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Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition: Tyler Page of 'Stylish Vittles'

While it may be better to have loved and lost than to never have loved atall, loving and getting an Eisner award nomination for telling the story ofit is pretty hard to beat.

Lucky TylerPage in that case, as he's nominated for the 2003 Eisner Award forTalent 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 mycomputer 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 themajority of them were already very familiar and supportive of SV. But thenyou have to be a realist and think, 'of course, I'm not going to getnominated,' because you don't want to pin your hopes on that. So it wasstill a total surprise."

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The book's premise is a fairly straightforward one:

"Well, the best way [to describe it] is the blurb on the back cover ofIMAG -- 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 thatI 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 backto my interest in comics and to me making 'Stylish Vittles.' It's acritical 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 dramaticeffect. But all of the important points really happened."

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So far there are two "Stylish Vittles" in print, telling the first twothirds of a three part story about the relationship between Tyler and Nan.But once the third part is out next year, Page has more "StylishVittles" stories to tell.

"Book 4 sort of compares Tyler and Nan's relationship with that ofTyler's parents -- and not just in the typical 'I'm afraid of becoming likemy parents' motif. It tells the story of what was probably the hardestpart of my life -- and looks at that classic notion of history repeatingitself, 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 themwill be about the REAL first time I fell in love -- with my best friend inhigh school. I think pretty much everyone, especially guys, know whatthat's like. Another painful part of life. I'm also interested in goingback to tell stories about childhood, growing up, family (I'm reallyinterested in history and my family has a pretty long and rich one that hasbeen well preserved, so it's interesting to me to look at who and where Iam 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 Idon't realistically see a definite 'last' story."

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Given the quasi-autobiographical nature of the book, there is the dangerthat some people from Page's real life wouldn't appreciate showing upas 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 supporthas been great. They're just psyched at the idea of being a comic bookcharacter, 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 myfriends commented on her 'backyard being forever immortalized.' If any ofthem 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 Iwas 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 totallythrilled -- he walked into The Source (former Eisner Spirit of Retailingwinner in St. Paul, MN) before I could get him a copy, grabbed a book andwent up to the counter to proudly announce that he was featured in thebook. All of the guys at the store got a big kick out of that."

Some previous winners of the Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition havegone on to get that wider recognition in part from the major superherocomics publishers, most notably Brian Michael Bendis, who in addition tohis still-thriving indie comics, is now one of Marvel Comics' goldenboys. That path doesn't particularly appeal to Page.

"I'm interested in being as dominant/successful as I can be, but on myown. I think that the path that Bendis has followed is great, along withsome of the other 'indie' guys that have gone onto success at Marvel, DCand elsewhere. I've answered this question numerous times within the lastseveral months, and what I usually say is something along the lines of: Ifanother publisher came to me with an idea or an offer, I would certainlylisten to it. My acceptance of the offer would hinge on the money and whatother types of remuneration I would receive, as especially applies to myrights as the creator. In the future, when I'll theoretically have somemore time on my hands, my feelings on that subject may change, as I lookfor something outside of SV to have fun with. Then again, I've got acouple of non-SV projects on the back burner that are waiting to get donewhen I have that extra time. Theoretically. There are many characters andstories in existence that I have a great fondness for, but I have 26+ yearsof things I've made up in my own head that need to get out. That's why asa kid I drew comics and wrote stories about my own characters instead ofdrawing 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 -- andhonestly, I've thought about this numerous times, I get the feeling that nomatter whom I think will win (and I don't consider myself the favorite) itrealistically could be anybody -- all of the other candidates are verystrong. It's good company to be amongst."

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