In Van Buskirk’s graphic novel “Leo’s Dead” it was the image of Leo dead that never changed. In “Housewife” it is the dialogue that never changes. Todd Van Buskirk recently found a beautiful piece of clipart, looking like an old advertisment artifact from the ‘50s, and decided to make a graphic novel from it. Below is the methodology used in the making of the graphic novel “Housewife.”
1. The five panels of the clipart advertisement will be seperated from the original context and placed in a different arrangement on 8 different pages.
2. All five panels don’t need to be used on the page. One panel can be used, or a variation of the five may be used as needed.
3. The size of each panel can be shaped as needed.
4. After the intial sequence of 8 pages, the artist will repeat the 8 page sequence in a different order, and re-invert these 8 pages as needed, repetitively, until the desired page count of over 200 is achieved.
5. Only one line of dialogue is used, taken from the title of the author’s previous graphic novel.
Todd Van Buskirk’s journey into conceptual art began with reading comics as a kid.
A keen memory from Todd Van Buskirk’s childhood is that of being intrigued by a Garfield comic strip, by Jim Davis. On this strip, 2 or 3 panels were repeated—the same drawing—over and over. The next time Van Buskirk noticed this effect was in Frank Miller’s work for Marvel Comics and in Miller’s graphic novel, “Ronin.” A couple years later, while working at the Rochester Public Library, Van Buskirk accidently came across David Lynch’s “The Angriest Dog in the World.” This strip uses the same drawing in each panel, the difference being the drawing in the final panel and the changing dialogue.
As Van Buskirk expanded his knowledge of art history over a period of twenty years, including a Bachelor’s in animation graphics, he relished the element of repetition within abstract expressionism, color field painting, pop art and minimalism to name a few. The element of repetition was the one element of art he was most interested in.
With the start of his first graphic novel, “There is a comic panel on p.90,” Van Buskirk started exploring minimalism with repetition in what he calls his “color-field” books. His novels, “Rochelle’s name is seen on p.120,” and “A world where the sun is locked in an eternal sunset” are other examples of this type of book. This graphic novel title continues in this tradition.