Friday, August 26, 2011

The Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow

Recently I was awarded a residency at The Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs, AR to conduct further research for my documentary graphic novel currently in development. This was a fantastic opportunity to conduct interviews and compile more research. Thanks to Mary Jo Rose and all the Dairy Hollow staff, Carol Cooper, Lynn Jacobs, Keith Scales, Rebecca J. Becker, June Westphal, John Cross, the Eureka Springs History Museum staff, Crescent Hotel staff, Eureka Springs Public Library, and everyone in Eureka that has contributed information for this project.
"The Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow is a unique residency program for writers, artists, composers, architects, and chefs in the historic arts village of Eureka Springs, AR."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Research for Upcoming Graphic Novel

This upcoming documentary graphic novel entitled What Follows is True: Crescent - The Baker Years chronicles the years from 1937 to 1940 of the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, AR. A man, Norman Baker, claiming to have the cure to cancer converted the hotel into a cancer clinic.
What took place during these years is unbelievable.
I've been researching this book for the last five years. My wife and I recently traveled to Baker's hometown of Muscatine, IA, to conduct more research. I've conducted interviews with local historians and librarians and scoured numerous special collections and databases. The information found has shed light on this highly controversial figure and taken this true story to dark places I never even anticipated.
These images are of drawings and page layouts for this book as well as research conducted at the Musser Library and Muscatine Arts Center in Muscatine, IA. I've conducted an exhaustive amount of research and we'd like to thanks to Sheila Chaudoin, Fred Kopp, Virginia Cooper and all the fine folks at the Musser Library, the Muscatine Art Center, and Greenwood Cemetery for their help

Friday, August 12, 2011

Crescent: The Baker Years (In Production)

Much of my time lately has been spent on the production of this documentary graphic novel. I thought I'd take the next few weeks to explain a bit of the process that has gone into this project. I first became interested in this story a while back while staying at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, AR after going on an evening ghost tour. Among the stories of hauntings were accounts of ghostly nurses pushing patients in wheelchairs through the halls late at night. My first thought was why would many of the alleged ghosts be of medical staff and patients wandering a hotel's hallways?  My question was quickly answered when the tour guide began telling the story of Norman Baker, a fraudulent "doctor" who turned the hotel into a cancer clinic in the late 1930's. I found the story to be too unbelievable to be true. Skeptical, I ventured to the local library the next morning and learned that Baker and the cancer hospital were accurate points in Eureka's history. However, I was surprised to find that there were not any definitive books documenting these years of the Crescent's sorted history.
I decided to take on the project, and after exhausting the library of its resources, I began visiting the town's historical museum. I made copy after copy of old photos, microfiche, books, newspapers, magazines, letters, and any other related documents I could get my hands on. I scoured historical databases and interviewed people both face to face and by phone that have ties to the hotel and even Norman Baker himself. I spent much time at the hotel, doing sketches, shooting pictures and interviewing employees. I've recently been awarded a residency at Dairy Hollow Writers' Colony to conduct research and work on this project for and extended time in Eureka Springs. I'll explain more about the process from research to final work in upcoming posts.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Different Eras

Just thought I'd elaborate just a little more about the process that goes into this documentary graphic novel. Rendering eerie environments is always a lot of fun and this project is particularly so because I'm drawing from sketches I did while visiting the Crescent Hotel and from old photos and other researched documents. Throughout the book I illustrate exteriors and interiors as it is now (top right and bottom right), as it was during the turn of the century (bottom left), and as it was as the cancer hospital of the late nineteen thirties (top left). We will also visit the abandoned, lurid halls of the hospital/hotel as it lay dormant in the nineteen forties. This is a good story and it is a dark story that needs to be told. I've chosen to tell it in the format I know best.
This is a work in progress but is scheduled to be completed in early 2012.