THE LINE KING
Paul Hornschemeier writes psychologically adroit comics that are more concerned with superegos than superheroes. His next graphic novel, The Three Paradoxes, to be published in June by Fantagraphics Books, poses questions like: How do parents influence our lives? Can people change? Employing multiple narrative threads yet maintaining a clear story through varying color schemes and drawing styles, Hornschemeier's work demonstrates that comics can address complex ideas while also telling an emotional, entertaining tale. If other comics are easy chairs, his work offers the pleasure, and the pain, of reclining on a psychiatrist's couch.
A mostly self-taught artist, Hornschemeier, 27, says that when he was growing up in his hometown of Georgetown, Ohio, his access to comics was limited to what he could find at the county fair and in dentists' offices. As "the kid in school who could draw," he had ambitions of creating superhero comics until, he says, "my stories were getting much less superhero-y and much more about a guy sitting in his bedroom wondering what he's going to do for the day." He had never read comics that explored personal issues, so he gave up on the idea. Then, as he was completing a double major in philosophy and cognitive psychology at Ohio State, a girlfriend gave him a copy of Daniel Clowes' graphic novel Ghost World. It was a revelation. "It presented comics," he says, "as a vehicle for emotion and honesty."
After graduation, Hornschemeier began self- publishing a series of black- and-white experimental comics (recently compiled as The Collected Sequential). He soon began integrating color into his increasingly sophisticated works, and early last year he released his first graphic novel, Mother, Come Home, the story of a boy struggling to cope with his mother's death and his father's grief. The book, which features a bold visual design and a narrative that is by turns cerebral and heartfelt, set the tone for The Three Paradoxes. The artist says his main goal is "basically, just ask a lot of questions." There's no question about his talent. --By Andrew D. Arnold
Comic Star Marjane Satrapi
Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (2003), a loosely autobiographical story of a girl growing up during the Iranian revolution, pushed its author into the front ranks of comic-book artists. Her follow-up, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return (2004), solidified her position. Born in Iran, she lives in Paris, where she is busy on a number of fronts, including adapting Persepolis into an animated movie. In April, she will release a provocative nonfiction comic book, Embroideries, that explores the sex lives of Iranian women. Her career is flourishing, but she didn't have an easy path to the top. In the following graphic essay, which Satrapi composed for TIME, the artist portrays some of the naysaying that cartoonists endure.
THE GUERRILLA CARTOONIST
FINDING HIGH COMEDY IN THE LOWER DEPTHS