Only in the hands of Bob Fingerman could a memoir mutate into a post-apocalyptic comedy screed against the worst excesses of popular culture…a romantic one, no less.
His new graphic novel From the Ashes, published by IDW, is available at your favorite comic book store now.
First, if you wouldn’t mind, would you introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m Bob Fingerman, a battle-scarred veteran of the comic book biz who’s also writing traditional novels. The first, Bottomfeeder, was a bleakly funny look at a working class vampire from Queens whose life takes on new and dangerous dimensions when he meets and befriends the first other vampire he’s ever met in his time as one. My next novel is Pariah, a take on the zombie pandemic theme, with heavy emphasis on discord among the holed-up Upper East Sider survivors.
What’s From the Ashes all about?
That’s my new graphic novel. Well, graphic memoir. Well, graphic “speculative memoir,” to coin a phrase. It’s a satirical riff on the post-apocalypse genre, but also squarely aimed at the trend in memoirs, memoirs, memoirs. It seems to me there are a lot of memoirs out there, both prose and comics—excuse me, I mean graphic. But precious few have the decency to include mutants and the undead. My book remedies that deficiency and adds cybernetic right-wing pundits, and lots of social satire. It’s basically about my wife and I dealing with survival in the ruins of New York City. It’s a love story. I’m not being ironic. It is.
Why a post-apocalyptic setting? Are you a fan of the genre?
I have major wood for that scenario. I have since I was a kid. I’ve always loved post-apocalyptic entertainment. Movies, comics, novels, TV shows. The works. It’s a very fertile, liberating landscape, even if it is a nuked-out wasteland. Richard Corben and Jan Strnad’s Mutant World graphic novel is one of my touchstones. Even the daffily brilliant movie Zardoz, which I reference in the book, molded my love for post-apocalypse stuff.
This is a fairly political book, and from what I’ve seen, there seems to be a real thread of frustration with popular culture that runs through it. What were some of the things pushed you toward writing the book?
Like I said: the memoir trend was a tipping point. Plus eight years of the Bushies, the meteoric ascendance of FOX “News,” consuming more current events than I could digest healthily. That kind of thing. But I have to stress: this book is not polemical. It’s a satire and its prime function is to entertain and amuse. I think it’s a lot of fun. I think fans of Dr. Strangelove would enjoy this book. I don’t think FOX News zombies would, though. It kind of rags on one of their heroes. A lot.
I know that one of the characters bears a strong resemblance to a certain television pundit. Any indication whether he or his people have seen the book?
No. I’m tempted to send him one. He did inspire me, so it only seems fair. Who knows? He might find it funny. I kind of doubt it, but you never know. It’s pretty broad swipes I took (though some of his more hostile lines are pretty much verbatim quotes from his shows).
Are you more or less optimistic, politically speaking, these days?
Less, I think. I see nothing but fractious squabbling out there in Washingtonland, the world’s least enjoyable theme park. Don’t get me started. The Dems, Jesus. At least some of them are shooting for noble outcomes. And the Republicans are just mean-spirited pricks whose sole function at this point is to obstruct anything the Dems try to get done. Bi-partisanship is as likely to happen (in any meaningful way) as the Taliban throwing dance parties.
Who do you think should buy From the Ashes?
People who enjoy the works of Nicholas Sparks, Thomas Kinkade (renowned “Painter of Light”) and Stephenie Meyer. Not fans of hers; her specifically. Okay, maybe not. But people that like somewhat misanthropic satire with a tinge of old MAD magazine to it. I’ve gotta say, though: for a book in which most of the human race perishes, it’s strangely upbeat and even optimistic.
What’s next for you?
Like I said, the next book out is the novel, Pariah, from Tor (August 2010). Not sure what else. I’ve got some pitches out. We’ll see what sticks.