When Comics and Prose Collide: An Excerpt From Dave Baker’s “Mary Tyler MooreHawk”

Mary Tyler MooreHawk cover

It’s unlike that you’ve ever read a graphic novel quite like Dave Baker’s Mary Tyler MooreHawk before. This sprawling adventure tale is both a heady pulp adventure and a formally inventive work with more layers than you’d expect. (It would fit comfortably beside the work of James Stokoe and Tom Scioli on your shelves.) We’re pleased to present an excerpt from the book, along with Baker’s thoughts on making prose and comics work in harmony.

Dave Baker on prose and comics:

Prose sequences in comics have a long history. Whether that be critically acclaimed letters pages responsible for connecting a generation of readers and creators, author’s essays offering behind the scenes tidbits, or in-universe ephemera that’s tasked with building out the worlds of the four-color publications we all love so dearly, prose sequences have been here throughout the majority of the existence of serialized comics. This history is something I wanted to explore more deeply in Mary Tyler MooreHawk. I wanted to craft a book that was equal parts comics and prose. To take the promise of what projects like Casanova’s essays or the Black Dossier’s in-world files offered and push it as far as it could go. Mary Tyler MooreHawk is almost exactly half comics and half articles written by a journalist 100 years in the future, who’s obsessed with a cancelled tv show named … Mary Tyler MooreHawk. My writing in these sections is very influenced by David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. Masterful essays that convey Wallace’s inimitable voice and perspective. Both on culture and on the formal craft of writing. His use of footnotes to capture the fragmented way we all think and process information seemed to me to be a perfect way to attempt to explore themes of fandom, collecting, and the way that our entire world now processes things in terms of tribalist mindsets. So, all of that to say, I spent an inordinately long time writing this book basically for the joke of “it’s the longest behind the scenes essay to a thing that doesn’t really exist… ever.”

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