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William S. Burroughs’ Unpublished Graphic Novel Coming in 2011

Beat author William S. Burroughs has a long-lost graphic novel called Ah Pook Is Here, and it will be published in 2011 by Fantagraphics Books. Burroughs, author of the Naked Lunch, teamed up with British cartoonist and painter Malcolm McNeill in 1970 to create The Unspeakable Mr. Hart for the British magazine Cyclops. When the magazine folded, the duo put together what they called a “Word/Image novel” (the term “graphic novel” had not yet been popularized) and shopped it to publishers. After seven years of trying to sell the new genre, Burroughs and McNeill gave up. Next year the work will finally see the light of day.

“It is singularly appropriate that after championing literate comics and the graphic novel form for over 30 years, Fantagraphics Books should bring a literary collaboration between one of America’s most distinctive writers and his exemplary hand-chosen artist to light,” said Gary Groth, Fantagraphics publisher.

The plot follows John Stanley Hart, a billionaire newspaper tycoon obsessed with achieving immortality. With the aid of recently rediscovered Mayan books, he attempts the impossible, and in the process invokes Ah Pook, the Mayan Death God. Up against Hart is a group of young mutants who travel through time to destroy Hart. Anyone who’s familiar with Burroughs’ imagery in Naked Lunch should be both frightened and excited for the release. Observed While Falling, a book by McNeill about his time with Burroughs, will also be published as a set with Ah Pook Is Here. Below, preview some images from the “Word/Image novel.”

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