Thursday, March 08, 2007

[JFP] Everything Is Illustrated

by Matt Saldaña
Image courtesy Danny Gregory
March 7, 2007

Whether momentary or century-long, tragedy has inspired artists to create their greatest works, and others to simply create. Breakup inspired Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours,” Ryan Adams’ “Heartbreaker” and countless other heartbroken albums. A grim history of slavery and oppression in the Mississippi Delta manifested itself into the blues. World Wars I and II led to the major modernist schools of art in Europe.

Perhaps not as earth shattering, after his wife suffered a crippling accident in New York City, Danny Gregory transformed himself from a “busy ad guy” into a graphic novelist. The accident that inspired “Everyday Matters” (Hyperion Paperback, $14.95), Gregory’s debut graphic memoir, happens in a flash on page three: Gregory’s wife stumbles onto a train track in Manhattan and is run over by three subway cars. She is paralyzed from the waist down, just 10 months after giving birth to their first son.

“What was the point of life? Was love worth it if the #9 train could come along and take it all away?” Gregory writes.

He devotes the rest of his memoir, a wonderfully semi-coherent sketchbook of drawings and stories, to his discovery of this raison d’être: illustrating everything. The spice rack, the New York City skyline, his son’s mini-cowboy boots, his dog pooping in the park, a dead yellow jacket, the clock tower where his wife Patti worked on one of her last photo shoots as a stylist before the accident. As he explains at the book’s beginning, Gregory had never drawn before his wife’s paralysis. His sketches are sloppy and exuberant, the product of one having just found his voice. This new craft becomes the lens through which he views his now altered life.

[View the entire article at the Jackson Free Press.]