Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our spotlight on Cullen Murphy! As many of our friends and customers know, our “bigger on the inside” bookstore on 65 James Street loves comics and cartoons, which is why we’re extra-excited about Cullen’s book, which delves into the history of Sunday Paper comics and cartoons, particularly for local artists in Connecticut. Cullen will be at our store on Saturday, January 13, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM talking about his latest book, Cartoon County, is a historical look at the Golden Age of comic strips, gag cartoonists, and magazine illustrators told through the iconic art and the relationship between a father and son.
Cullen Murphy is the editor at large at Vanity Fair and the former managing edtor of The Atlantic Monthly. He also worked with his father as an author to the Prince Valiant cartoon. His other books include of The Word According to Eve, Just Curious, and God’s Jury. He lives in
Thank you so much for joining us on our blog, Cullen! What kind of research went into writing this book? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
Cartoon County is essentially a memoir, though it’s an outer-focused one—it’s not about me but rather about my father and, more broadly, his circle of cartoonist and illustrator friends. Much of the material came simply from my recollections, or from odds and ends I discovered in my files. But one unique source of information were the diaries my father kept during World War II and the 800 or so letters he wrote home during the war years. These provided great insight into his development as an artist.
How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
I don’t know how important it has been to my writing, but it has been crucially important to my life. I grew up in New England, went to college in New England, and have lived in New England for the past three decades. I am a dyed-in-the-wool New Englander—I like the seasons, the way people are always busy, the respect for education, and even the sometimes forbidding manner that people have before they get to know you.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
I’ve got two new books under way. One is about the fountains of Rome—the city with more fountains than any other in the world, and how the fountains came to be. The other is about something that more and more people these days may find they have a need for: it’s a book about how to edit yourself.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?
As someone who has edited many hundreds of writers in the course of my career, what I’ve discovered time and again is that those who for some reason are having trouble writing have not figured out what they want to say.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
Any bookstore, really—and just about everything is available via Amazon. Online searches of the archives for The Atlantic and Vanity Fair will yield articles I’ve written.
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
My web site is cullenmurphy.com—it has all the basic information: biography, books, events, contacts.
Thank you very much for the interview, Cullen! We look forward to having you at our 65 James Street store to celebrate Cartoon County on Saturday, January 13, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM!