Gurewitch talks "The Perry Bible Fellowship"

Tue, November 6th, 2007 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Justin Jordan, Guest Contributor

"The Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories" on sale now
"The Perry Bible Fellowship" is not a church, although it has been known to inspire a certain cultish zeal amongst its fans. The "Perry Bible Fellowship" is in fact a strange and nearly always surreal newspaper strip and Webcomic by Nicholas Gurewitch. Somewhat reminiscent of "The Far Side" in terms of its fierce weirdness, "Perry Bible Fellowship" is composed of vignettes highlighting the strangeness of life, religion and politics in a manner sometimes macabre, sometimes with a childlike glee, and illustrated in a variety of art styles.

Dark Horse Comics has issued the first collection of "Perry Bible Fellowship" in all its inspired deviancy with "The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories," a 96-page, full-color hardcover edition on sale now. CBR News caught up Nicholas Gurewitch to discuss the auspicious volume and learn more about the unusual, award-winning strip.

Gurewitch began "The Perry Bible Fellowship" while he was at Syracuse University, studying film. Indeed, the influence of several legendary filmmakers mixed with a dash of offbeat comics forms the core of "Perry Bible Fellowship." "Frank Frazetta, Stanley Kubrick, and Rob Schrab. I'd probably throw in Terry Gilliam and Sam Keith in there too," Nicholas Gurewitch told CBR News. "I was way too much into all these guys when I did the most drawing I've ever done in my life - around eighth to eleventh grade. I would guess that my ambition to make films has always been fuel for the comic. I'm constantly dreaming up things that I'm never able to film, and a lot of the concepts and themes end up in the comic because they have no place else to go"

"Perry Bible Fellowship" itself didn't come about from any kind of master plan, but rather an artistic impulse from deep down. Or possibly from a head cold. "I think [the strip] had about the same cause for existence as a sneeze; I had something tickling the inside of me, and it had to come out," Gurewitch said.

First appearing in "The Daily Orange," the university newspaper, "PBF" found its way into several newspapers, then the Web, and now to the bookstore. In that time the strip picked up two Ignatz Awards for Best webcomic and built a devoted following. "I think people have taken to the strip because deep down people want to experience stories that help them not feel so alone."

"Perry Bible Fellowship" is often bizarre, juxtaposing childlike drawings with mature situations and absurdist humor, but it's always funny, something that Gurewitch works hard at -- kind of. "Making sure that the author's state of mind -his enjoyment of something- is completely apparent and captured in a moment," said Gurewitch. "But sometimes I just need a really good bagel or something."

In addition to running on the Website on a schedule of whenever-Gurewitch-gets-them-done, "PBF" also appears in a number of newspapers, which was no accident. "I pursued the first four or so newspapers," the author said. "Then it just started snowballing. Or domino-ing. I'm not sure which is the better metaphor for people telling people about something they like."

Despite this development with the collection, Gurewitch isn't anticipating the creation of any long-form works, although he doesn't rule out the possibility. "Those aren't among my plans, but I rarely make plans," he said, adding that if he does have the vaguest of plans, it's to return to his first love, film."I think I love moving pictures even more than still ones."

"Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto" is available at bookstores and comic shops now, and you can check out strip can be read at http://pbfcomics.com/.

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