❉ A book with a difference for cult film afficionados.
The Last Coloring Book is a book for adults who buy colouring books, and those who don’t. On the surface, the book seems aimed at the segment of the adult colouring book audience who are cult film afficionados, and while it certainly will more than satisfy on that level, it’s also a much more significant work. We Are Cult spoke to its creators, New Texture’s Jimmy Angelina and Wyatt Doyle.
Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourselves and your background?
Jimmy: I’m from Chicago, originally. I went to college in Vermont—Bennington College—which is where I first met Wyatt. I studied drawing and sculpture there. I also played in some bands and did all the usual art school type stuff. From there I moved to San Francisco, and then to New York City (and then back to Vermont, and then to Louisville, KY—but I won’t bore you with those details!). I kept working on my drawing and got some illustration work here and there, and participated in gallery shows. I had taken a bit of a break from drawing, and was just starting to get back into it when Wyatt proposed working together. Working on the book has been a real deep joy, as I’m (as Wyatt is, on a whole other level) a huge movie obsessive. It’s been nice to be able to channel my obsession into something that was so much fun to do.
Wyatt: I started in Philadelphia as a newspaperman, later moving to Los Angeles, where I worked as a development executive at Paramount and Warner Brothers. I’ve done a lot of documentary work, much of it split between two subjects: The easy-listening vocal duo Sandler & Young, and Rev. Raymond Branch, an 84-year-old singing preacher from New Orleans, aka The Saint of South Los Angeles. He broadcast his DIY radio show for over 40 years, and it was like something beamed in from another century. Another planet, sometimes!
I was a columnist for Asian Cult Cinema magazine for a few years. I’ve written CD liner notes for Rhino. I’ve recorded well-received audio commentaries for a few different DVD/Blu companies. I take pictures. I make music with The Stanley J. Zappa Quartet. I helped Georgina Spelvin put her memoirs into print. I’ve studied with jazz greats Bill Dixon and Milford Graves, and Twilight Zone scribe George Clayton Johnson. I wrote a screenplay with Jason Cuadrado that was filmed as Devil May Call. I founded Borgnine Saturday as an annual global holiday.
New Texture is described as an ‘independent arts collective of books, music and visual art’. How did it all begin? What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
Wyatt: I knew a lot of writers and artists who were producing work I liked a lot, but it was mostly going unseen and unread. There’s strength in numbers, and your audience plus my audience equals a potentially larger audience for both of us. With that in mind, I started NewTexture.com as an online salon/showcase. By 2009, we were publishing books. Now we release music, too.
So, what have you produced so far? Where can we buy or see them?
Wyatt: Over 20 books of sideways autobiography and secret history, and six CDs. We’ve published Josh Alan Friedman’s monumental Black Cracker, after mainstream publishers got cold feet. We also reprinted his Tell the Truth Until They Bleed in a new, corrected edition, and we’ve just released his new album, Sixty, Goddammit, which includes his killer acoustic-guitar cover of “Theme from Shaft.”
Our Men’s Adventure Library series collects lost American hard-boiled fiction and jaw-dropping pulp illustration art from the 1950s through the ’70s, including early stories and commentary by Harlan Ellison, Mario Puzo, Robert Silverberg, Lawrence Block, and others. (We were flattered to discover Guillermo del Toro is a fan!) Six volumes are out now, more are planned. nu luna is an epic SF novel of lunar revolution by Andrew Biscontini, who’s paneled with Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven. Teacher Tales is a dark, twisted and hilarious novel by Richard Adelman, himself a retired teacher. My book, Stop Requested, centers on encounters on Los Angeles public transit. It’s illustrated by the visionary Stanley J. Zappa, whose music we release. I’ve published two books of photographs: Dollar Halloween, devoted to shoddy Halloween items found in dollar stores, and a book of street scenes and street people, I Need Real Tuxedo and a Top Hat!
Your latest publication is The Last Colouring Book. What inspired this project, and can you tell us a little about the creative process behind it?
Jimmy: As Wyatt was the brains behind the idea, I’ll leave him to speak to what inspired it. As for the creative process—I found it hugely enjoyable. Wyatt picked the movies, and the relevant text, and let me loose on the drawings. I let each choice come as a surprise, and then did my best to try to bring something of the movie itself into each drawing. It was sometimes very challenging work, but ALWAYS fun.
Wyatt: We knew were interested in working together, which led to some wide-ranging conversations. One subject we circled back to a few times was the fact that adults have become massive consumers of material clearly intended for kids, or of adult material presented in childish modes. We had some animated discussions about that. But mostly we talked movies. And out of those conversations came the idea for The Last Coloring Book.
What are the main inspirations and influences behind your work?
Jimmy: Movie-wise, people who have influenced my drawing include Federico Fellini, Stanley Kubrick, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Luis Bunuel, David Lynch, Orson Welles and Terry Gilliam. Other visual artists whose work I love include Egon Schiele, Kathe Kollwitz, Bruno Schulz, Francis Bacon, Moebius, and Gene Colan.
