Tomorrow marks the release of First Second’s Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists. To mark the release of the Chris Duffy-edited project, Robot 6 is interviewing five of the 50 cartoonists throughout this week. The first interview is with Eleanor Davis, the Athens, Georgia-based creator who contributes The Queen of Hearts nursery rhyme to the collection. Davis’ most recent book was The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook (Bloomsbury).
Tim O’Shea: Your two-page layout has a whole lot of story going on it, yet retains a great narrative flow at the same time. How much revision did you endure with the layout before you achieved the flow you sought?
Eleanor Davis: I wrote and drew the comic last January. It was kind of tricky — it was hard to make everything fit in those tiny panels.
O’Shea: What enticed you to tackle the Queen of Hearts in particular?
Davis: I was enticed by Chris Duffy telling me to. I felt lucky to get it tho, it’s a great rhyme and the perfect vehicle for my commie pinko propaganda.
O’Shea: How early on did you realize you wanted to go with red or variations of red with the coloring on your story?
Davis: I like working in black and white and often think heavy computer coloring is kind of cheesy looking. Red brought out the hearts and strawberries. Plus I love the look of the old Eloise books which use the same trick.
O’Shea: Did you have any favorite nursery rhyme illustrations growing up (or now, for that matter)?
Davis: Wallace Tripp is fantastic illustrator whose extensive use of narrative really makes him more of a cartoonist – his books Marguerite, Go Wash Your Feet and Granfa Grigg Had a Pig were some of my favorites growing up. I hope he’s rediscovered soon.
O’Shea: The list of 50 artists for this book is an understandably impressive lineup–are there a few in particular you look forward to reading (or have already enjoyed reading)?
Davis: A lot of the folks in the book are my contemporaries, some were even my classmates! So it’s going to be really exciting to see what everyone’s up to. I loved Aaron Renier’s The Unsinkable Walker Bean so I’m looking forward to his piece.
TOMORROW: J. Caleb Mozzocco talks to Richard Sala