Fantagraphics Books has acquired the only graphic novel written by William S. Burroughs the godfather of the beat movement and the author of the classic experimental novel Naked Lunch. Burroughs’ “lost” graphic masterpiece, Ah Pook Is Here, was created in collaboration with artist Malcolm McNeill in the 1970s. Fantagraphics plans to publish it in the summer of 2011 in an innovative two-volume hinged set along with Observed While Falling, McNeill’s memoir of working with Burroughs.
Ah Pook Is Here first appeared in the 1970s as a monthly comic strip in the British magazine Cyclops. When the magazine folded, Burroughs and McNeill decided to develop the strip into a full-length “Word/Image” novel (the term “graphic novel” had yet to be invented). The book was conceived as 120 continuous pages that would fold out. But when they failed to find a publisher for the innovative project, Burroughs and McNeill eventually abandoned it after 7 years.
Next summer, this groundbreaking work that mixes ancient Mayan priests and a William Randolph Hearst-like American newspaper baron in a complex time-traveling plot that indicts the elites of both meso-American and modern American societies will at least see publication in the form its creators envisioned.