An Interview with Author and Cartoonist, Wolfgang Niesielski
Thursday, April 26, 2001 4:24:00 PM
by Wolfgang Niesielski
|An Interview with Author and Cartoonist, Wolfgang Niesielski, By James D. Thwaites
Q. Please give details about your Book(s), your website and other endeavors.
A. Two books are featured on my website www.wolfski.org. One is called “Touched by Choi” the other is “A Parallel Universe”. “Touched by Choi” is a horror/mystery novel about an artist working at a tourist seaside town called Ocean City. It describes, first his feeling of alienation towards the townspeople, but then builds into suspense, as strange happenings seem to occur to wealthy occupants of the villas in the hills surrounding the town. The other book, “A Parallel Universe” consists of a collection of offbeat cartoons about work, sex, animals and peculiar reports from a bizarre universe.
Being an entrepreneur at heart I am offering these for sale on my website. One can also purchase them at amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, some Borders bookstores and other outlets. Since we’re on the subject, other items like cartoons and similar artwork are also for sale and so am I, or rather my time and skill as a caricature artist is.
Q. Your books show a wide difference in styles and approaches, why so diverse?
A. I am interested in a great variety of subjects, topics and issues. So, whenever I embark on a new endeavor, I like to take into consideration all the tools of expression available to me. An idea might be more suitable for a more intricate and involved treatment in a novel, or better expressed by a humorous punch line in a cartoon, or by the complex structure of words and ideas that a poem might convey.
Drawings and paintings in themselves contain a whole other universe of expressions. A brilliant color, a certain shape in a picture or a humorous depiction in a cartoon can touch upon emotions unattainable by mere words.
Q. Explain the general line you take from going from an idea to a poem to a book.
A. I really don’t have one formula or method to approach and complete a work. Sometimes I just start out with a general opinion, feeling or notion about a subject and find myself in the middle trying to work backwards to uncover a compelling beginning, then forwards to make the conclusion as strong as possible. If I’m lucky I’m able to see the end product and then work feverishly to build a body around it.
In the case of my book “Touched by Choi” I started out with describing how a portrait artist might view the face of his subject. At that point I had no clue that it would develop into a mystery/horror novel. It just grew when one idea followed the next and the events and characters seemed to dictate the story by themselves. Sometimes I just like the way a word or a phrase sounds and then I try to construct something around it.
Q. What impact has the Internet had on your art? Do you think that ten years ago, before the widespread use of the Internet, you would
have had the success you now see?
A. Anybody who ever had to face indifferent, aloof editors and had to deal with the incredible frustration of seemingly arbitrary rejection letters will welcome the opportunity of being able to showcase his or her work on the Internet for all the world to see. Even and especially those already famous and successful are now able to increase their market even further.
Although editors and folks responsible for insuring quality and profitable feasibility are a necessary entity in the world of creative endeavors – notably, of course, to save us time and money plowing through boring, useless and even misleading ideas – the Internet is helping to crack open the chokehold that corporate powers have upon free thought and creativity. Interested only in the extreme commercial viability of bestsellers, publishers are less and less attracted to support poets, writers and artists who don’t fit into the increasingly narrowing spectrum of mass entertainment. Since independent bookstores, which in the past were able to feature rare books, ideas and works of art by brilliant people with smaller reputations, are being taken over by the behemoths of gigantic conglomerates, perhaps, the Internet now seems our only way left to discover bright new talent.
Q. Speaking of success, how to you rate that as an artist? Do you think you've achieved success? How far have you gone with your writing?
A. I haven’t raked in the 60 million bucks as Tom Clancy and Stephen King did last year – as a matter of fact, it seems I’m lagging sorely behind – but I consider myself being successful. I have written several books and published two. I am constantly writing and creating and if someone enjoys what I do – the better. My first book, an adventure and crime thriller about a boxer, “A Cosmic Joke”, is being re-edited and right now I’m more than halfway through a humor novel. In between I like to write poems and create outrageous offbeat cartoons.
Q. What would you consider the biggest flaw or shortcoming in many emerging artists?
A. Being a product of a corporate dominated consumer society, I think, many writers and artists are only aiming at commercial success, therefore neglecting experimentation and the trying out of new ideas and concepts that have made the past so rich and fertile and therefore contributed to the advancement of society in general. You only have to look at Hollywood blockbuster movies to recognize the bland sameness connecting most of them. Only once in a great while a new idea bursts through and then, many times, it turns out to be coming to us from overseas.
Q. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A. In ten years I hope to have joined the writers I mentioned in my answer to question 5, therefore totally negating my point in my reply to question 6, which means being a consumer society member myself I can be bought for pure cash as well. If that doesn’t happen, I hope by then I have written several more books and have stretched myself artistically and creatively as much as it is possible for me.
Q. What other writers have influenced you?
A. I was born in Germany and lived there until age 22. My education and introduction to literature naturally consisted mostly of German writers, although translations of American, British and writers of all corners of the world were available and popular throughout my upbringing. I read any writer from Karl May to Hermann Hesse to Guenther Grass. In American writers I enjoy many styles as well, as diverse as Hemingway’s clip and terse literal approach of tossing the reader into a world of lonely, alienated individuals to Saul Bellow’s estranged souls living in an uncaring society to the anarchistic, self-indulgent gonzo journalism of Hunter S. Thompson.
Q. If you had to sum up your books/writing in three words what would they be?
A. To force an author to narrow down his writing to three little words is the absolute height of meanness but I hope words like “diverse, exciting and funny” would be part of such a summation.
Q. What is you favorite style of expression?
A. As an immigrant, trying to come to grips with the new language, writing a novel in English seemed to be a preposterous idea for a long time. It takes a while to grasp the nuances of a foreign language and one might never become totally proficient in it. The meaning and the subtleness of expressions, idioms and phrases seem impossible to fathom and many times totally incomprehensible for a newcomer. So my newfound ability to turn ideas into words that readers might enjoy became like a brand-new toy. Therefore writing stories and creating poems is very exciting for me, although drawing cartoons and doing artwork is enjoyable as well.