The Antichrist Accepts His Book Award

April 18, 2013   •   By Andrew Nicholls

THANK YOU SO MUCH to the Times, to USC, and to everyone who worked so hard to make this evening happen. 

As great an honor as this is, I can’t help but be reminded that my original intention was to so defile Man and his spawn yea unto the 10th generation that Earth would become a coal-red wasteland where the living would envy the dead.

How I ended up writing and drawing a graphic novel — your recognition of which, don’t get me wrong, is terrific — I still have to get my head around.

I think after the political fiasco and the failure of my toy line I was hoping I could convey a message of such irresistible evil that all who beheld it would be tempted into foulest stinking corruption, triggering the End Times.

I may have overestimated the effectiveness of the graphic novel as a form.

Though my fellow nominees, I have to say, are doing some incredible things with it.

People ask if I start with the story or the pictures. The answer to that is, I started with the need to make all but the elect of God know the wrath of the Beast. Then the pictures.

Maybe as an artist or an antichrist you’re always dissatisfied. Like, I wanted a first print run of six billion. Candlewick went with 20,000. (Though we did just get into a third printing — thank you Ben Lazar, super agent!)

The other nominees, though I wish they were grinding their teeth into powder in hell, were also terrific (I know, I’m saying “terrific” too much). I read A Pocketful Of Erna, which is ... so moving. I recommend it to any human being looking for something that speaks with intelligence and compassion to our condition. Well, your condition.

People ask, why a graphic novel? Frankly I should have spent more time asking that myself. With a well-reviewed restaurant serving boldly reimagined regional cuisine I might have poisoned several hundred people a night, depending on cancellations and the swiftness of the Health Department. Of course I dabbled in international banking, arms manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and adjunct teaching before deciding to help advance a literary form that even now, long after Maus and Watchmen, doesn’t get enough respect. (Applause)

Also, I thought anything with pictures would be an easier pitch to the movies. You know what it’s like getting those people to read.

(By the way my children’s picture book, Luggo the Unhappy Mule, is 25 percent funded on Kickstarter. To everyone who has contributed so far, thank you. Eight days to go; call your friends!)

Several beginners have asked how I found my distinctive hateful vision. I tell them read everything you can — fiction, nonfiction, fabricated memoir, airline magazine getaway features, the Pet Channel Doggy Rescue Alert ticker, that fake half-page wrapped around the Times that’s supposed to look like it’s more news. Everything.

Then keep a journal of what moved you, along with the places you’ve been and the peoples and nations you’ve seduced into hapless fiery self-destruction. Put it in your own words, then add a highly charged sexual moment somewhere near the top to interest The New Yorker.

Boy, I hope Alice Munro isn’t here, I’d feel like such a phony.

But, seriously, um, be sure that taking your most deeply felt dreams and giving them life on the page is the best way to accomplish what you’re trying to do.

The Book Awards are a vital part of this city, which I love despite wishing no stone was left standing atop another and that maggots and nine-headed scorpion-horse things were feasting on the bloated dead. And they get better every year. 

So, thank you for this, and I also want to thank and damn to perdition all the judges. Now, where’s the bar?