Twitter Facebook Tumblr Pinterest Instagram

« older | Main Largehearted Boy Page | newer »

May 10, 2007

Book Notes - Nick Bertozzi ("The Salon")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that is in some way relevant to their recently published books.

With his graphic novel, The Salon, Nick Bertozzi has crafted an innovative murder mystery. Managing to be clever, funny, and suspenseful, The Salon is the standout graphic novel of the year.

Author Jonathan Ames says of the book:

"A wild mixture of art history and mystery, The Salon is a graphic-novel tour de force. Bertozzi's drawing style is both comedic and beautiful, and his evocation of early 20th century Paris is a delight. His depictions of these famous artists -- Picasso, Braque, Stein, Satie and Apollinaire, to name the principals, and there are others -- is a source of great pleasure, and the story he tells is strange, humorous, and thrilling. In short, this book is a work of art."

In his own words, here is Nick Bertozzi's Book Notes essay for his graphic novel, The Salon:

I wasn't influenced by songs while I was working on THE SALON, I was influenced by DJs at WFMU. The radio station that is the self-proclaimed audio home for "onanistic shut-ins", "An Extremely Enjoyable Radio Station For Young and Olds Alike That Will Shake Your Bottoms" and a station "Where You Can't Tell the Music from the Technical Difficulties." I could not make comics without them. It's no coincidence that the year I first discovered the station I also decided once-and-for-all to be a cartoonist, rent and ConEd bills be damned! The 'FMU DJS have challenged me, annoyed me, charmed me, pulled from me tears of joy and tears of shame, cut me up, and stuck my ears deep into this dimension's aural plane, but they have never, ever bored me. This is not a fashion-y college station, nor is it a tiresome public radio station with formatted "Blues in the Evening"-style blocks of programming--this is FREEFORM! Plus, they don't run commercials, not even the underwriting kind. It's insane, this station. So instead of songs, here's a handful of the DJs without whom I would be unable to draw my little illustrated whimsies:

DO OR D.I.Y.--Sound-collage and cut-up. Haven't you always wondered what John Cage and the BeeGees would sound like played over each other and sprinkled with liberal blasts of bodily-produced sound effects?

SEVEN SECOND DELAY--This is a comedy call-in show. A memorable episode was the one in which they called people and tried to keep them on the phone for as long as possible allotting themselves only seven words.

THIS IS THE MODERN WORLD with TROUBLE--Not much to say about the art of putting together a perfect set of music other than:

Erland Oye, "Sheltered Life/Fine Day" from DJ KICKS
Bertrand Bergalot, "Comme Potrei Scordare from THE SSSOUND OF MUSIC
Romaine, "George Best-The Belfast Boy" from WORLD CUP BEND IT
Reflection, "Flowers for the Monlight" from LOLLOP SAMPLER
Sun Ra, "Mystery" from SUN RA RESERCH
Freelance Hellraiser,"Smells like booty" (mash up) STRENGTH THROUGH FAILURE with FABIO--This is the show I turn off the most. It's like a game, How long can I keep listening without crying from pain? I love it.

KEN--Favors propaganda records and mash-ups. Going from Buck Owens to Hotel X makes sense in this world:

Buck Owens, "Brooklyn Bridge"
Little Axe, "Long Way To Go"
Elliot Sharpe's Terraplane, "High Yaller Party"
Control Machete, "Asi Son Mis Dias"
Jayuya, "La Dona"
War, "Cisco Kid"
Hotel X, "Iqbar"

THE BEST SHOW ON WFMU with TOM SCHARPLING--A comedy call-in show in which the host is often challenged to a chain-fight. I have often laughed out loud while listening and inking.

MUSIC TO SPAZZ BY with DAVE THE SPAZZ--I love Little Richard and Chuck Berry, but they get WAY too much play. What about "Frogman" Henry? Great for drawing to.

CHARLIE--This set list from a show called "All's well under the plasti-dome". Doesn't it make sense that this set list is what they would really be listening to in LOGAN'S RUN?:

Der Plan, "Gummitwist"
Lou Berrington & The African Kamp, "The Kwella Stroll"
Boogie Down Productions, "My Philosophy"
Pantychrist, "Suzanne"
The Flying Lizards, "Suzanne"
W.I.T., "It Kills"

MONICA--And here is the play list that brought a tear to my eye:

Saule, "ole"
His Name Is Alive, "Mine"
Vibracathedral Orchestra, "You're Hard To Get"
The Moles, "What's The New Mary Jane"
The Gasman, "Staid"
Jessica Fletcher, "Next Year"
Ann-Margret, "Bye Bye Blues"

SINNER'S CROSSROADS with KEVIN NUTT--An hour of Gospel music taped off of obscure southern radio stations.

INCORRECT MUSIC--First you laugh at the sour-notes and the bizzare song-titles ("Lesbian Seagull"), but then you get mad at yourself for not having the stones that these singers do.

JONBENET'S BOOK CLUB with BRONWYN C.--I found out about George Saunders' books from this show and that's just the beginning.


Cylinders! Gramophones! Helpful when I wanted to think about what Picasso and Braque would be listening to during the time in which THE SALON is set.

The above is a random sampling of the amazingness of WFMU, I could write about them forever. This is a group of people who remind me daily that If it's not hard to do Then it's not worth doing. I hope a little bit of them has rubbed off into my comics.

see also:

Nick Bertozzi and The Salon links:

the author's website
the author's blog
the book's website

New York Times feature of the author and book
excerpts at New York magazine
Washington Post Express feature of the author
promo video for the book
Publishers Weekly Comics Week interview with the author
Comics Alliance interview with the author
The Comics Reporter interview with the author
Forces of Good interview with the author
Silver Bullet Comics interview with the author

reviews of The Salon:

The Daily Cross Hatch
The Comics Journal

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)

Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)

Please take my blog reader survey!


submit to reddit