It’s a fast moving but dense coming of age story that’s likely to have legs outside of the comics market. The semi-autobiographical book concerns a young fashionista cum comic nerd’s life changing experience as a retail slave pushing upscale women’s wear to wealthy Beverly Hills dowagers. But while it richly portrays a modern gay twenty-something trying to make it in the big city as he feels his way through the romantic trials of young adulthood; it’s also sure to have universal appeal for anyone who’s ever had to work a day job while trying to pursue a higher creative calling.
Plus the cartooning, although clearly informed by comics masters as diverse as Robert Kirkman and Michael Turner to Craig Thompson and Marjane Sartrapi, is uniquely his own. Grace, in fact, credits his time with Skybound for the story’s quick pacing. “My time as Editorial Director at Robert’s Skybound imprint was spectacular,” he says. “I learned so much from him in terms of pacing things, and when you have to reward the reader with reveals, or when you should let the story breathe… also each and every artist he works with is amazingly talented, and each one of those guys showed me a LOT in the two plus years I was involved. Ultimately the biggest thing I learned was: pace to the page turn!”
In addition to contributing the art to S. Steven Struble’s Lil Depressed Boy series, Grace also did the artwork for author and actress Amber Benson’s Among the Ghosts (Alladin, 2010). He says that his “favorite – and least favorite- thing about drawing for such talented writers is being forced out of my comfort zone. Both Struble and Amber have such lovely imaginations, and always asked me to draw things I wasn’t prepared for. As a result, I am a stronger storyteller.”
Although different in genre, like a lot of other current Image titles, such as Saga or Prophet, Not My Bag is the kind of comic where distinctive visuals and wording work seamlessly together to move the narrative along. Grace says he’s “obsessed with all kinds of comics,” which is something that definitely shows up with his portrayal of his soulless corporate harpy boss, Franky. “(She) was a fun character,” Grace says, “she was challenging because I always put her in masks, and it was rough to find a different mask that meant something to the reader AND represented the mood she was trying to posit in the book.”
Not My Bag will be available at comics shops everywhere and through Comixology this Wednesday, October 10, 2012. It is currently available for pre-order at Amazon.