Zak Sally’s Readers Do Not Necessarily Agree with Him About the Tone of His Work, But They Do Send Letters

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10/14/2009 4:00 AM |

Zak Sally is a musician (formerly of the band Low, and more recently releasing a solo album, Fear Of Song), publisher (of La Mano books), and comic artist (the Eisner Award nominated Recidivist, and ongoing serial Sammy The Mouse, published by Fantagraphics/ Coconino). His most recent book is Like A Dog (Fantagraphics), a hardcover collection of his early ‘zine work and assorted short pieces. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and son.

For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
Well, i’m really happy with the “anonymous” quote on the back of Like A Dog: “Like A Dog reads like a hairy, 450 pound man in a speedo trying to give you ice cream at your sister’s wedding,” but the fact is, I wrote the damn thing.
Comics is generally (and sometimes maddeningly) a medium where you DON’T hear a lot/get a lot of feedback… mostly stuff just trickles out here and there. The word “claustrophobic” works pretty well in regards to Like A Dog, I think… I really WISH i heard more people describing Sammy The Mouse as “funny,” but i think most people find it creepy and depressing.

I think it’s funny, damn it.

What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers’ lives for the better?
Well, I did a ten-day “master cleanse” a couple months ago where all I “ate” for ten days was maple syrup, cayenne pepper and lemons. That was pretty fun (but not as much fun as i thought it’d be).

I just attended the Small Press Expo (in Bethesda, MD), and am still wading through all the awesome small press stuff I picked up at that thing; anyone who thinks that the small press or minicomics scene is dead obviously isn’t paying attention; the whole thing was deeply inspiring.

But as far as ONE THING: my old pal John Porcellino’s new book (collecting issues between 1996 and 2002 of his long running minicomic “King-Cat Comics and Stories”) Map Of My Heart (from Drawn & Quarterly) is just astounding; I mean, I make a couple appearances in this book (and my publishing company has put out a book by him), so I’m nowhere near objective about John or his work, but… this really is a collection of the best work he’s ever done, and I honestly believe that then years from now, people will look at John’s body of work as a singular and important piece of artâ�‚��€�not “comic” art, but ART, and Map Of My Heart is 300-some pages of cold hard proof of this fact.

Whose ghostwritten celebrity tell-all (or novel) would you sprint to the store to buy (along with a copy of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius so that the checkout clerk doesn’t look at you screwy)?
I honestly don’t have a decent answer for this.

Not like “I’m above it all”, I just… don’t really give a hoot these days.

Madonna’s looking awfully strange these days, though.

Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
It depends. I don’t think I’ve ever been brilliant (unfortunately).

When I was younger, not having a pot to piss in probably pushed me in some ways (not all of them good), art-wise; but once you’ve got a mortgage, wife, and kid, everything ceases to be… I won’t say “romantic”, but let’s just say that it’s a pretty simple thing to not give a fuck when you’ve just got yourself to worry about.

Being broke in recent years has been no fun whatsoever, and I am now trying to find ways to become perpetually rich and powerful.

What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
One where they make me rich and powerful.

No that’s a joke (but interested parties please contact me).

I’d say a real, human interaction on some level is ideal for me, in whatever form it takes; and as abstract as it may sound, receiving a handwritten letter has taken on a damn near magical quality for me. It’s such a rare thing in this day and age on so many levels, to sit down and concentrate, use your HAND to write a letter, then take the time to stick it in an envelope and put it in the mail. I really cherish the handwritten letters I’ve gotten over the years.

Have you ever written anything that you’d like to take back?
Generally, anything over six months old has PARTS you’d like to change or take back (it used to be somewhere around 30 seconds). But right now, I’d settle for the complete eradication anything I created between the ages of, say, 6 and 25.

Can we do that?