New York: Inspiration City
On a complete whim I decided to attend the Brooklyn Book Festival. I’m considering this a whim because I’m moving to Brooklyn from Virginia and just happened to be here during it.
I actually received an email from Vertigo Comics a few days prior about writers and artists that would be speaking at this weekend’s event; as a graphic novel devotee I scurried my way through the crowded streets to catch at least a few panels.
The one I was adamant about attending was entitled NYC Inked; an all NYC themed panel. The speakers included Peter Kuper, James Romberger, Colleen Doran and Ron Wimberly. While each has contributed amazing creations to the literary tapestry of New York City culture Wimberly stood out to me.
I’m sure it is more of a generational understanding but his work is so steeped in what it is to be New York, or more specifically Brooklyn. Although he is a transplant (moved from D.C. in the 90s) he has completely embodied the spirit of this city. In his latest book The Prince of Cats, he puts his spin on the story of Tybalt from Romeo & Juliet. Transferring the tale to an 80s-esque world in Brooklyn, giving the character plenty to work with. “It’s like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, only not funny and in bastardized Elizabethan.”
I actually bought this book upon leaving the panel. The art and character design is brilliantly executed. The colors are perfectly vibrant and evoke both style and grit. Wimberly speaks on what inspired him through the process of writing, “Music is a huge part, I pull from many genres. I’d say manly hip-hop.” He was pressed by an audience member to be more specific and became a bit stumped. “I couldn’t say just one artist inspired me or that I only drew from one, I have some many.”
He was also asked how he developed the scenery and overall look of the saga. “I wasn’t living in Brooklyn in the 80s but I have plenty of friends that I was able to use as resources. And I was watching a lot of music videos.” As the other members on the panel, Wimberly takes in his surroundings to produce a landscape steeped in admiration and accuracy. It seemed to be a statement that was reiterated by everyone, how could you not be inspired by these places in this city?
The take away from this is that New York City itself is the ultimate canvas to create on; it’s ever-changing and asking for each of us to add to it. We all contribute to the identity; it’s a beautiful cycle of give and take. So take a moment today to look at your city and process how it moves you in the things you do. I think you will be surprised just how much influence it holds.
Visit Wimberly’s site for updates on his future projects: D-pi.com and for more on The Prince of Cats check out Vertigocomics.com/graphic-novels/prince-of-cats.
Photo Credit: newsrama.com