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Eli Bishop p1

READERSVOICE.COM aims to gather a few interesting reading tips. Eli Bishop is a San Francisco comics artist whose latest minicomic is Busybody. This is a collection of old and new stories, like Discovery, about someone who meets a woman and only half-hears her name. As the relationship progresses, he finds it harder to admit he doesn't know her name. Years pass and they start a family. Now he hopes their son will call her by her name. For a good selection of his comics see errorbar.net.

Eli Bishop provides a lot of good reading leads in this interview, and some of his comics do, too.
One of the many comics Mr Bishop has had included in anthologies was (from) The Scarlet Plague. This was a “dreamlike condensation” of Jack London’s lesser-known 1912 post-apocalyptic novel The Scarlet Plague.
And The Witness is about a sauropod “who falls off a cliff, dies and hangs around to look at things for billions of years”. Mr Bishop said some of the action was “more or less a Teilhard de Chardin deal”. This author was a paleontologist (a scientist who studies fossils). His biography says he was also a philosopher and Jesuit priest whose books included The Future of Man and Christianity and Evolution.
Mr Bishop has also analysed a lot of the language, gags and references in the novel Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban.

READERSVOICE.COM: You liked Riddley Walker and wrote a lot about it. What things grabbed you the most about the interesting narrative voice?

ELI BISHOP: First, it just sounds great— all that children’s-book writing gave Hoban a great ear for dialogue and description. One reviewer said it sounded like Huckleberry Finn and I think that’s not far off.
Second, like most books with a fantasy setting, there’s a lot of exposition about how this world works, but he managed to get it all across in a conversational style as if everyone is already familiar with it.

RV: Thomas M. Disch, Wallace Shawn and John Sladek were other favorite writers. Which of their books or plays would you recommend someone read first?

EB: Disch: On Wings of Song — an underappreciated science fiction classic about astral projection, Midwestern theocracy, and opera.
Shawn: Aunt Dan and Lemon — a play about how likable terrible people can be.
Sladek: I think Tik-Tok is the purest essence of his gift for extremely dark satire.

RV: Comics like your dream comics, Postdoc and Understanding the Ancients have a lot of humor in them. Do your favorite books tend to have a lot of humor in them?

EB: I have a pretty broad definition of humor, so anything that I like, I usually think it has humor in it even if someone else might not agree. It’s hard to be 100% serious when you’re talking about human behavior.

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– copyright Simon Sandall