Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.
It makes you feel good to know that there's other people afflicted like you.
When I was a kid, back in the '40s, I was a voracious comic book reader. And at that time, there was a lot of patriotism in the comics. They were called things like 'All-American Comics' or 'Star-Spangled Comics' or things like that. I decided to do a logo that was a parody of those comics, with 'American' as the first word.
It dawned on me that comics were not an intrinsically limited medium. There was a tremendous amount of things you could do in comics that you couldn't do in other art forms - but no one was doing it. I figured if I'd make a try at it, I'd at least be a footnote in history.
I write scripts in storyboard fashion using stick figures, and thought balloons and word balloons and captions. Then I'll write descriptions of what scenes should look like and turn it over to the artist.
I was influenced by autobiographical writers like Henry Miller, and I had actually done some autobiographical prose. But I just thought that comics were like virgin territory. There was so much to be done. It excited me. I couldn't draw very well. I could write scripts and storyboard style using stick figures and balloons and captions.
I'm from the beatnik generation, where everybody wanted to be a poet or writer or something. And at that time, I was a jazz critic, and I was always thinking, theorizing about what makes great art or what's important in art.
The film's success so far involves winning a couple of prizes at Cannes and Sundance, and getting some very nice reviews in newspapers and magazines. That hasn't had a big impact on my life yet.
Israel's creation was politically amazing and caused by a number of unusual events. And I understand. For centuries, Jews endured horrible suffering, and like other people, deserve the right to self-determination, but the way Israel is going now frightens me. Jews make awkward colonial overlords.
A respectable-sized audience hasn't really been able to follow developments in jazz since the free jazz movement in the '60s. Some of them can't even get with John Coltrane. Audiences are diminishing more and more rapidly. Some of the top young musicians with something new to say can't get record companies to put out their stuff.
People writing about me have said that I've influenced a lot of people, and there are some artists who have credited me with influencing them.
I decided I was going to tell these stories. I went around and met Crumb. He was the cartoonist. I started realizing comics weren't just kid stuff.
I met Robert Crumb in 1962; he lived in Cleveland for a while. I took a look at his stuff. Crumb was doing stuff beyond what other writers and artists were doing. It was a step beyond Mad.
I can't write in a whole lot of different styles, trying to please the highbrows one time and the lowbrows the next. I pretty much have a basic style I employ.
I continue to be disappointed that people don't try and diversify the kind of work they are doing in comics.
Things improved a little bit in the '80s; there was kind of a revival of alternative comics, but then they went downhill in the '90s.
I was 16 years old, and I was just flailing around, looking for an interest. I heard, you know, these jazz records. They were modern records, at the time in the '50s, and I realized that I didn't fully get what was going on. But I liked a lot of what I heard.
I have to be a freelance writer for the rest of my life, unless I get some kind of real lucky break. But other than that, I'll always have to work. I always worry about whether my stuff is going to get over. Will they like this, will they like that?
I think you can find all the elements that you can find in great literature in mundane experiences.
I'm kind of concerned about 'Ego & Hubris' because I'm thinking that people will read it and maybe even be entertained by it, but at the end of it, you know, they'll wonder, 'Why did this guy write this? What was the point of it?'