GMB Chomichuk is a writer and illustrator, when not teaching art at St. James Collegiate and parenting his two boys. His work has appeared in film, TV, and books, comics and graphic novels. His slogan is: "Join the fight. Make comics!"
|Mike Sanders photo|
Chomichuk took time away from researching Golden Age superheroes to answer questions about genre, making art and ego.
FP: Tell me about the pleasures of speculative fiction. What can you do in spec-fic that you can't do in regular fiction?
GMB Chomichuk: Well, I can write a time-travel noir story despite genre conventions and never look back. I can ask questions that are strange and give answers that are stranger still. I can do what I want. It's there in the title of the genre: I can speculate without limits.
FP: Infinitum is described as "time travel noir." How does it conform to conventions of film noir, i.e. Hollywood crime dramas of the '40s and '50s, and where does it modernize things a bit?
GMBC: For Infinitum, I had to make a choice. A choice about noir. The conventions of film noir were fabulous for comics: non-linear, stark imagery (and) convoluted plots that hinge on the bizarre. I had to make a choice, though. In most film noir, the woman is always the victim or the plot device. Women have almost no agency in film noir. That part I threw away. My hero and victim change positions a few times in the story. I changed the trope of the gritty narrator, made it into more of a Socratic dialogue. I left moments in the story that require you (to) flip back (to time travel within the book itself) to clarify. I didn't try to modernize anything, I just tried to make something that matched my current view of the world through the metaphor of comics.
FP: In your books, sometimes you're the writer, sometimes you're the artist, and sometimes you're both. Do you ever get your words confused with your images?
GMBC: Sometimes. But when that happens, I go with it. If an image carries me past the words, I try to leave them out. Usually I'm at work on multiple things, but I try to take on projects that are different in tone and scope so that working on one will give new perspective on another.
FP: You're a high school art, drama and English teacher when not making comics. Tell me how your two vocations are different and how they're the same.
GMBC: The jobs serve very different parts of myself. Lots of people think my role as a teacher is some sort of stopgap or 'have to' job. I could do full-time writing and illustrations, but then part of me would be missing. Teaching isn't about ego; you have to check ego and take on everyone else's needs. Creating stories is predicated on ego, the notion that you have something to say that others should listen to. I am better balanced because of those two daily vocations. No matter what the future holds for me, I hope there are classrooms.
FP: Your mother was dying as you were writing Infinitum. The book is many things: a doomed romance, a mystery, but also a wistful but loving meditation on memory. Tell me about your mom's influence on your thinking, on your work ethic, on your writing.
GMBC: My mother, Claudia, was the first person in my life to push the idea of publishing my fiction. She was a voracious reader and set that as an example. I wrote all the time and she would always ask quietly, with the leverage of a mother's tone, "When are you going to write a novel?" She always showed pride in my graphic-novel work but she'd ask about that novel. I've written several, but none that is ready. She was a teacher and a glass artist, but not at the same time. Standing in her studio now, surrounded by so many unfinished, fragile, beautiful things, I am determined to leave nothing out, nothing for later. To fill the hours of my life with more creation than consumption.
FP: What are you reading right now?
GMBC: Hundreds of Golden Age comics and all of H.P. Lovecraft as research, Howl's Moving Castle and The Peripheral for enjoyment.
FP: What are you writing right now?
GMBC: Not much. I just sent in a comics pitch. A project for the Make-A-Wish foundation, two kids' books, and a fighting monster comic, all created with Justin Currie. A film script and a cartoon pilot, plus a few other things. I just had the most wonderful creative meeting that may combine my teaching drive and my narrative drive into one project intended for students. At this exact moment, I'm doing the finishing touches on the art for Renegade Arts Entertainment's Underworld, written by Lovern Kindzierski (a surrealist monster-soaked mythological retelling of The Odyssey through the lens of 1980s Winnipeg) and writing dialogue for ChiGraphic's Midnight City (a nightmare fuel horror graphic novel set in the Golden Age of superheroes). And of course, a novel. It sounds like a lot, I know. But it's just one word at a time.