May 2, 2016
It's not often that Chester Brown comes out with a new book, but his latest, Mary Wept over the Feet of Jesus, was released last month from Drawn & Quarterly...giving the Two Guys with PhDs an occasion to celebrate. And compounding that celebratory spirit is the fact that the artist is now appearing on The Comics Alternative podcast! In this episode, Andy and Derek are pleased to have Chester as their guest, where they talk with him about his new book, the research that went into it, and the reaction he's been getting from readers and critics. Mary Wept over the Feet of Jesus is a series of adaptations of Old and New Testament texts as they relate to prostitution and religious observance. In it, Chester interprets the stories of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, Mary of Bethany, and Mary, mother of Jesus, along with other narratives that surround Book of Genesis, the Gospel of Matthew, and the Parables of the Talents and the Prodigal Son. What all of these explorations have in common, and what Chester makes clear during the interview, is how all inform a reading of scripture surrounding sex workers. The guys talk with their guest about these issues and how his previous works -- Paying for It as well as his earlier comics adapting the Gospels of both Mark and Matthew -- may have laid the groundwork for the current study. Much of the conversation is spent on Chester's almost-lifelong research into biblical scholarship, especially as it comes out in the extensive notes he includes in Mary Wept...hand-written annotations that take up almost a third of his book! But Andy and Derek also ask Chester about his earlier comics, such as Ed the Happy Clown, The Playboy, and Louis Riel, the death of serialization within small-press comics, and his single-panel method of composition. In other words, the guys cover a lot of ground during this interview. But as Derek and Andy point out toward the end of this episode, there was some interesting conversation that took place after the guys turned off their recording devices. But fret not; Derek was able to capture some of that talk once they realized how appropriate it would have been in their recorded interview. So if you listen all the way through to the very end of this episode, after the closing theme music, you'll be able to hear a few comments as an extra added bonus.
Much thanks, not only to Chester Brown, but to Sook-Yin Lee who helped to make this interview possible by providing her Skype account (and who can be heard in the background toward the end of the podcast preparing dinner).