Martin Lemelman: In the candy store there was a wall of comics, and I was allowed to read them, but I was never allowed to keep them, because they were for sale. I read them and then I'd have to put them back. Too bad I didn't keep them, because I'd be a millionaire now!
It was inconceivable, in my parent's life, that their child would be an artist, I became interested in becoming an artist by accident, not so much because of comics, although I loved comics. I couldn't really keep the comics or anything in the store as my own. There were, however, drawers with broken toys and broken things that were of no use, and I would look through them, and I found art materials that were a little bit dried out or broken, like a paint by numbers set and I started drawing and painting and it was just by accident.
You weren't allowed to keep the comics, but were you allowed to eat the candy?
Since my mother was a Holocaust survivor, one of the major fights I had with her was eating. She would want me to eat anything. It was almost like saying, "No, I don't want anymore."
Is the book is geared toward an adult audience?
It's both an adult and a teen book, I've had people email me and say they're reading it with their pre-teen, which is ok, but it's more of an adult or teen book.
Do you think that you'll be able to expose a different audience to your story, having written a graphic novel as opposed to a regular novel?
Yeah, well, I think because I'm visually oriented, it wasn't even a question of me doing it as a traditional memoir. I wasn't thinking about it in terms of my audience. Right before I started doing the graphic memoirs, I was doing things for little kids and I did want to expand. It wasn't so much like I was trying to get an audience, I wanted to have a different voice, to expand my voice.
Who are some graphic novelists you really admire?
I like Craig Thompson, he did this book Blankets. I love Art Speigelman, the Maus series; I really admire Harvey Pekar and his American Splendor series, and Will Eisner.