Today’s feature on the Sunday Tribune is with the wonderful Geri E Gallas
who is the founder / owner of Open Book Chocolates and also a writer / illustrator of graphic novels talking about her new, upcoming project ‘The Plague and Doctor Caim’.
For those who don’t you, can you tell people a little bit about yourself and what lead you into graphic novels?
For as long as I can remember, I have been telling stories through words and images.
At an early age, I got into comics through Edward Gorey, Tintin, and manga. I wrote and drew my first full-length graphic novel in high school. I am a graduate of New York University: Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where I created my own major: a cross-cultural study of storytelling within film, literature, graphic novels, etc. In writing and illustrating graphic novels, I adapt this interdisciplinary approach with in-depth research and imagination.
I am best know for “The Poet and the Flea,” a graphic novel trilogy about the poet-painter William Blake.
Can you tell us the back ground to your current project “The Plague and Doctor Caim” which is described as “A darkly humorous graphic novel about a doctor grappling against the Black Death.?
I don’t recall the first time I ever saw the plague doctor and his iconic costume, but I was immediately enthralled. As is my habit, this lead me down a rabbit hole of research.
I’ve seen plague doctors in a number of other comics, usually plague doctors with supernatural powers. But I’ve never really seen a comic that delves into the nitty-gritty reality of the plague doctor in a historical context. That idea really lead me to creating “The Plague and Doctor Caim.”
The dark humor originates from the absurdity of some of the historically factual treatments used by plague doctors in the 17th century, like swallowing ground-up emeralds or wearing garlic soaked robes.
I know you have created other projects prior to this project, can you explain to us how you creative direction varied in this project and how it compares to this project?
Most all of my graphic novel projects are deeply rooted in history of some kind. My previous work, “The Poet and the Flea” Volume 1, explores and reimagines the life of the poet-painter William Blake. A ton of factual and visual research went into “The Poet and the Flea” as well as “The Plague and Doctor Caim.”
One major difference between “The Flea” and “Doctor Caim” is that the character of William Blake is based on a real historical figure, while the character of Doctor Caim is the amalgamation of a number of anonymous plague doctors living in the 17th century. Also, while “The Flea” has some humor to it, it is mostly a drama. I think “Doctor Caim” wouldn’t really work without its humor.
Will you be planning a launch post lockdown?
I’m definitely hoping to have a launch post lockdown.
If SPX (Small Press Expo) happens this year, I would debut “The Plague and Doctor Caim” there.
If not, I’ll have to be creative and think of something!
How can people find out more about this project?
People can find out more about this project on Kickstarter
and through my publisher Cast Iron Books