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FOG! Chats With Howard Chaykin About The Return of ‘TIME²’

After thirty five years, writer/artist Howard Chaykin completes his long awaited conclusion to TIME², which is being released as an omnibus collecting the original volumes, The Epiphany and The Satisfaction of Black Mariah with an all new final chapter which concludes the story. 

Howard took some time to discuss the book, it’s influences and his recent media recommendations.

*  *  *  *  *

FOG!:  Mazel Tov on the upcoming release of the TIME². When the first volume was released, you had finished the initial run of your series, AMERICAN FLAGG! and had just completed your revamp of THE SHADOW at DC.  What was the genesis of TIME²?

HOWARD CHAYKIN:  I’d been thinking a lot about magic realist fiction, and for reasons I can’t begin to understand, I couldn’t shake the idea of conflating my love for Damon Runyon, Frank Loesser, Philip K. Dick and Fritz Leiber—and Bebop—into some coherent, or perhaps better described, occasionally coherent, and often obscure narrative.

In retrospect, this was completely ridiculous, and an exercise in hubris.  I had mistaken my passions for universal interests, forgetting the pedestrian nature of mainstream comic books, and the equally pedestrian tastes of mainstream comic book enthusiasts.

Even more so than FLAGG!, TIME² seemed to embrace many of your passions including fashion, Jazz music, graphic design, debauchery, and a Jewish protagonist with Maxim Glory, At the time, and even now, do you consider TIME² to be your passion project?

Yes to all the above.  And yes.  To be sure.  The core narrative elements of the books are derived from my childhood’s observations of Times Square, Broadway, and the bohemiana of Greenwich Village.

I vividly remember seeing TIME² for sale at a bookstore before I ever saw it in a comic store. Was this a fluke or was pushing it into mainstream retailers a specific attempt by First Comics, the publisher at the time?

I have no idea.

I know that at one point you were a big science fiction reader and now, your interests lay more in the crime fiction genre. What was surprising when revisiting the title was how much predictive science you made that came true. 

Do you currently read a lot of science and technology news, or is it just coincidental how much you got right from almost forty years ago?

I lost my interest in science fiction many years ago, to find it replaced by an enthusiasm for crime fiction.  And as for any predictive stuff, no, I never read anything in regard to science or technology news.  My observations were simply based on logical extrapolation.

If one were to play a Jazz album while reading the OMNIBUS, what three would you recommend?

JAZZ AT MASSEY HALL (The Quintet).  THE BIRTH OF THE COOL  (Miles Davis).  GUYS & DOLLS (The Original Cast Album).

You’re currently working on a graphic novel based on the FARGO novels by John Benteen. What other upcoming projects do you have planned?

Allow me to finish FARGO—I’m fucking old, for fuck’s sake, and could drop dead as I answer this question.

What are your current pop culture recommendations?

In comics, PALOMINO by Stephen Franck, and STRAY DOGS by Tony Fleecs.  I just finished an extraordinary first novel called PARTISAN, and I highly recommend the newest book from David Thomson, REMOTELY.

All the music I listen to is the work of long dead talent.

I loved the most recent season of FARGO, and I also really dug the both seasons of THE GILDED AGE, capitalism porn at its finest.  Other titles of note are OZARK, which is the show everyone thinks BREAKING BAD is, TRAITORS, THE CAPTURE, BAD SISTERS…the list goes on.

I loved AMERICAN FICTION and FAIR PLAY, the latter of which seems to be invisible.

Howard Chaykin’s TIME² Omnibus is available February 6th from Image Comics
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