In 2013, when Julian Peters, a comic book artist and illustrator living in Montreal, published the first nine pages of his yet unfinished visual adaptation of T.S. Eliots’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock on his website, poetry and art buffs all over the internet rejoiced at the lyrical and seemingly effortless quality of the images. Peters’ works, which have been praised for both their faithfulness to the original text and their innovative, original aspects, are evocatively in perfect tune with the verses they attempt to describe. Those impressed by the aforementioned adaptation, continued on to devour the stunning interpretations of Keats, Yeats, Rimbaud, Nelligan and more, published on his website. Here, in conversation with Eye, Peters discusses his art, his inspirations, and why the juxtaposition of the visual and the verse is more relevant than ever.
1. Tell us about Julian Peters the man- where you come from, what your story is. If you had to sum yourself up in a short, autobiographical comic strip, what would you choose to draw?
I was born 35 years ago in Montreal, the son of two biology professors. My mother is Italian, and I spent a great deal of time in Italy as a child; I even did a year of elementary school over there, and one year of high school.
If I had to do a comic strip about myself (a project that, in truth, I’d rather avoid), I’d probably focus on those childhood summers spent in Italy, at the family home on the hills overlooking beautiful Lake Orta, in Piedmont. That’s my Eden, and probably the greatest repository of artistic inspiration I have. Perhaps the day will come when I will tackle the memory of those sensations head on in a comic, although it’s more the kind of thing I picture myself doing as an old man.
It’s also in Italy that I developed my passion for comics, starting with the wonderful Disney comics that they have over there (Oddly enough, Italy is the world’s largest producer of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse comics!). Then, later, my mother’s cousin, who had studied comics in Milan and who amassed a vast comics collection throughout his life, introduced me to what I consider the golden age of Italian comics, those from the late sixties to the mid eighties. These are still my favorites. Those are the comics that revived my childhood passion for the medium, and set me down the path I’m still pursuing to this day.