Contributor Interview: Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey

Panel from Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, adapted by Fred Van Lente with art by Ryan Dunlavey

Ryan Dunlavey and Fred Van Lente, who enthusiastically summed up the Toronto Comic Arts Festival a couple of weekends ago in this PW article, have no less than three adaptations included in volume 1 of The Graphic Canon. They answer some questions for us below.

1) What inspired you to adapt the pieces you did for The Graphic Canon?
During the course of our Action Philosophers comic book series, we twice asked the fans on our message board to vote on who we should include in a single issue of the comic. The most popular were Kierkegaard, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, who we featured in #6, “The People’s Choice.”

Then, for our ninth and final issue, as its subtitle “The Lightning Round” might suggest, we tried to cram as many thinkers into a thirty-two-page comic as possible, and again opened up the selection to the fans. The three philosophers whose stories are in The Graphic Canon—Lao Tzu, Confucius and Mary Wollstonecraft—all made the cut this time. (Which was great, because, let’s face it, we probably would have featured them anyway, given their importance in world thought. . . .)

2) What other projects are you working on at the moment?
Our second book, The Comic Book History of Comics, comes out on May 23 from IDW—it applies the same irreverent-but-accurate look at philosophy to the history of comics books and it is, to our knowledge, the only time the history of comics has been attempted in comics form. It collects our six-issue Comic Book Comics series and runs about 200 pages.

And we’ve already embarked on our third project Action Presidents . . . which is exactly what it sounds like. (grin)

Fred Van Lente will be joining other contributors to volume 1 for a signing at the Rubin Museum in NYC, Wednesday, May 23, 6pm. RSVP on Facebook: See you there!