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Brendan Burford creator of Syncopated comics anthology

Brendan Burford talks about putting Syncopated together, comics journalism, and 78 records…

READERSVOICE.COM: How did you find the contributors for the two anthologies, and the forthcoming one?

BRENDAN BURFORD: I just approached people who I either knew or admired, and they were, for the most part, amenable.

There were a few people who I would’ve liked to see contribute, but they had other obligations that prevented them.

RV: If someone was trying to put a book together like this, what should they consider?

BB: I don’t know if I can answer this question satisfactorily.

I think that person should just really do their homework on printers, distributors, designing, and being diplomatic in courting talent.

RV: Do you think reportage or journalism comics will one day find their way into mainstream papers or magazines?

BB: I think the sort of reportage comics found in SYNCOPATED have already entered the mainstream – you see the occasional comics form story in the New Yorker (i.e. the R. Crumb pieces), and cartoonists like Joe Sacco have gotten quite a bit of favorable attention.

RV: Can you draw up a piece of comics journalism as easily and quickly as writing a piece of journalism, or does it take longer to chew over something before you can draw it?

BB: I’m not very good at drawing. I really labor over the drawing, whereas the story idea, and written formation of a piece comes much easier to me.

RV: How old were you when you started drawing mini-comics, and how did you print and assemble them over the years?

BB: I’ve been making comics in some form or other since I was very young.

I think I was 18 when I first decided to take some mini comics to the comic book store and ask them to sell them for me.

RV: When did you start showing your work at comics conventions and what advice would you give to people thinking of doing this?

BB: I’ve been doing conventions for at least 5 years.

I would definitely encourage anyone who thinks they might have something they’d like to show to sign up for some conventions.

It’s fun to get feedback from people attending these shows.

RV: Which comics conventions have you shown your work at?

BB: I’ve done the MoCCA Art Fest and the Small Press Expo (SPX) every year for the past few years. I’ve also showed at NY ComicCon, and several other, smaller shows.

RV: How did you become interested in 78s and old jazz? What is it about these old records you like the most?

BB: My interest in 78 rpm records and old music was just a gradual progression toward older music (or is that a regression?).

I was always interested in jazz music, and over time I would discover certain musicians’ influences, and then their influences’ influences, etc.

All of this discovery continued to introduce me to all sorts of old music like blues, ragtime and ethnic music. I just can’t help it – I love it all.

RV: Where do you go looking for them and are there a lot of people you know who collect them?

BB: I find records everywhere. Whenever I’m traveling I’m on the look out.

I go to record conventions, and I have developed relationships with private dealers.

And, of course, there’s Ebay.

RV: When you were at Staten Island for the Glenn Mott story, you were taking photos for an illustrator.

Is it unusual for writers and artists to collaborate on a report?

BB: It’s not a common thing to see a collaboration in SYNCOPATED.

However, I wouldn’t consider Mott’s story a collaboration, necessarily.

The story will be written in prose.

The illustrations will be spots, accompanying his story.

RV: What sort of jobs have you had while you did your comics?

BB: For the past seven years I’ve climbed the editorial ranks at King Features Syndicate. Right now, my official title for King Features is Associate Editor.

RV: Do you have a particular interest in the history of life in cities? Are you interested in doing more New York stories like this, and how will you get ideas?
BB: I’ve always gravitated toward the historical significance of things.

I love New York, and I’m endlessly fascinated with the city, and constantly learning more about it.

Obviously there’s plenty of material there.

For the next issue of SYNCOPATED, I’m writing a story about the South Street Seaport and the Fulton Fish Market.

I’m also working on a story about the history of the name Gotham.