Saturday, September 26, 2009

Checking in with ex-Milwaukeean Ben Percy on the "Refresh, Refresh" Graphic Novel

Former Milwaukeean (he taught at Marquette) has published two short story collections. The second, Refresh, Refresh, won some awards, and the title story was featured in a recent volume of Best American Short Stories. It's the one edited by Ann Patchett, and if you used to subscribe to the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop email newsletter, you heard me go on about this in the past.

It's a wonderful collection, and we still sell it pretty well. In fact, we may be the only place you find his first collection, from Carnegie Mellon University Press.The Language of Elk. Last time I looked, we still had a copy.

So I'm reviewing the catalogs for fall and I come across a graphic novel version in the First Second catalog. I wasn't able to see the whole thing, but from what I looked at, it totally captured the book's feel. Then I learn that it's more connected to the book's screenplay than the story.

Screenplay? It's time to contact Ben. Fortunately I still have his email address.

Ben's Reply: RR has become a cottage industry. Next up: "Refresh, Refresh" the lunchbox.

The graphic novel is pretty badass. Especially the end, when she intoduces these nightmarish watercolors. PW said it was one of the most anticipated YA titles of the fall and First Second Books is saying that it's the best thing they've published, so I'm crossing my fingers, hoping it will make a big splash.

I enjoyed working with the artist so much, we're collaborating again on an illustrated book of dark fables.

The screenplay is solid. I helped edit it and the writer/director has received a lot of support from Sundance. It's in preproduction now and we're trying to raise the final chunk of money needed to begin filming. (Editor's note. If you'd like to give them a big chunk of money, I can connect you.)

Anyway. I'm certainly grateful that a short story - a form so regularly ignored - has made such an impact.

Hey, so are we! I'm still waiting to say "I knew you when" to somebody.

RR the graphic novel is out now, more or less. The lunchbox is still in preproduction.

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