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Creators review corner: Brian Chippendale on Gene Wolfe


This wide-ranging interview with noise cartoonist Brian Chippendale covers his old classics, MAGGOTS and NINJA, and his new classic, IF ‘n’ OFF, and also
the Fort Thunder alumnus’ reading tastes:

Moreso than Stephen King, who I haven’t read that much of, Gene Wolfe is one of my favorite authors. He wrote this one series called The Book of the New Sun or something — a four-book series he wrote in the ’80s about a torturer who gets banished from his guild because he showed someone mercy, so he walks the earth and gains more power as he goes. Anyway, he’s written a shitload of stuff, and his newer books I don’t love — his newest one is called The Sorcerer’s House — but he just always introduces all this shit and it doesn’t ever quite do anything. There’s one series of three books he wrote with this character who can’t remember anything, so every chapter is a letter to himself, and you sometimes get the idea that Gene Wolfe can’t remember what’s in his books. [Laughs] Like, they kind of don’t correspond, you think it’s going to do this and it does that, and there’s literally no payoff. It’s almost like…if you read the thing at the end that tells you the background, it’s the most interesting stuff. There’s little bits of this really rich world, but there’ll be this weird mundane story in it. I think that was a big influence: suggesting something grand but telling something mundane. On one level, I could have gotten a little more grand with the actual story. I think that was part of my learning curve. But I like the idea that there’s all this stuff out there but you’re getting one little corner of it.

  1. The four Wolfe books mentioned here are, “Soldier In the Mist,” “Soldier of Arete,” “Soldier of Sidon.” The first two are collected as “Latro In the Mist.”

    Think “Memento” in Roman & Spartan times and you get the idea. For those interested, book one begins as a journal, which our protagonist keeps, in order to record his daily events, daily events that are forgotten the next day.

    I love Gene Wolfe’s dense but sometimes impenetrable writing.

    I’m a big fan of his two-volume set, “The Knight: Book One of The Wizard Knight” and “The Knight: Book Two of The Wizard Knight.”

    Wolfe is like the literary equivalent of Stanley Kubrick. He knows what he’s doing; he knows what he means, but you have to come to HIS page to figure it out, not visa versa.


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