Summer vacation is officially over, but there's still plenty of time to book a trip to "Emitown."
In November, Image Comics is launching "Emitown," a 400-page two-color graphic novel that assembles cartoonist Emi Lenox's autobiographical webcomic in one massive collection. In "Emitown," the Portland, Oregon-based comic book author and illustrator routinely documents her daily adventures through a mixture of straightforward narratives and surrealist, metaphor-heavy vignettes, all of which are designed to invite readers to look at the world through Lenox's unique point of view.
"Basically, 'Emitown' is about my life and all of the oddball things that happen [in it]," Lenox told CBR News about the upcoming collection. "It's about the adventure of becoming a cartoonist and about how love is scary. It's about all the weird things you can think about during your day. It's all these things told with metaphors, bubble head characters, and detailed images with sticky note song lyric word balloons."
According to Lenox, "Emitown" was launched for a variety of reasons. "First, there was a time in my life that had gotten a little tough and I had a lot of pent up emotions that I needed to vent," she explained. "Second, I really wanted to get back into drawing. I was away from it for several years and I had forgotten how happy it would make me feel. Drawing everyday was an excellent exercise to get back into my groove. Third, I have a terrible memory and since my high school days I have scribbled little drawings of moments I never wanted to forget. So in a way, it served as my diary and my photo album."
Because it functions as a diary of sorts, "Emitown" is an intrinsically personal endeavor for Lenox, and she acknowledged that it's occasionally daunting to share so much about herself with the world. "I don't generally feel too shy about most things, but I will admit anything in regards to love or daring is a little scary to put up on multiple levels," she said. "One, that people can truly see some personal emotions and thoughts from me that I don't really share except to my closest friends, and second, the fear the person I am talking about could be reading these intimate details."
When Lenox arrives at one of these potentially frightening moments, she turns towards metaphors and abstract drawings as a means to convey her emotions. "The things that are really personal that I need to express generally are drawn in more abstract ways; I use a lot of metaphors and song lyrics to unload those emotions," said Lenox. "[Metaphors] can be interpreted in so many ways that I feel safe and am able to put down those specific thoughts on paper. I know what they mean and maybe they might mean different things to different people, and that's great."
What started off as a personal diary comic is now on the cusp of reaching an even wider audience thanks to Lenox's partnership with Image Comics. "I met Image publisher Eric Stephenson at the 2010 Emerald City Comic Con and gave him a sample mini comic I had complied of my favorite strips," the cartoonist explained of how "Emitown" first fell into Image's lap, leading to the upcoming publication of her graphic novel.
Now that the collection is on the cusp of release, Lenox admitted that, "everything having to do with the book and the people I've met in the comic world seems very surreal, especially considering that 2009 Emi had no idea that any of this was even possible!"
The "Emitown" graphic novel contains 365 pages worth of material from Lenox's online publication, as well as an avalanche of bonus features. "The additional material is going to include an introduction by Jamie S. Rich, a guest strip by Brandon Graham, some nice chapter dividers and song lists for each month, a forward by myself explaining why the book started, and an afterword as a reflection of the year," she revealed. "I think it's going to be one nice book! I think the transition from web to paper will be a smooth one!"
With the printed release of "Emitown" just a few short weeks away, Lenox assures fans that her ambitions as a comic book creator don't end with her autobiographical work. "I have several plans, all of which include fiction comics. I do plan to continue my diary comic as much as I can, but I'm looking forward to getting some stories that I've been working on for years on paper," Lennox said, adding that she's interested in the possibility of pursuing mainstream comics work at some point as well. "I do have interest in working on a popular franchise. Of course, Batgirl is high on that list. It's not something I want my career to be based on, but I would love to have an opportunity to be able to draw some of the characters I used to read from the comics that I would steal from my brother when I was a teen."
In the meantime, comic book enthusiasts have the opportunity to step inside of Lenox's frequently adorable, occasionally bizarre and always inspired mindset thanks to the release of "Emitown." "It's different than your average diary comic," Lenox assessed of her work. "It's got army cats, superheroes, song lyrics, humor and some serious life stuff. There may be a lot of things that a lot of people will be able to relate to."
"Emitown" hits comic book stores on October 27, 2010, courtesy of Image Comics. You can get an early look at the comic by visiting Lenox's official website.