NICK FRANCIS POTTER is a writer and artist whose ongoing “Irregular Limbs” multimedia project has also appeared in NightBlock , Ninth Letter and The Collagist. He studies and teaches at the University of Missouri, and he can be found online at Big Gorgeous Jazz Machine. Nick would like to acknowledge and thank his wife and collaborator, Erin, for coloring this version of “Irregular Limbs”.
ON PROSE AND COMICS
I’ve been drawing since I was a kid, but I let myself lapse sometime around college, when I got really interested in writing and prose of various types. It wasn’t until I met my wife, who was a fine arts major, that I started getting back into visual arts. I’d stopped drawing because I couldn’t draw what I wanted to draw, but I’ve since found a lot of artists who work within the boundaries of their skills in ways I think are really appealing. It made me want to go back and try that too.
I never felt a stigma against comics as a form, but I wasn’t sure that I could do it. I’d never taken any classes and had few friends who were interested in comics. They’re a lot of work, and more intense work in a lot of ways than prose writing, at least for me. It takes more labor for me to make a comic, and it took a lot of effort to push myself in that direction. But I’m happy about it.
Prose and comics each have unique qualities. If I’m stuck and not writing in a mode that’s satisfying for me, I can try drawing and still feel like I’m productive, and vice versa. It’s a weird way of productive procrastination, to have dual media that work against each other, both practically and on the page.
ON POINT AND COUNTERPOINT
“Irregular Limbs” is a long term project that contains prose and comics focused on the same ‘topic,’ for lack of a better word. It’s like Groundhog’s Day if it was written and directed by David Lynch, with characters and stories that repeat and mold in new ways. For example, there’s a prose short story that’s a counterpoint to the comic featured in Entropy, and it goes in a different direction and highlights different characters to a different outcome. I’m interested in playing the medias off each other, using the limb or appendage as a metaphor. Hopefully I’ll end up having a whole book, but also loose appendages that show up in a gallery piece or a zine, not bound within the book but connected in a way.
I have quite a few different narratives going, in terms of variations on these characters and rough arcing outlines. In planning, I’ve guessed at mediums for specific chapters, but that’s changed as I’ve gone forward. Some chapters have changed from prose to comics, and the prose shifts stylistically as well. That’s a great part of the project, having the two forms, but also styles within each form.
As a project, “Irregular Limbs” is fairly loose in a lot of ways. For me it’s not a story collection, but it’s not quite a novel. It’s exciting for me, but in terms of elucidating it for others, I’m not sure if I’m the best at it. I just try to work as hard as possible to complete things, to finish. I think there’s plenty of writers and comics makers who are far more talented than I am. I don’t see the project as something that’s easily marketed.
ON WRITING AND READING
I try to read as extensively as I can. Reading seems far more important an activity to me than writing. Of course the two are also integrally related. I don’t think I’d ever have arrived at some of my own weird stories without being introduced to some of the bizarre work I’ve found through friends or magazines. And when I do find work I respect in a magazine or journal, that’s where I try to submit my own work.
As a project, “Irregular Limbs” has a variety of influences. Antoine Volodine, for one. Particularly Minor Angels and his book We Monks and Soldiers, written as Lutz Bassmann. I’ve also been really into Tin Can Forest—an amazing Canadian duo who make these really bizarre surrealist comics that I’m kind of obsessed with. If what I’m doing ends up anywhere close to the nexus between Volodine and Tin Can Forest, I’d be ecstatic.
Nick Francis Potter’s book New Animals, a collection of prose, comics, and hybrid texts, is forthcoming this fall from Subito Press.
Want to be considered for future installments of The New Comics? Send your work to Comics Curator Keith McCleary via the Entropy submissions page.