The second volume of Josh Simmons’s Jessica Farm was released recently from Fantagraphics, and now the artist takes the time to talk with Derek for another Comics Alternative interview. In the conversation, Josh shares his ideas behind Jessica Farm and the long, involved process of its creation. Beginning in January 2000, he began drawing one page a month with plans for publishing a collection of his efforts every eight years, and then doing all of this over a fifty-year span. What’s more, he plans to reissue the previous volumes of Jessica Farm each time he publishes a current volume. For example, the first installment of Jessica Farmwas published in 2008, but Fantagraphic re-released that book, and in a new edition, along with this year’s Jessica Farm, Vol. 2 so that the design of the two books matched. Josh explains that he wants to do this about every eight years so as to offer new editions that will reflect current design and publication practices. As a result, this long and evolving narrative is not just a curious and episodic fantasy tale, but also an exercise in creative process that underscores the materiality of his project.
But the conversation isn’t just limited to Josh’s current work. The guys spend a lot of time talking about last year’s Black River, his 2007 graphic novel House, his early Top Shelf series Happy, and especially his provocative collection The Furry Trap. In fact, Derek spends much of the interview asking Josh about the stories in the latter, most of which have an edge and intensity not found in the longer-form comics. This leads to a conversation on Josh’s different styles of storytelling, short-story versus long-form, and the kind of reactions he’s received on some of his more explicit work. Along the way, Derek educates Josh on Doctor Who, and Josh introduces Derek to a variety of foreign films. A smart and educational conversation all the way ’round!