Hello and welcome back to the Readers’ Guide for the next chapter of ULYSSES “SEEN”. “Next chapter?” you say. “So how come this says ‘Episode IV’? What happened to the other chapters in between?”
Yes, well, it’s a long story. ULYSSES is a very big book filled with many intertwining stories, and it takes a rather long time to draw. But drawing it in comics, and releasing it as an educational/discussion based format on the iPad, means we’ve realized some new ways to look at the thing. Some of these insights are about the specific language of comics and some are about helping first time readers get through a very challenging book. Some are about promoting the kind of reader discussions the book has engendered over the years. And, frankly, some are just easier paths for me as a fledging cartoonist to take through illuminating one of the most daunting books in the history of the English language.
So we’ve decided to bring Mr Bloom into the picture early. We’ve decided to show the comparisons and contrasts between his world and Stephen’s right now in the front of our adaptation. The naming and numbering of this “episode” (Joyce notoriously hated thinking about the book in “chapters”) reflect the schema he set out for them in 1922. No departure has been made to see this bit of the story as an exclusion of previous elements of the novel. Those “episodes” are still coming. It’s still number four and you haven’t missed out on numbers two and three. We just thought it best, and maybe clearest in keeping with my own vision of the novel, that you get to see this part next.
I believe the world Joyce portrays, the Dublin and so much more of Summer 1904, gets a bit easier through the eyes and insights of Leopold Bloom. And I believe the novel is illuminated better, and discussed that much more easily, by seeing Bloom and Stephen’s mornings together. For this reason, our next installment will collect and assemble episodes two and five into one massive chapter.
Because comics can do that. And because digital books, with their ability to jump easily from one related to topic to the next, gives us a fertile landscape for innovation that Joyce would want us to take every opportunity from.
So now I get to turn over these pages to my new friend and partner Janine Utell so she can unpack all the images and help guide you through Bloom’s part of the morning. Janine’s unique viewpoint on “this is a novel about a marriage” has been fueling me and engaging me throughout the drawing of this chapter. Imagined, plotted and sketched long before she came along, I could not imagine what it would’ve looked like without her insights. Thanks, Janine, and welcome aboard.
Mike Barsanti will still be on-hand here and again to direct us into those deeper Joycean waters as he did in “Telemachus”. Mike just finished work on Martin Rowson’s re-imaging of Eliot’s THE WASTE LAND for our “behind the seen” app treatment, and I’m sure he welcomes Janine’s voice, diligence and unique approach on this chapter as much as I do.
Some people might note that Josh Levitas is now getting more of the credit he so richly deserves. While I began and imagined this project before we met, Josh is an invaluable part of ULYSSES “SEEN” and we’re all damn excited to increase his role in this and subsequent chapters. Josh and I talk every day, like teenagers trying to make the coolest rock opera EVER. I might get to sing and play a good guitar, but Josh plays the meanest, most precise bass I could hope for and he’s always ready for when we change the beat.
That’s about it. You know why we’re doing “episode four” next, who’s involved and why I need them so. Let’s get on with what is unquestionably one of my favorite parts of the book and I’ll look forward to talking more with you in the discussion thread.
Because I think this chapter of ULYSSES “SEEN” is going to give us plenty to talk about -R