Wyatt: Love me, love my friends: Sammy Davis, Jr., Ennio Morricone, Klaus Kinski, Serge Gainsbourg, Juan Rulfo, Langston Hughes, Jerzy Kosinski, Charles Willeford, Orson Welles, Bill Dixon, Lon Chaney, Mark Twain, Francoise Hardy, Melvin Van Peebles, Ray Bradbury, Alfred Bester, Bukowski, Samuel Johnson, George Romero, Vivian Stanshall, Walter Tevis, Robert Downey Sr., Dave Alvin, Leo & Diane Dillon, Jodorowsky, Poe, H.L. Mencken, Stephen Potter, Dennis Potter, John Barry, Harlan Ellison, Stanley J. Zappa, Borges, Warren Zevon, Sam Shepard, Vanessa Del Rio, Oliver Reed, Diabolik, and Eli Wallach in the role of Tuco.
What are your main creative tools?
Jimmy: For the book, just Sharpie markers. For my other stuff—markers, pencils, oil pastels and charcoal.
Wyatt: Pen and paper. A camera. Good boots.
Why did you choose to self-publish this book?
Wyatt: New Texture’s been a going concern for around ten years now, so we’re not inexperienced at selling books. We’ve got wide distribution, and we have a pretty good idea of how to market what we produce. Handing the book over to someone else would only open it up to compromise. I’m not interested in someone else’s ideas about how to make it a more commercial venture; that wouldn’t be the book we were interested in producing. The book we published is the book we wanted to publish.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Wyatt: My goal is for our books to be discovered and read. So I want this material out there and accessible—indefinitely—to the largest possible audience. New Texture publishes unconventional material, and unconventional material usually needs time to find its readership. Traditional publishing, like all media, has adopted the hard-charging, blockbuster mentality—win big and win fast, or you’re out. The clock is always ticking! I’ve opted out of that approach. I prefer to bet on the high caliber of our releases, and the idea that quality will out. New doesn’t necessarily mean good; good means good. Black Cracker, for example, is a classic. Read today or twenty years from now, it’s always going to be a great book. It has a long life ahead of it; I predict it’ll be “rediscovered” more than once. It’s that kind of book. So my priorities as a publisher are walking the walk when it comes to respecting creators’ rights, and ensuring wide, continued availability of the work.
How do you market your products?
Wyatt: NewTexture.com, YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter. Readers can order our books from most booksellers, both online and in the real world; our distribution’s through Ingram. Our music’s out there via the usual channels, digital and disc. We stage readings, perform concerts, give talks. I’m now working more closely with brick and mortar booksellers to put our books on more shop shelves. Attention, bookshops: We are bookstore people, and we want to work with you! Let’s talk.
Why did you choose this route?
Wyatt: I know a bit about printing and distribution, I understand packaging and marketing, and our releases are all motherfuckers. What can a traditional publisher offer me, exactly? Money? Money’s nice, but unless something blew up really big, really quickly, it’d likely be short money. And meanwhile my book would be out there with someone else’s idea of what should be on the cover, or in its pages. And I wouldn’t own my work, so if low sales (by corporate standards) put it out of print, that’d likely be it. Sounds terrible! So I’ll stay the course—with an eye on the horizon.
What are you working on at the minute? Do you have any upcoming projects?
Jimmy: I’m working on another couple of books with Wyatt, and I’m always in the market for any freelance work.
Wyatt: My book I Need Real Tuxedo and a Top Hat! (photos and stories) is out next, followed by a new illustrated release from The Men’s Adventure Library, I Watched Them Eat Me Alive, collecting outrageous tales and artwork of man versus beast. On CD, The Stanley J. Zappa Quartet Plays for the Society of Women Engineers is coming up, and we’re planning live performances in support of that. There’s a deluxe hardcover edition of my book Stop Requested out, too.
Is there anything unique about yourselves that you would like your readers to know?
Jimmy: When I lived in New York City, I was roommates with Peter Dinklage, and we played in a band together. I played drums, he played trumpet (I should probably leave it at that!) I hope that’s unique!
Maybe more pertinently, I once got to spend a night watching TV, eating pizza and hanging out with the great comics artist, Gene Colan, and his wife, Adrienne, at their home in Vermont. He’s one of my biggest influences, so I was thrilled to the core to get to spend some time with him. He was incredibly nice, and he showed me a lot of his original pieces, which was an amazing experience. Mostly, he and his wife were fun to be around, and we had a great night of eating, drinking and laughing. Yeah—that’s a night that sticks with me.
Wyatt: I’ve been the subject of anecdotes in books by both Tina Fey and Billy Childish, but neither used my name. It’s inspired me to start claiming anonymous mentions in other memoirs; I’m currently looking for an opening in Peter O’Toole’s Loitering With Intent.
How can our readers discover more about you and your work?
Wyatt: Just about everything we make can be previewed and purchased via NewTexture.com
❉ The Last Coloring Book by Jimmy Angelina and Wyatt Doyle is available from Amazon UK at the special price of £11.24