By Seth Kushner
The latest and fifth installment of SCHMUCK, “A Hairy Situation” is, as always, an awkward and personal story based upon events from my life a decade ago. It was one of the first stories I wrote and the most difficult one to get an artist to draw. The subject matter is sensitive and potentially offensive, and several artists turned me down, which prompted a rewrite where I allowed for leaving more to the viewer’s imagination, which turned out to be a good thing, but the story was still challenging.
One day last spring at Hang Dai Studios (the now-defunct studio I shared with Dean Haspiel, Nick Bertozzi, Gregory Benton, Krista Dragomir, Amy Finkle and Chris Miskiewicz and others) a young artist named Pierce Hargan came by to visit Nick. Pierce, a recent SVA cartooning grad (and student of Tom Hart and David Mazzucccelli), was showing Nick his recent work. I peeked over their shoulders, (well, not Nick’s shoulder, he’s 8 ft. tall!) and I was immediately taken with Pierce’s distinct, comix-as-fine-art style. Check out his site piercehargan.prosite.com to see what I saw that day.
Dean, knowing I needed an artist for “A Hairy Situation” prodded me to ask Pierce, which I did and he politely asked me to send him the script. I knew Pierce’s style would be perfect for this particular tale, and that he’d bring a sort of beauty to a not very beautiful story. Happily, he agreed to do it.
Months went by and we’d kept in touch. Pierce would occasionally send me a question about character design or a particular location I’d mentioned in the script. Finally, in June I received a pencil sketch of his design for Adam Kessler (my avatar) which he described as a cross between me and Elvis Costello. I loved it. It was completely different and original. Then, I didn’t see any art from Pierce until last week when he sent me three finished pages and I just about fell to the floor upon seeing them. He brought a sensitivity to the story, and a sense of real melancholy comes through his inks and washes. The characters move and exist with a subtly and beauty. His work elevates my story.
The other thing to mention about this episode is it’s a Harvey Pekar homage. Frankly, all of my Schmuck work is an homage to Pekar and his work, but this one blatantly so, and I’m glad I found a way to work him in to one of my tales, as an acknowledgement that all autobio comix are derived from good ol’ Harvey.
Look for SCHMUCK 5: A Hairy Situation next Monday, August 20th at TRIP CITY, but meanwhile catch up with the previous episodes of SCHMUCK.
Pierce Hargan was born in Los Angeles, CA and is currently living in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn, NY. He received a BFA at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in 2012 and is currently working on his first personal story, Alexandria. In the past he has collaborated with other artists on films, children’s books, and illustrations, and is interested in the potential of multi-media collaborations. He believes that comics have the potential to allow oneself to express themselves at the purest level. He has yet to achieve this, but he is trying.