Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Noah Van Sciver
#43: Noah Van Sciver
If you read Westword, you're familiar with Noah Van Sciver -- since 2008, when he started inking the 4 Questions feature in Backbeat, the hard-working cartoonist has been making observations about modern society and its many characters in these pages and online at westword.com. But Van Sciver has a professional life beyond the fourth estate -- pumping out comic creations, spreads, sketches and graphic novels like a bat out of comic-book hell, including The Hypo, his acclaimed 2012 Fantagraphics imprint about the darker side of Abraham Lincoln. We asked the rising star what keeps him going in this difficult field; learn more about the artist from his 100CC questionnaire.
Westword:If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why? Noah Van Sciver: Oscar Wilde. I wouldn't mind illustrating A Picture of Dorian Gray. I love that book.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
I'm fascinated by really old newspaper cartoonists. Recently I've been reading all of the Gasoline Alley comics starting from back in 1918. Frank King, the strip's artist, worked on the comic in the Chicago Tribune office building with a bunch of other cartoonists. They would wear ties to work back then. The image of a cartoonist showing up to work dressed nicely just to get down to drawing that week's comics seems funny now. That career is almost extinct now! It fascinates me. Going into an office to draw a comic strip seems unnecessary. It's such an isolated art. It requires you to be alone and be in your head. That's tough. Most people can't do it.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Meaningless collage art and geometric shapes. For a while, it seemed like every other jerk was just buying up old copies of Life magazine and cutting them up to make collages out of them or finding a fashion photo and then placing a geometric shape over the picture. It seemed pretty meaningless and simple to me. At this point it's a hack thing to do. And boy, is it everywhere.
What's your day job?
I work at Kilgore Books once a week and spend the rest of my time doing illustration work and comics.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Buy a house as a home base and then travel!
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Tax cuts for all professional artists living in Denver! This city is getting too expensive for artists, and that's a frustrating trend. Artists make the culture and make a city interesting and make it an attractive place to live. Take care of us.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Jason Heller, of course. He's a genius. (Editor's note: And he's the author of this week's Westword cover story, which will be posted here tomorrow.) What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I have two graphic novels coming from Fantagraphics books in 2015: a drama titled Saint Cole and one about a struggling writer called Fante Bukowski. On top of that, I manage to keep myself too busy with too many projects, including a biography of Johnny Appleseed that I'm pouring my heart into and my ongoing serial comic Rufus Baxter.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2014 and beyond?
Hopefully, some of the cartoonists that take part in Denver's Drink and Draw meetings. There's so much talent in that bunch!
Meet Noah Van Sciver and other local comic artists at the Cowtown Comics Festival, hosted by Kilgore Books from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, November 23, at Morey Middle School. Find his comics and books at Kilgore, and keep up with the latest from Noah Van Sciver on Tumblr.
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