Interview: Nate Powell on ‘Swallow Me Whole’

Nate Powell hits upon some pretty heavy subject matter in his latest graphic novel Swallow Me Whole, now out frolm Top Shelf. We’re talking childhood schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, family breakdown, animal telepathy, and misguided love, just to name a few. The Indiana-based cartoonist traverses the familiar territory of teen angst and all the growing pains associated with it in his new work, but without the formulaic melodrama that so often saturates the topic. When he isn’t tackling the troubling madness of adolescence as an author and artist, Powell splits his time operating DIY punk label Harlan Records and works with adults with developmental disabilities.

Despite his oh-so busy schedule, ComicMix recently had the chance go catch up with Powell before he hits up the Alternative Press Expo this weekend in San Francisco. Here’s what he had to say about his new work, how he hooked up with publisher Top Shelf and what’s next on his plate:

ComicMix: First off, let’s start with some background material. You’ve lived in a number of locales, that’s for sure. Where have your travels taken you and where are you at now? As for comics, do you remember when you first discovered them and what led you to create your own.

Nate Powell: I’m from North Little Rock, Arkansas, and since early 2004 I’ve lived in Bloomington, Indiana. In between I’ve also lived in Montana, Alabama, DC, New York City, Kansas City, Michigan, western Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

As for comics — when I was a toddler in Montana I read a lot of Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, and Hulk comics. Apparently I spontaneously began reading out of a Fantastic Four activity book when I was three years old.