Comics artist and illustrator Peter Kuper has been chronicling life in New York City for over 30 years. His new book, “Drawn to New York,” captures this. Today marks its U.S. debut exclusively as an e-book, published by Bemis Balkind.
“Drawn to New York” depicts a climb to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge; homelessness in Times Square; roller skaters in Central Park; the impact of 9/11; Wall St.; street musicians and an array of moments unique to the Big Apple. Through comics, illustrations and sketchbook drawings, Kuper delivers everything from the low life to the high energy that has long made New York the most exciting city in the world.
I recently asked him about his motivation for and execution of “Drawn.”
What is different about this book from your many others? The impact of spending two years living in Oaxaca, Mexico got me using my sketchbook drawings as a way of seeing a place.For the three years since I returned, I have been sketching more than ever in New York. Mexico injected more color and caused me to seeing the city anew, but the book is really a collage of all of my experiences over the years living here.
The comics can tell a story, the sketchbook captures moments and is influenced by the smells and the sounds as I draw and there is also illustrations and paintings that are yet another component. Also, the art is back-lit, one of the pluses to an e-book!
There is a special noir quality about this. Are we to imply a hopelessness about your character? I am always aiming for the light, but seem to find the dark corners more interesting and compelling.Drawing keeps me from feeling hopeless. The comics and illustration I did after 9/11 were a life raft– creation in the face of destruction. I’m also glad I captured that history on paper as it fades. The whole book is a document of many things I experienced in New York over 34 years that have changed and in some cases come back around to repeat.
Your approach involves many media. Why not a traditional comic? I want to tell a lot of different stories about my time in New York and it seems appropriate to change styles to describe the city since it is a pastiche of so many different influences. I also get bored working in a single form. New York is all about change which is one of the reasons I love living here. It’s like perpetually traveling and my work reflects that.
This is exclusively an e-book. Why this form and format? It has something to do with the economy after the crash of 2008 and the impact that had on publishers. To do the 200 page four-color print book is more difficult these days in the US. Though I am old school and don’t ever intend to give up on print. (The book has come out in a Spanish language hardcover edition and is also coming out in France next fall.) I am also very interested in exploring new media as they arrive. Though I will always miss the tactile aspect of a book, I have to admit seeing the art on an iPad, it never looked better.