Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Patricia Highsmith, comic book writer

Patricia Highsmith, comic book writer

I'm pretty sure the NY Times has now published three reviews of Joan Schenkar's new biography of Patricia Highsmith. This must be quite a book. The latest review, by Jeanette Winterson, makes fleeting note of Highsmith's days as a comic book writer.

"Highsmith had a kind of archive- attachment disorder; she adored lists. She chronicled, mapped, numbered and cross-referenced everything in her life, and even rated her lovers, but she wiped out what didn’t suit her and only vaguely acknowledged, when pressed by the more ferrety kind of interviewer, having conjured up a few story lines for Superman and Batman.

"In fact her job was much less glamorous than plotting for those superheroes, but the comic strip formula of threat/pursuit/fantasy life/alter ego/secret identity was the formula she used in all her work. The four-color, six-panel comic strip shaped Patricia Highsmith the crime writer like nothing else — however much she cared to cite Dostoyevsky and Henry James."

For the rest go here:

I got curious about her connection to comic books and looked around on the web to see what I could find. Here's from Wikpedia:

"In 1942 Highsmith graduated from Barnard College, where she had studied English composition, playwriting and the short story. Living in New York City and Mexico between 1942 and 1948, she wrote for comic book publishers. Answering an ad for "reporter/rewrite," she arrived at the office of comic book publisher Ned Pines and landed a job working in a bullpen with four artists and three other writers. Initially scripting two comic book stories a day for $55-a-week paychecks, she soon realized she could make more money by writing freelance for comics, a situation which enabled her to find time to work on her own short stories and also live for a period in Mexico. The comic book scriptwriter job was the only long-term job she ever held.[3]

1 comment:

David Cranmer said...

The Joan Schenkar bio is tops, Ed. I hated when it ended.