The Acme Novelty Archive - An Unofficial Chris Ware Database

Frank Santoro Interview

Frank Santoro Interview

Discusses Santoro's relationship w/ Ware, who did the introduction for the new edition of Santoro's 'Storyville.' Excerpt:

Q: Are you saying it was largely improvised while you were doing it?

A: The story completely changed as soon as I started making it. It was going to be a story about these hobos and tramps and more of a crime story. As I was making it I was making changes in the script. My friend John, who I credit as the editor for the story, we went back and forth a lot. He was such a great sounding board to bounce these ideas off of. I trusted his instincts. It was fun to realize what kind of story I could actually tell instead of a regular crime story. Reading Roy Crane, reading Ben Katchor, reading Kyle Baker, I was 22 years old and I was just trying to absorb this stuff and spit it back out.

And Chris Ware. There was a comic-book sized version of Acme Novelty Library when it first came out.

Q: Yeah. I remember I was like "Hey, it’s that guy from Raw magazine."

A: Right! And it was cool. You thought “This is great” but it didn’t really prepare me for summer of ‘94 when the oversize one came out. When that came out it was just “That’s it.” It was this call to arms. You have to up the ante. You have to do something more. Everybody did. Everything I had been doing up to that point felt like a bare minimum effort. I turned around and put it into that. It was a call and response.

It was really exciting. Chris and I were pen pals before that. I sent him the Sirk zines and he liked them and we just went back and forth – little postcards here and there. Then we started talking on the phone a little bit. Chris wasn’t who he is today. He hasn’t changed but ..

Q: His stature is different?

A: His stature is different of course, but he’s the same person. But I was sending postcards to Ben Katchor. I was sending postcards to Kyle Baker. Chris just happened to be somebody who wrote back. That was just how it seemed back then with mail order and things like that.

Q: More accessible?

A: More accessible but less terse than with email [today]. I’m not trying to romanticize or be nostalgic but writing letters to Aaron Cometbus … I never met him until 1999, even though we were pen pals for ten years. His influence on me artistically was enormous. And then we became studio mates in 2000 when he moved to New York and we shared a studio for seven years.

It’s just like those kind of friendships back then [involved] a whole different understanding of each others work. There were so few people doing this. There seemed like there was enough, but for a lot of kids now, comics art history begins with Chester Brown in 1988 or so. They don’t remember when there was nothing. There was Love and Rockets and Lloyd Llewellen. There was no Eightball.

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