Under the Surface with Patrick Allaby

In the outside world, readers are looking forward to the English edition of Simon & Louise, and snapping up copies of Meat and Bone, Aurora Borealice, Wage Slaves, and Chicken Rising. But in Publishing Publicity Land, we’re already looking forward to fall, and we couldn’t more more excited about our incredible lineup (official announcement post coming soon).

One of our first fall releases will be Martin Peters by Patrick Allaby, the twisty story of a teen with type 1 diabetes who neglects his health in an effort to fit in. In this instalment of Under the Surface, we talk with Patrick about his process, diabetes, cathartic art, and more.

How long have you been working on Martin Peters? What inspired you to begin the story?

I started working on Martin Peters in January of 2016, about a month after I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I wanted to make a comic that was set in the neighbourhood I grew up in and touched on all the major issues of our time, and was also sort of a rom-com. But as I worked on it, I got sort of bored with that idea and the story started pulling me in a new direction.

You’ve obviously incorporated your own experience with type 1 diabetes into the graphic novel in a fairly significant way. Was that challenging, or cathartic, or some mix of the two?

Martin wasn’t originally a diabetic, but one day—after maybe nine months of working on this book—I decided to make him one. Doing this allowed me to reflect on how my life may have been different if I’d grown up with diabetes, instead of being diagnosed with it at 22.

In the months after getting diabetes, I really struggled with the question of if my life would have been better being diagnosed with diabetes as a child, and I never would have known a non-diabetic life, or if things were better off as they where. Working on Martin Peters gave me an opportunity to explore a trajectory my life might have taken, had I grown up with diabetes. So, in that way the process was definitely cathartic to go through.

For you, what’s the best time of day to create? Why?

I work in the evenings and at night. This has always just worked for me. Even when I’m working full time, I’ll usually nap when I get home and then work from 8 until 3. I guess it’s just easiest for me to concentrate when everyone else is asleep.

With its theme of “fake news” Martin Peters feels particularly timely right now/ What are you hoping folks take away from the story?

Martin Peters didn’t start out being about fake news, or misinformation, and the discussion of the truth in the book largely comes from my interest in authors like Philip Roth or Vladimir Nabokov. I also really liked the idea of including an author character in the work, which was something I saw in The Canterbury Tales around the time I started Martin Peters, and also in the comics of Kim Deitch. I really was excited by the way Deitch and Chaucer blur the boundaries between fiction and reality by including themselves in their work. Many of my other favourite authors like Sheila Heti, Gabrielle Bell, and Julie Doucet do this too.

In terms of fake news though, I am really interested in the way in which, as storytellers, people tend to obscure or leave out details that would compromise their role as the hero of their story. I hope people who read Martin Peters question the source of the story, and the stances of the various authors within it and take that with them.

What’s your favourite part of the cartooning process?

I like the moment in making comics when I stop feeling like my idea was a colossal mistake and the story just starts flowing out of me.

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