An Interview with MCA Denver’s “How Art is Born” Podcast Host and Graphic Novelist, R. Alan Brooks
By Tai Bickham
Issue 094, October 2021
This is an excerpt from a recent blog interview with Denver-based graphic novelist and podcast host, R. Alan Brooks. He has authored multiple graphic novels like The Burning Metronome, Anguish Garden, and the recently published Grieving Mall, hosts a weekly podcast, Mother F**ker In A Cape, which focuses on marginalized members of the geek world, and he is the host of MCA Denver’s first podcast series, How Art is Born, which will feature Colorado artists and the nature of their creative processes. I was pretty excited to learn more about Alan, and delve into his inspiration, creative intentions, and how art is born for him.
Can you share what brought about your love of comic books? Who is your favourite comic book character?
When I was 5 years old, my father (a journalist) introduced me to comic books, because he wanted to encourage a love of reading in me. It worked! I’ve always been partial to Batman, but for reasons that are perhaps a little different than other fans. Inherent in that character is a dynamic where people want him to be the leader of things, because of his capabilities — but most often, he prefers to do his own thing, off in the shadows. And that dynamic exists within my own life.
What is the power of the graphic novel that other, perhaps more traditional literary mediums, may not possess?
Great question! Graphic novels are the only visual medium that can be created by one person, or a small team. So, it means that you get some personal, intimate stories that you might not always get in a cartoon or a film.
But another aspect of graphic novels is that the reader controls the pacing. As artists, we can do things to encourage the reader to speed up and slow down at certain parts, but it’s not passive for the reader like a movie is. The experience of reading a graphic novel is private, and close-up, in a very distinct way that I love.
What about our new podcast series How Art is Born are you excited about?
I love meeting and talking to all of these new artists, and hearing how their passions feed into their art. For this podcast, I’ve talked with a culinary artist, a photographer, a comedian and more! And, it’s cool to hear how they all approach their art, and what’s important to them in the making of it.
There is a way that we can sometimes have a narrow definition of art, so I love how this podcast challenges the boundaries of that, and gives me a chance to tap into the passions of these immensely creative and talented folks!
How is art born for you?
Ah, that’s a tricky question, isn’t it? And not one to be answered very succinctly. I guess that’s why I’m having entire conversations with other artists about this very topic! But, briefly, sometimes art is about exorcising some feeling or thought that I have about something, and placing it into some creative form.
Other times, it’s about communicating some message or theme that’s important to me.
And with both of these, I want to do it in a way that engages other people, and hopefully give them the chance to think about their own choices in life.
Art has this ability to take an intangible thing — like love, pain, frustration, isolation, happiness, etc. — and make it into something we can interact with and communicate about. And I love that so much.
Read the rest of the interview at mcadenver.org.
How Art is Born is available on Apple and Spotify. Visit mcadenver.org/podcast for more information.
This feature was produced in partnership with MCA Denver.