In 1986 (I think it was), I had been living in Los Angeles. Not only did I purchase my first computer there, I wrote a fantasy novel set in New York City. The book was actually purchased by one editor, but then dropped, when in the process of revision I realized to write a novel set in a modern city, without people of color, made no sense. I offered the book to another publisher, who turned it down saying, “It had no salt.” I put the book aside, not sure what to do with it. A few months later, I read an article by artist Will Eisner, in which he argued that the graphic novel, a term he popularized, was a legitimate form of literature.
Bells rang in my head. As a kid, I adored comic books and read them by the thousands. It struck me that my novel was rather like a comic book tale and could find life in that form.
By then I was living in Providence, Rhode Island, and had become an acquaintance of David Macaulay who was teaching illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design. I asked him if he knew of any comic strip artists. He suggested one of his students—who was also a student at Brown University. The young man drew a daily strip for the Brown University student newspaper. The student’s name was Brian Floca.
By that time my editor was Richard Jackson, then of Orchard Books. I suggested he take my novel and we would transform it into a graphic novel. He was dubious, until I sent him a copy of Maus, the extraordinary graphic novel by Art Spiegelman. That book convinced Richard that there was validity to the form. We three became a team.
Brian and I met often over a period of years to create City of Light, City of Dark. It is still around and still enjoyed. And Brian is still traveling fast.