Catching Up With Stethoscope: Jason Katzenstein

Come check out Jason Katzenstein ’13’s magnum opus, Fuck You: A Graphic Novella, tonight at 5 on the third floor of Albritton.

Tell us about your final product.  How has it changed since you first envisioned it?

I can show you exactly what my initial vision was thanks to the magic of gmail archives:

 I would like to make a graphic novel consisting of several segments: autobiographical stories, essays, single panel narratives, and experimental work. These segments will form a coherent whole; some will recur and others will be self-contained.

…said I in a nervous e-mail proposal on October 8, 2011. What I realized, as I began to work, was that the work wasn’t actually a bunch of disparate parts. The stories began informing each other. The book I ended up making follows a family; we jump around in time and space, but ultimately all of the elements fit together. Nothing ended up being self-contained, which I think is for the best.

 What was it like working one-on-one with an editor? In what ways was your editor the most helpful?

Piers is not just an extremely accomplished and attentive editor of prose, he’s also a badass artist. Graphic narrative is a unique medium and it’s been really amazing to work with somebody who speaks the language.

When you look at comics you can’t just edit the sentence or the image—you need to consider their relationship. Piers was great at this.

What was the most frustrating part of putting together the book?

You’d be surprised at which panels took nine hours to draw.

What most surprised you about the process of creating your book?

 Layout and typography were both very new for me. I’d never used InDesign before. Before we laid out our own books we went down to the print studio and looked at different bindings and papers and fonts. It was pretty incredible. 

Are you satisfied with your final product?  What are you planning to do with the copies that you receive?

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at my illustrations without seeing the badly drawn line, or my prose without going straight to the clunky sentence. That said, I can let myself acknowledge that this book was months and months of my time, passion and devotion. There are some pages I’d stand behind. I draw a pretty good old man face, I’d say.

Mostly I’m just happy that I set this goal and actually attained it (and by “I” I mean with the help of everybody involved in Stethoscope). It’s the first graphic novel I’ve ever made. Every relative of mine is getting a copy. They’re available at our reading on Friday. Please, please come pick one up! 

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