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John Porcellino p3

John Porcellino talks about some of the comics that have influenced him over the years, including everything from the brilliant art work of Marvel comics to more personal works like Julie Doucet's comic Dirty Plotte.

READERSVOICE.COM: Your website, comics and magazines like The Comics Journal list a lot of your reading favorites, like The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting. I was wondering what sort of fiction books you’ve really liked over the years.

JOHN PORCELLINO: I haven’t read fiction in a long, long time. I even have a hard time getting through short stories. Kerouac kind of ruined it for me. After him, fiction seemed so clunky and phony. Like I was always aware: “This is a book, and a writer wrote it.” So now I mostly read non-fiction when I read prose– biographies, and history. Fiction doesn’t bug me as much when it’s in comics form! I guess I’m a real Philistine. Prior to Kerouac, I read mostly Vonnegut and James Bond books, Brave New World, Animal Farm, that kind of stuff. When I was a kid, my Grandma had an amazing library of paperbacks in her basement, stuff from the 40s through the 70s, so I got my literary education early on reading those things.

RV: What kinds of comics or comics artists do you buy or read or re-read regularly?

JP: I read whatever I can get my hands on when it comes to comics. Having a good public library helps. My favorite cartoonists working today are people like Gabrielle Bell, Kevin Huizenga, Sammy Harkham, Ron Rege. I like idiosyncratic, but human stuff. I read as many of the great reprint series as I can too, Popeye and Gasoline Alley being particular favorites, Peanuts… It feels funny even to just name those few names, because I read whatever comes my way, and I like a lot of it. I love the old Kirby stuff, from the 50’s on. His monster comics are my favorite comics of all time! I never read superhero stuff as a kid, but just a few years ago I began devouring all the Marvel Masterpieces from the old days, Fantastic Four, Thor, Daredevil. They’re a lot of fun, and the artwork is brilliant.

RV: Do you find that your comics reading gets distilled to a few artists as you get older, or do you cast your net pretty wide?

JP: As mentioned above, I think I cast my net pretty wide. I love comics, I love cartoonists. I can find something to appreciate about a lot of different, varied stuff. At some point as an artist you find yourself open to the whole thing. That’s how I feel. It doesn’t mean I love everything I read, but like I said I can appreciate it.

RV: You started King-Cat when you were about 21 in 1989, but drew comics before then. What inspired you to start King-Cat?

JP: I had been drawing comics since I was a little kid, and eventually began making my own little books and zines. Mostly they were “anthology” type books, where I’d act as editor, culling work from a range of contributors (including my own work). In 1988 or so I found Julie Doucet’s Dirty Plotte zine, and that blew me away. It seems really simplistic to say, but what struck me by it, beside her great artwork, was that that zine was her. Everything in it had the touch of her hand. That inspired me to start a new comic zine, that would be all my own work, and whatever I wanted it to be at the time, and that was King-Cat.

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– copyright Simon Sandall.