Former MONDOcomics editor Adam Bourret has just begun to release his first book online. I’m Crazy is a deeply personal autobiographical narrative about Adam’s obsessive compulsive disorder. The book opens as Adam begins dating Alistair, a theatre artist who is fascinated by Adam’s disorder. The book explores how OCD has affected Adam’s relationships with his boyfriends, family, and friends — both real and imaginary.
MONDO: Can you introduce “I’m Crazy” for me?
Adam Bourret: Geez, that’s hard. It’s an autobiographical graphic novel. It’s about having a mental disorder and trying to factor that in to your daily life. You end up with all these secrets and all these things about you that are inappropriate to tell. It’s about how you convey that about yourself.
MONDO: You reveal a lot of these secrets in the book; what was that process like? Had something changed within yourself to allow you to reveal them to a broader audience, or was this part of the therapy?
AB: I hadn’t really intended to at first. But I started dating Alistair just after I started. The next couple of months were very exciting for me, because he really wanted to know my secrets. I ended up telling them one at a time. After I told them I became kind of obsessed with telling them. There were all these things about them that I never got the opportunity to see before, so every time I told one, I ended up putting it in the book.
MONDO: What was the initial intention?
AB: I didn’t really have much of a plan, to tell you the truth. I just started producing all these little vignettes about being obsessive compulsive and unhinged. Then there were vignettes about Alistair, then they came together. He made it a book really. The way I felt about him and the secrets I was telling formed a story, and all the little vignettes and reflections kind of fell into line.
MONDO: You worked with Canadian cartoonist Chester Brown on this book. Can you talk about working with him and what he brought to the process?
AB: Chester was pretty amazing. He was a very demanding reader. He’d say things like “Why don’t you talk about this?” And I’d say “Because it’s too embarrassing.” And he’d say “Too bad.” He’s the sort of critic that makes you fight for your ideas. He didn’t permit me to be lazy or say “Oh, I just like it that way.” There had to be reasons why the story was shaping up the way it did, and I think knowing those reasons makes it a better book.
MONDO: Interesting. Was there any advice he gave you as a cartoonist that has really stuck with you?
AB: He told me to keep drawing, which is pretty important. Sometimes when things are going wrong, you want to stop or consider something new. But it’s more helpful to keep drawing rather than second guess yourself. Second guessing yourself makes you lose your momentum. You can always redraw it.
MONDO: In fact, you completely redrew this comic after finishing it the first time, correct?
AB: Yeah, that was harsh. It was all finished, but I just kept looking at it and I knew I could do it better. So I traced the whole comic and redrew it. It was super boring, but it’s my first real book, so I wanted to do the best I could. Chester was really surprised, but it did look better.
AB: Not exclusively; the book’s being printed in its entirety right now, and people will be able to buy it from the site and in stores. Making the website is just about making sure as many people as possible can see it. The website releases a page every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It will take about a year to tell the whole story.
MONDO: It’s the obvious question, but who are your biggest influences?
AB: Chester is probably the biggest. He was doing this kind of stuff a long time before I was. Beyond that, I don’t know, everyone in comics. I love all kinds of comics. I hope my comics don’t look like any particular type of comics, because I like them all.
MONDO: Any parting words for the people at home?
AB: Read “I’m Crazy.” Also, does this mean I don’t get to answer the MONDO question?
MONDO: Oh, man that’s an old faithful. But, yeah. If you could fight any other cartoonist, who would it be and who would you get to draw it?
AB: Hooray! I fight that guy who draws Dilbert, then force him to draw his own defeat. Everyone hates Dilbert.