Meet Nick Abadzis. He’s a guy who has basically been a cartoonist all of his life, in one form or another, or maintaining that connection one way or another. Making comics, worthwhile stuff, is never a simple cakewalk. Success in comics, on the professional level, involves persistence, passion and a bit of luck.
Nick got his name on the map, at least in the United States, with the publication of his graphic novel, Laika (First Second). It is the story of the first Earthling (dog) to be sent into outer space. Laika was launched into Earth Orbit aboard Sputnik II on November 3, 1957. The story of this Soviet dog cosmonaut is poignant to say the least and certainly just waiting to be adapted into a thoughtful and inventive graphic novel. Laika went on to in win a number of awards, including the coveted comics industry Eisner Award in 2008 for Best Publication for Teens.
Nick chats about the early days, circa 1980s-90s, going back to his first major work in comics, Hugo Tate. It’s a story that grows darker and more interesting as it unfolds. You won’t easily find it in the States without a bit of digging but that may change soon enough. Nick thinks it might be due for a revisit and reprint. Remembrance of things past led us to the glory days of British comics and comics journalism as exemplified by Escape magazine, founded by Paul Gravett and Peter Stanbury.
Our conversation also covered a bit of shop talk about the world of graphic recording. It’s not as simple and easy as just drawing pictures of a business meeting. But, if you are a particular kind of cartoonist, one who really knows how to pare down to the essentials and, most important, knows how to listen, you may have a future as a graphic recorder. That said, if you have the stomach for that, then maybe you have the stamina to pursue one graphic novel after another. I always find it a little amusing, perhaps even troubling, that some people think they might someday take up the goal of creating a graphic novel. Honestly, your odds are maybe better that you’ll follow through on writing a prose novel rather than a proper full length graphic novel. But live and learn I always say. Anyway, we have a bit of fun chatting about the curious world of visual storytelling.
Last, but not least, Nick provides us with a sneak preview of his new and forthcoming graphic novel project. It is about race and it has been years in the making. What began as an idea to explore the life of a mixed race couple evolved into a give-and-take discussion of how to expand the narrative. Initially, the book was inspired by the relationship between Nick and his partner, Angela. Nick is of Greek heritage; Angela is of African heritage. The editorial process took over. There were numerous discussions about combining the subject of race with immigration and that led to a number of drafts. Ultimately, the book came back to the original concept. This particular project evolved over the course of 14 years, about as long as Nick has been a graphic recorder. In fact, during the editorial discussions, he would graphic record them. Just goes to show you how important persistence and passion are in this business!
Find Nick Abadzis here.