Added on 12-Jun-2008
If you’re a music fan then chances are that Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical Almost Famous is sacred and hallowed territory.That film captures perfectly the nostalgia that music is often imbued with and it still stands as a perfect reminder of what it feels like to “truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.” Mike Dawson, whose autobiographical graphic novel Freddie & Me (Bloomsbury) details, among other things, his love for Queen and Freddie Mercury, clearly understands this sentiment.
Freddie & Me spans decades and recounts everything from Dawson’s childhood in England to his discovery of Queen to his move to Red Bank, New Jersey as a teenager. The resulting stories are equal parts hilarious, bittersweet and deeply moving, making Freddie & Me the kind of infectious book that, much like a great Queen song, you want to read over again and again.
How did you first get into comics?
I’ve been following comics for a long time. I sort of hint at it in the book that I started being a cartoonist at an early age, in high school drawing super heroes, etc. I got into alternative-type comics when I was in college, just reading them, and began sort of self-publishing them. There’s a whole self-publishing scene in North America. There are conventions and a lot of the same cartoonists attend them and know one another. I don’t have a problem with the larger conventions but I don’t really leave them inspired to write or create.
I was doing self-publishing from the late-90s on. I did mini-comics. Then I saw that graphic novels were the way that things were going. And it’s not like I calculatingly decided to do one but just sort of seeing where the movement was headed… It was a very big change for me. The penciling was much more long-form—I had only done things before that were like 20 pages or so long.
I started working on Freddie & Me in the summer of 2004, and I worked on it for a good two years or so. I completed maybe 200 pages of it before I actually submitted it. I had submitted work to publishers within the comic book world and some had sort of vague interest but nothing definite. To get to Bloomsbury, I did actually get a literary agent who was able to sell the book to a publishing house in England called Jonathan Cape who are publishing the book on June 6th in hardcover. They were really great. Then, after that, Bloomsbury showed interest and we signed a deal with them for the U.S. rights. They’re doing it in paperback.
At the time I actually was working at Scholastic in a completely unrelated field—I was working as a project manager for their Web division, which is what I still do during the day—and I made friends with some of the editors on the other side of the street. They were the people who pointed me in the direction of that particular literary agent. He looked at the stuff and liked it and felt that people would be interested in buying it. But I want to lower expectations, not raise them. I just hope somebody reads it somewhere. That’s all I want. [laughs]