THE CASSETTE COMIC (Attempted Not Known #11)
The Cassette Comic is a 72-page graphic novel that looks very much like a mix tape (a mix tape is a type of playlist). After the first two comic/objects--the Cigarette Comic and the Comics Cube--I was looking for other forms that would lend themselves to a collection of pages or panels. A cassette tape is a great size and shape, and the idea of a Cassette Comic appealed to me so much that I bought a carton of plastic cassette cases as soon as I thought of it. I spent a lot of time thinking about the dimensions, how to do the binding, and whether to drill holes through the entire thing. It took over a year to decide whether to add a cardboard flange to imitate the part of the cassette that is wider, along the business end.
Drawing the comics, of course, turned out to be the easy part.
What turned out to be more difficult than expected, however, was coming up with a topic for the piece. I had all the details of the form and the binding figured out, I had about 250 plastic cases, and I even knew how many pages I would need to make the cassette the correct thickness. What I didn't have was an idea.
Originally, I planned to screen-print a love story in white ink on brown accordion-folded paper (to look like magnetic tape). I figured I should make the inside of the tape out of a single piece of unbroken paper (like magnetic tape) which meant a folded piece of paper about 4 feet long. I checked the prices of long rolls of brown paper, and sketched elaborate diagrams for screen-printing batches of panels using standard screen sizes.
Then, I had a realization: "The hell with that."
It was much easier to do a standard binding, and build a book that would be easier to read. If you drop it, you don't have to re-fold the damn thing.
And, at last, a topic came to me. When I was very young, my father gave me a cassette recorder. That time in my life was interesting in a number of ways, and the cassette recorder seemed like a good way to connect the story to the form. In fact, I am hoping that it seems like I chose the story first, and then came up with a form factor to echo the theme. That would be way smarter than what really happened.
You can see the Cassette Comic and other work at Attempted Not Known and Vidrio Cafe.
From December 18 through March 13, you can see more of Peter Conrad's work at the Cartoon Art Museum.