While it may be better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at
all, loving and getting an Eisner award nomination for telling the story of
it is pretty hard to beat.
Page in that case, as he’s nominated for the 2003 Eisner Award for
Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition on the strength of his graphic novel
“Stylish Vittles: I Met a Girl.”
“I was thrilled,” Page told CBR News on Sunday. “I jumped up from my
computer and literally skipped into the living room to tell my girlfriend.
When I submitted ‘I Met a Girl’ I felt like I had a solid chance,
especially after finding out who the judges were — I knew that the
majority of them were already very familiar and supportive of SV. But then
you have to be a realist and think, ‘of course, I’m not going to get
nominated,’ because you don’t want to pin your hopes on that. So it was
still a total surprise.”
The book’s premise is a fairly straightforward one:
“Well, the best way [to describe it] is the blurb on the back cover of
IMAG — about how falling in love for the first time can change your life.
Usually at conventions when people ask me I say that it’s about a girl that
I dated in college and how that relationship (and relationships in general)
affected my life and the paths that I went down — it directly led me back
to my interest in comics and to me making ‘Stylish Vittles.’ It’s a
critical examination of a part of my life presented as a story. And yes,
it’s probably 99 percent autobiographical in fact, 100 percent in spirit.
There are, of course, parts that are made up or enhanced for dramatic
effect. But all of the important points really happened.”
So far there are two “Stylish Vittles” in print, telling the first two
thirds of a three part story about the relationship between Tyler and Nan.
But once the third part is out next year, Page has more “Stylish
Vittles” stories to tell.
“Book 4 sort of compares Tyler and Nan’s relationship with that of
Tyler’s parents — and not just in the typical ‘I’m afraid of becoming like
my parents’ motif. It tells the story of what was probably the hardest
part of my life — and looks at that classic notion of history repeating
itself, so to speak. It will be a look at what could be described as the
‘darkest’ point in my life. Beyond that, I know there are more stories,
but I don’t yet have an idea of what will come first. I know one of them
will be about the REAL first time I fell in love — with my best friend in
high school. I think pretty much everyone, especially guys, know what
that’s like. Another painful part of life. I’m also interested in going
back to tell stories about childhood, growing up, family (I’m really
interested in history and my family has a pretty long and rich one that has
been well preserved, so it’s interesting to me to look at who and where I
am and then look at everything that’s come before me …), and high school.
‘Stylish Vittles’ is my ‘vehicle’ for looking at the world around me, so I
don’t realistically see a definite ‘last’ story.”
Given the quasi-autobiographical nature of the book, there is the danger
that some people from Page’s real life wouldn’t appreciate showing up
as a comic book character. So far, though, that hasn’t been a problem.
“From the people that I am still in touch with, the reaction and support
has been great. They’re just psyched at the idea of being a comic book
character, but even more so, they often tell me that it’s so great to see
‘such and such’ part of our experience together at college. One of my
friends commented on her ‘backyard being forever immortalized.’ If any of
them are discontent with the idea, I haven’t heard about it. Actually,
I’ve tried to limit the cast to only the people who are really important,
most of whom I’m still close friends with. Those that I am not, or who I
was only socially acquainted with, I’ve changed their names and so forth.
I only have one friend who is as into comics as I am and he was totally
thrilled — he walked into The Source (former Eisner Spirit of Retailing
winner in St. Paul, MN) before I could get him a copy, grabbed a book and
went up to the counter to proudly announce that he was featured in the
book. All of the guys at the store got a big kick out of that.”
Some previous winners of the Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition have
gone on to get that wider recognition in part from the major superhero
comics publishers, most notably Brian Michael Bendis, who in addition to
his still-thriving indie comics, is now one of Marvel Comics‘ golden
boys. That path doesn’t particularly appeal to Page.
“I’m interested in being as dominant/successful as I can be, but on my
own. I think that the path that Bendis has followed is great, along with
some of the other ‘indie’ guys that have gone onto success at Marvel, DC
and elsewhere. I’ve answered this question numerous times within the last
several months, and what I usually say is something along the lines of: If
another publisher came to me with an idea or an offer, I would certainly
listen to it. My acceptance of the offer would hinge on the money and what
other types of remuneration I would receive, as especially applies to my
rights as the creator. In the future, when I’ll theoretically have some
more time on my hands, my feelings on that subject may change, as I look
for something outside of SV to have fun with. Then again, I’ve got a
couple of non-SV projects on the back burner that are waiting to get done
when I have that extra time. Theoretically. There are many characters and
stories in existence that I have a great fondness for, but I have 26+ years
of things I’ve made up in my own head that need to get out. That’s why as
a kid I drew comics and wrote stories about my own characters instead of
drawing Spider-Man or Batman. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
As for who this year’s winner will be, Page isn’t sure.
“When I got the nomination notice, the only one I was familiar with was
‘Fade From Blue.’ I quickly educated myself about the others — and
honestly, I’ve thought about this numerous times, I get the feeling that no
matter whom I think will win (and I don’t consider myself the favorite) it
realistically could be anybody — all of the other candidates are very
strong. It’s good company to be amongst.”