" but it isn't. There is not a hint of greed or hunger for power in this peaceful world. I did not want to come out of Engine Summer's magical dreamy world. Oh and there definitely is darkness. It is post-apocalypse after all. I cannot read any book without some darkness in it. It's one of those books you don't want it to end.

I first encountered John Crowley's work in Orson Scott Card's anthology, Future on Ice. His short story, "Snow" was and is the best short story I've ever read (for me at least). It is about memory, loss and letting go. The story reaches, grabs my heart and squeezes it. Orson Scott Card had the best introduction for Snow: "in a tight confines of a short story like Snow, he can take the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and make a crystal out of it, small but complex and multifaceted, beautiful even as the breath of entropy melts it before your eyes."

Crowley's fucking brilliant.
His works used to be really hard to find. (oh my late teen & early twenties spent looking for his books in used/vintage bookstores!) But they've been mostly republished in 2002 by Prennial, making them very accessible. Snow can be found in Novelties and Souvenirs collection or The Best of the Best (it IS the best of the best).


Anonymous said...

Woah, I feel bad about what happened in that comic! That's so sad...

Hyein Lee said...

Thanks! I haven't seen you in a while, dude! I hope you are doing well. xoxo

Hyein Lee said...

...I mean, I should've said, "I'm sorry to make you sad"... instead of saying 'thanks'. I wish they let me edit my comment. Damn.

Anonymous said...

I seem to have lost your LJ message -- but I'm glad to have found your page -- and glad my book was a comfort to you long ago.

John Crowley

Hyein Lee said...

Wow, Mr. Crowley, thank you very much for writing back! I am a huge fan, so I am very grateful for your comment. You are too AWESOME!