Q&A with graphic novelist Paul Hornschemeier

Paul Hornschemeier has taken the idea of abstract art to a new level with “Artists Authors Thinkers Directors,” a collection …

Paul Hornschemeier has taken the idea of abstract art to a new level with “Artists Authors Thinkers Directors,” a collection of 100 portraits of famous figures, each rendered in a unique style that, abstractly, amounts to a self-portrait of the artist himself.

“I had been drawing portraits for some time before I realized there was any thematic connection,” says Hornschemeier, who had a New York Times best-seller with his graphic novel “Life with Mr. Dangerous.” “The collection itself came from my interest of creating a sort of abstract self-portrait from all these different portraits. These are some of the people that have made my brain work the way it does, or doesn’t.”

amNewYork caught up with Hornschemeier — who also works with the show “Comedy Bang Bang” and recently launched a Web series, “Forlorn TV,” on YouTube — in advance of his event at the Strand tomorrow night.

Who are some of the New Yorkers in the book and how did they influence you?

Two of the biggest for me are Edward Gorey and Steve Ditko. Their art and storytelling sensibilities massively affected me when encountering them at a young age. Ditko’s comics were the first I ever read, and Gorey’s work was my first introduction to macabre humor. He also showed how dedicated and meticulous you could be in the execution of a simple gag, and I loved that.


Who were some of the easiest people to capture?

Some people just tell you how they needed to be drawn. I’d hate to know what that says about my mental health. [J.D.] Salinger was one that just happened. [Stanley] Kubrick was another. They both had amazingly clear voices in their work, so maybe that’s why they were so unproblematic.


Who were some of the toughest?

[Edward] Hopper was a wrestling match, as was Billy Wilder. Which makes sense to me in retrospect: Wilder’s career spans every possible point on the genre spectrum. And Hopper’s paintings manage to be simultaneously still and violent.


How did you come to work with “Comedy Bang Bang,” and what have you done with them?

The host and show creator, Scott Aukerman, is a comics fan, so I met him through conventions. I originally just did the logo for the show, but when they were shooting the pilot I contributed the set artwork, and from there animated the title sequence.


What is “Forlorn TV”?

It’s something I’ve been working on for quite a while. It will be a lot of monologues and short stories, where a single character will just be taking us on a short trip through a memory or a thought. I’ll be doing a fair amount of them, but I’ve already recorded a bunch with other people and they’re great. … There will also be short shows, one-off things that I’ll throw in the mix.

Scott A. Rosenberg