Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition: Nick Bertozzi of 'The Masochists'

Sat, July 20th, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Beau Yarbrough, Columnist

[The Masochists]It's something of a clich that creators working on serious Art with a

capital A aren't always recognized for their labors until, well, after

they're dead. Fortunately for Nick Bertozzi, he didn't have to wait that

long: He is a nominee for the 2002

Eisner Award for Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition.

"I was surprised and honored," Bertozzi told CBR News on Wednesday. "I wasn't hoping

to get nominated, figuring that I have many, many years to go before I get

to my best work."

Bertozzi is recognized for his work on "The Masochists," a graphic novel

that makes even the most morose works from DC Comics' Vertigo imprint look

like a Dick and Jane story.

"'The Masochists' is a graphic album of three beautiful tragedies. The

stories are connected very loosely in that the central theme of each is to

look at a few different ways that people torture themselves. It's

masochism, not in the sexual sense, but in a more general interpretation;

drinking, self-mutilation, trying to join the 'in crowd,' and working only

for a paycheck."

As you might guess, "The Masochists" is dark. Very dark. Such a nominee

is somewhat out of character for the Eisner judges, who traditionally

haven't recognized other such bleak materials into this category on a

regular basis.

"It is pretty dark subject matter, but I'd been reading a lot of the

Loustal/Paringaux books ('New York/Miami', 'Love Shots' ...) and they

really focus on the bleak side of life. But their stories are so simple and

beautiful and I wanted to achieve a feeling similar to their work. While

the stories in 'Masochists' are fiction, they're grown from kernels of

truth and maybe the judges responded to that. Most tragedy is very false.

Soap operas exist solely to keep you watching until the next commercial and

I wanted to try and make something more real than that."

[Rubber Necker]Winning this Eisner might mean opening the door a bit further with the

bigger comic book publishers for Bertozzi.

"I've been doing illustration in mainstream magazines and newspapers (NY

Times, Nickelodeon Mag) for a while, but as far as the comics mainstream,

I've only written a couple of superhero stories (a Kamandi story in

'Bizarro Stories' and a Juggernaut story for 'X-Men Unlimited') and I have

a bunch of projects that are currently in at various editors."

Bertozzi also has an ongoing series from Alternative

Comics, "Rubber Necker." Issue two comes out this October.

Bertozzi has a vested interest in who wins the award beyond the obvious,

although it might not end well.

"Dean Haspiel and I used to be roommates and we've pledged to kill each

other if one of us wins. I know Dylan Horrocks and I'd like to see him win

since he's one of my favorite cartoonists, and is working on a very mature

level. I've never met the other nominees but I wish them luck!"

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