Pomplun, Tom

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Pomplun, Tom

PERSONAL: Married; wife's name, Georgene (an artist). Education: Attended Art Institute of Boston and University of Wisconsin.

ADDRESSES: Home—Mount Horeb, WI. Office—Graphic Classics, 8778 Oak Grove Rd., Mount Horeb, WI 53572.

CAREER: Former advertising art director. Cofounder and art director of periodical Rosebud, 1993–2002; Graphic Classics, Mount Horeb, WI, art director, editor, and publisher, 2001–. Computer graphics trainer.

AWARDS, HONORS: Bram Stoker Award nomination for best illustrative narrative, 2004, for Graphic Classics: Ambrose Bierce; and 2005, for Graphic Classics: Robert Louis Stevenson.

WRITINGS:

EDITOR; "GRAPHIC CLASSICS" ILLUSTRATED FICTION SERIES

Edgar Allan Poe, Eureka Productions (Mount Horeb, WI), 2002, second edition, 2004.

Arthur Conan Doyle, Eureka Productions (Mount Horeb, WI), 2002.

H. G. Wells, Eureka Productions (Mount Horeb, WI), 2002.

H. P. Lovecraft, Eureka Productions (Mount Horeb, WI), 2002.

Jack London, Eureka Productions (Mount Horeb, WI), 2003.

Ambrose Bierce, Eureka Productions (Mount Horeb, WI), 2003.

Bram Stoker, Eureka Productions (Mount Horeb, WI), 2003.

Mark Twain, Eureka Productions (Mount Horeb, WI), 2004.

Robert Louis Stevenson, Eureka Productions (Mount Horeb, WI), 2004.

Horror Classics: Graphic Classics Volume Ten, Eureka Productions (Mount Horeb, WI), 2004.

O. Henry, Eureka Productions (Mount Horeb, WI), 2005.

Adventure Classics: Graphic Classics Volume 12, Eureka Productions (Mount Horeb, WI), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Graphic-novel editor and publisher Tom Pomplun started his career in advertising before he and a few friends decided to launch the Wisconsin-based literary magazine Rosebud. The magazine focuses on fiction, poetry, and art, and Pomplun served as art director and designer for the journal. His goal was to match art to as much fiction and poetry as he could to structure each issue as a cohesive volume. He traces his love of this mix of media to being an avid reader of comics as a child. In an interview with Aaron R. Conklin in Isthmus, he commented that "they're not just pictures or words, but a unique combination that can tell stories in a different way than text or movies." He added, "I always loved the physicality—it was something you could fold in half and stick in your pocket and take anywhere to read." In 2000 Pomplun began adding comics to the pages of Rosebud. The decision proved to be the spark that led to the birth of his series "Graphic Classics."

Pomplun recalled enjoying the classics comic-book series Classics Illustrated when he was a boy. The volumes illustrated classic novels in comic-book format in an effort to attract young readers to great works of literature and are the forerunner for Pomplun's own series. Rather than luring young readers to the classics, however, he aims to entertain readers and encourage adults to indulge in the comic-book structure that they loved so much as children. In an interview with James Bickers in the Louisville Courier-Journal, Pomplun explained, "I am not on a mission to promote literacy, nor to preach to children…. My sole purpose is to entertain. I am directing these books at a contemporary, adult audience. While most of my titles are good reading for all ages, some pieces … are not appropriate for younger children."

Pomplun concentrates on classic authors and stories that are less likely to be taught in a classroom, including authors such as H. G. Wells, H. P. Lovecraft, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Jack London. With authors that typically appear on literature class reading lists, Pomplun searches out lesser-known stories to show the breadth of the author's work. He limits himself to writers who are most recently in the public domain, primarily from the early part of the twentieth century, enabling him to obtain the written materials for free and concentrate his limited production funds on paying his artists and putting together the issues. The concept is the common thread among the volumes, with each issue designed to have its own specific feel and look. Pomplun has recruited artists from around the world, working in various styles and mediums. Some are comicbook artists, while others are illustrators and graphic designers. Pomplun oversees what type of art is used for each volume, sometimes choosing to illustrate the stories instead of using the traditional comic book format.

The "Graphic Classics" series launched with a volume on the work of Edgar Allan Poe, including such famous works as "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Tell-Tale Heart," and "The Raven." Illustrations were provided by luminaries such as National Lampoon artist Rick Geary and comic artist Matt Howarth. J. M. Poole, in a review for School Library Journal, praised the careful handling of the texts, commenting that where the book "succeeds most brilliantly is in its renditions of Poe's poems, which remain untouched yet are sumptuously and often lavishly decorated."

Subsequent editions focus on authors Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, and O. Henry, while other volumes use genre as the unifying theme, such as horror fiction or adventure stories. In one review, a contributor to Publishers Weekly remarked that "with a terrific lineup of artists and unbeatable material, Pomplun has assembled a collection of Mark Twain's work that should delight graphic novel fans and anyone seeking to boost their general cultural knowledge." In the Cambridge Book Review, Bob Wake stated that "anyone wanting incontrovertible proof of O. Henry's enduring pop culture credibility need look no further than the "Graphic Classics" volume devoted to the master of the American short story. Pomplun plans for future volumes to continue in the same vein, and will consider any author in the public domain whose work he feels is suitable for his brand of illustration.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 15, 2004, Tina Coleman, review of Robert Louis Stevenson, p. 235.

Cambridge Book Review, winter, 2004–2005, Bob Wake, review of O. Henry.

Capital Times, January 14, 2003, Rob Thomas, "Graphic Classics Combines Art with Short Stories, Poems."

Isthmus, June 20, 2003, Aaron R. Conklin, "Picture This: A Local Publisher Illustrates Literary Gems."

Kliatt, September, 2004, George Galuschak, review of Robert Louis Stevenson, p. 36.

Louisville Courier-Journal, January 4, 2003, James Bickers, "Serious Entertainment: An Artistic Entrepreneur Returns to the Notion of Illustrating Great Works of Fiction."

Publishers Weekly, May 3, 2003, review of Mark Twain, p. 173.

School Library Journal, August, 2004, J. M. Poole, review of Edgar Allan Poe, p. 149.

ONLINE

Feo Amante's Horror HomePage, http://www.feoamante.com/ (February 25, 2005), "Rosebud Graphic Classics."

Graphics Classics Web site, http://www.graphicclassics.com/ (February 25, 2005).

Horror Writers Association Web site, http://www.horror.org/ (February 25, 2005), "Bram Stoker Award Ballots."

Infinity Plus Web site, http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/ (February 25, 2005), review of H. P. Lovecraft.

Mark Twain Forum Online, http://www.yorku.ca/twainweb/reviews/ (January 14, 2004), Dave Thomson, review of Mark Twain.

Newsarama.com, http://newsarama.com/ (February 25, 2005), Aaron Weisbrod, "Making the Classics Graphic: Graphic Classics."

Penguin Comics Web site, http://www.penquincomics.net/ (February 25, 2005), Tim Lasiuta, "A New Look at the Classics."

SmallBytes, http://www.smallbytes.net/ (February 25, 2005), Bob Wake, review of O. Henry.

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