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Powell's Q&A

Mark Siegel

Describe your new book/project/work.
I have different projects on the go. Some are books of my own, one is an imprint called First Second.

For books, my third one as an illustrator comes out this fall and is called To Dance, with the subtitle A Ballerina's Story (Simon & Schuster/Atheneum). It was written by my wife Siena, and tells — in a comic book — of how she danced at the School of American Ballet when George Balanchine was still alive. It's a slice of ballet history and the tale of a girl growing up in Manhattan. It's one of a few graphic novels that are truly aimed at girls.

Then, when I wear my editorial hat, I run First Second, which publishes great graphic novels by all my favorite authors and artists from around the world.

  1. Long Night Moon
    $11.95 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

    Long Night Moon

    Cynthia Rylant and Mark Siegel

  2. Seadogs: An Epic Ocean Operetta

Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
An interesting experience with one of my readers: I post my doodles sometimes on the First Second blog, which is called Doodles and Dailies.

I've had one reader ask me if my little shadow character was black and the little skeleton character was white. I was stumped. Another interesting experience was after Seadogs came out. I met a six year old boy who gave me his own story with some little seadog drawings of his own and said, "I'm an illustrator, FOR REAL!"

Name the best Simpsons episode of all time, and explain why it's the best.
By far the best Simpsons episode of all time is the one where Bart sells his soul to Milhouse. It's nearly perfect. And Bart's reuniting scene on the little rowboat will live on forever. In my mind, at least.

Aside from graphic novelists, name some artists from whom you draw inspiration and talk a little about their work.
Besides graphic novel creators, I'm very inspired by some classic and contemporary illustrators. Some favorites: N. C. Wyeth, Loren Long, Carter Goodrich. Each of them has a very theatrical quality, and uses illustration to embody ideas and feelings, not just to make nice pictures. They have power; it's quite magical. Then, there are some painters. My favorite ones are 17th-century Chinese artist/calligraphers/mystics called Shi Tao and Bada Shanren. Both are dazzling, humorous, melancholy, and have taught me more about composition than all the art classes in the world ever will. And more, about the inner-life quality of a brushstroke, or the idea that an image can transport you to a certain state.

If you could have written (drawn) a book someone else wrote (or drew), what would it be? Why?
If I could have written or drawn someone else's book it might have been a children's book by Karla Kuskin and Marc Simont, called The Philharmonic Gets Dressed. No matter that it's for young readers, this one has got it all: wit, feeling, laughs, ponders; it's subtle and startling and sexy and uplifting and books like that come once in a blue moon.

What was the most recent lie you told?
The most recent lie I told was when I said "good morning," because it wasn't.

What's the first thing you do in the morning?
The first thing I do in the morning is draw.

What's the last thing you do at night?
The last thing I do at night is be awake. spacer

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