Cathy Malkasian Talks Percy Gloom
By Leroy Douresseaux
Jun 7, 2007 - 10:33
Cathy Malkasian worked for the animation production company Klasky-Csupo directing episodes of such animated TV series as "The Wild Thornberrys" and "Rugrats." In 2002, the feature film, The Wild Thornberrys Movie, which she co-directed, was released to theatres. In early 2003, Ms. Malkasian, her co-director, Jeff McGrath, and producers Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo received a British Academy Award nomination (the BAFTA) for The Wild Thornberrys Movie.
On Tuesday, June 12 2007, Ms. Malkasian's graphic novel, Percy Gloom (174-page two-color 8" x 10" hardcover $18.95), hits store shelves. According to publisher Fantagraphics Books, the story follows title character Percy Gloom, who leaves his mother's home for a dream job as a cautionary writer for the Safely-Now Corporation. He goes on to uncover "an unreal world of secret societies, benevolent families, and bureaucratic security."
Cathy Malkasian answered a few questions about Percy Gloom and her creative process for a Bin Q&A:
CBB: Would you mind describing Percy Gloom in terms of characters, plot, and setting?
MALKASIAN: Please excuse the brevity, but here goes:
"Navigating through a series of friendships and disasters, Percy Gloom learns to change his view of life." That's pretty much what it boils down to. There are details here and there, but other people have summarized them much more eloquently than I ever could.
CBB: How did this project evolve and does it mark a more active period in longer stories and graphic novels for you?
MALKASIAN: The story evolved out of a general disillusionment with world affairs! Out of frustration I decided to satirize our human appetites for power, adoration and immortality, and how these always lead to, well, bigger appetites.
It took about a year to do. The longer format allowed for more breathing space in terms of character and place. I would like to do more graphic novels. The format has been very enjoyable.
CBB: Did any earlier comics, either your own or someone else's, influence or inspire the creation of Percy Gloom?
MALKASIAN: Everything is an influence, but no, this work evolved out of an honest, emotional need to highlight the large and small-scale absurdities that make up our troubles. It really was from the gut.
CBB: When did you become interested in comics or comic books, and what titles did you read?
MALKASIAN: Mad Magazine and Peanuts were the first comics I read and enjoyed as a kid. I really didn't read comics much after that until I got into animation, when friends introduced me to all the alternative material. It was really exciting to see artists like Seth, Jim Woodring, Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman, Dan Clowes, R. Crumb, etc.
I'm leaving out a lot of names, but they know who they are!!
CBB: Did being an animator help you to create comics? Did you get encouragement from fellow animators, as some of them do create comics?
MALKASIAN: Well, I am not actually an animator. I do storyboards and pre-production directing for animation, so the skills are very different. In terms of creating comics, animation work provides a basis for structure of one's day. In animation you are constantly breaking down actions and story points into their constituent parts. This is a very healthy combination of analytical thinking and instinct, and it's also a great way to keep things from getting overwhelming. When you are tackling a large idea or story, you know in advance that you'll be working at it one bit at a time. This keeps you from getting discouraged, because you know that eventually things will add up.
A few of us co-workers did do comics and were definitely encouraged by each other's work.
CBB: After Percy Gloom, when can we expect to see more comics or animation from you - if there is anything you can speak about at this time?
I really don't know specifically what I'll be working on, but I would like to try the graphic novel format again.
I reviewed The Wild Thornberrys Movie, a thoroughly underrated film, which I recommend to fans of animated feature films.
Fantagraphics Announces Cathy Malkasian's New "Percy Gloom"
Gilbert Hernandez & Cathy Malkasian at BOOK SOUP 9/25
Cathy Malkasian Talks Percy Gloom
Cathy Malkasian: The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2003 Oscar Nominee)