It’s the most run-derful time of the year, and a new graphic novel by artist Sebastien Samson is a delightful visual journey through what it takes to conquer the New York City Marathon.
“My New York Marathon” starts in France, where Samson was living when, thanks to his partner and friends, he decided to tackle a marathon. As anyone who has trained for a marathon can attest, the task has its moments of epiphanies but also its moments of failure and frustration.
Page by page, readers follow Samson as he learns about himself, nature and the world around him in the months leading up to the big race in New York City. The book ends with a tour of the city through the eyes of someone seeing it all for the first time.
Before the NYC Marathon this weekend, publisher Humanoids has organized several events where Samson will be doing live drawing sessions, answering questions alongside Boston Marathon-winner Amby Burfoot, and signing copies of the graphic novel.
You can catch him at New York Road Runner’s Club Runcenter (320 W. 57th St.) on Nov. 2 from 6-7 p.m., and at Kinokuniya Bookstore (1073 Sixth Ave.) on Nov. 3 from 1-3 p.m.
We asked Samson about the project and what he hopes New Yorkers take away:
What was your biggest misconception about New York City going into the race?
Before discovering New York City, I thought that people were only a tiny part of what brings it to life. On the contrary, women and men are the very heart of the city and the heart of the race.
Was there anything that was exactly as you expected?
Nothing really resembled what I imagined. I came totally blind to what a marathon or even New York City would look like. Two dreams coming to life at the same time!
You mention how friendly law enforcement was, and the "Simpsons’" reference was hilarious. Why was that surprising?
In France, as in many other countries, the power of American popular culture is indisputable. I couldn’t draw the story without meeting the true heroes of the city and the hero of my favorite animated TV series!
What did you see as you ran that surprised you most about New York City?
The richness of the human experience. The massive number of runners from around the world coming together to share this unique day and the complete passion that New Yorkers demonstrated throughout the course.
You mention Paul Auster. Did his work inspire this project in anyway?
Paul Auster is an inspiration. I like how he scrutinizes human beings for their sweetness, but also their sharp edges.
Checking your watch on the Queensboro Bridge at the 3 hour mark — was that your biggest mistake of the whole endeavor?
If only looking at my watch had been my only mistake! Not taking my training more seriously was much more damaging.
With the city being a known terror target, were you fearful at all?
Not at all! I’ve run many different marathons, and nothing will stop me.
What do you hope New Yorkers take away from this project?
Be proud of your incredible city! It continues to inspire the world and always will as long as it has the energy of its people.