Fantagraphics Books is publishing The Late Child and Other Animals, a new graphic work from Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger, the creative team that produced 7 Miles A Second, the acclaimed graphic memoir of the late multimedia artist and AIDs activist David Wojnarowicz. The Late Child and Other Animals tells the story of Van Cook’s mother, a survivor of the Nazis bombing of England, and Van Cook’s teen years. The book will be published in November 2014.
The new book is a generational memoir that begins in Portsmouth England, bombed by the Nazis during World War II. The book is also an examination of social caste, secrets and the heartless shaming of out-of-wedlock mothers and their “bastard” children in postwar England. Marguerite’s mother, Hetty, a survivor of the bombing that leveled Portsmouth, finds that her soldier-husband has been killed in North Africa. A decade later Hetty, not married to the new baby’s father, gives birth to Marguerite, a “bastard daughter,” in the eyes of the town. Hetty is legally compelled to go before a civil tribunal to prove she is a fit mother. The new book is, in part, the story of that experience and takes the story of Marguerite’s life up to Paris in 1968, when she is a teenager.
The book will be in color—in addition to writing the book, Marguerite was also the colorist. French publication rights have already been sold. James Romberger will do the drawings and lettering. “He drew my mother really well,” Van Cook said laughing. The new book’s publication is being announced after last year’s release of 7 Miles a Second (also from Fantagraphics) and the release of Post York, an Eisner Award-nominated post apocalyptic novella by Romberger and their son Crosby Romberger, published by Uncivilized Books in 2013.
Both Romberger and Van Cook are legendary figures on the Lower East Side art, music and comics scene of New York City and they typically collaborate to produce their comics entirely, from cover design and color to lettering. Although the book recounts a traumatic period in her life, Van Cook said it’s also been fun, “the fun is that I get to write the thing and work with James who drew it. I get to color it and then shoot it on straight through. We do it all soup to nuts.”
“I changed some points of view but it’s not fiction,” Van Cook said. “The one thing about trauma, you remember the voice in your head of that time. This is my real life.”