Thursday, November 3, 2016

City of Weird contributor: Jonathan Hill

Jonathan Hill was one of the very few contributors I invited outright to give me a piece for City of Weird. This is, mind you, after I had done a lot of hinting (a lot) and a lot of hoping and, when the submissions period closed, discovered that he hadn't submitted anything.


Just kidding.

I wanted two specific things when I hinted (shamefully) at Jonathan Hill. First, I wanted a graphic story. Not graphic as in too much sex or violence, but as in graphic novel, you know, a comic story. Not comic as in humorous but as in... sigh, what do you call these things? But I wanted one. An anthology isn't Portland without one.

Second, I wanted a Jonathan Hill story. I've followed his career and have loved his stylized imagery and his quirky imagination for a long time.

Google him and you discover out that Jonathan Hill, also known as Baron Hill of Oareford, is a British Conservative politician and former European Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, and... um...

But the real Jonathan Hill is a cartoonist and illustrator who teaches at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. He graduated as valedictorian of the Savannah College of Art & Design in 2003 with a degree in Sequential Art, and I have no idea what that is, but I'm sure it's something amazing. Since then, he's been freelancing for all sorts of clients including Hollywood Entertainment, the Viet Nam Literature Project, the Willamette Week, Fantagraphics Books, Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics,, Roar Comics, and Sagacity.

In 2011 his first graphic novel Americus was published by First Second Books. The writing was done by M. K. Reed and the art by Jonathan. OK, get ready because I'm about to throw down a bunch of awards and nominations for this book. It was chosen as an ABC New Voices 2011 title, a Fall 2011 Junior Library Guild Premier Selection, and was winner of the NAIBA's Carla Cohen Free Speech award, becoming the first graphic novel to win the award. It was also nominated by the YALSA as a 2012 Best Graphic Novel for Teens, The first chapter of Americus was published in the Papercutter comics anthology and was nominated for an Ignatz Award.

Jonathan has illustrated for lots of great projects, but here's a favorite of mine: the sweet, tiny picture book My Brother the Dragon, published by Tugboat Press and featuring art by Jonathan and writing by Galen Longstreth.

I like to give a little excerpt from each author's story to give a tiny taste of the voice and imagination that I fell in love with, but that's hard to do with a very short comic tale. But suffice it to say that Jonathan Hill knows about spacemen, and in his beautifully-stylistic classic-with-a-twist  tale in City of Weird, when these guys come..

Portland may start out like this...

But it ends up a little more like this.

Jonathan will be showing off his work at the City of Weird Wordstock pop-up reading on Saturday, November 5, at one o'clock, in the Stevens Room.

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