The creation of Carver: A Paris Story was the apex of many experiences for Chris Hunt. His first title, published in 2016, led to a series of opportunities with AMC, Filson, and Z2 comics. The artist resides in his hometown of Westerville, Ohio. He spent his early life in the Midwest, and later moved to New York City for a time. Creating comic books is a full-circle return to his roots, to the child who dreams of telling his own stories. Our conversation has an unexpected cycle, covering the topic of time again and again. How we use our time, the way that it quickens when you are out of your twenties. Most important is the eternal age that people feel. This stage in life is unique to each person and a place where pivotal experiences are layered like film negatives, never obscuring the core self. Hunt places himself at the age of nine, devouring comics and selections of his grandfather’s numerous history books. The only difference is that he has seen and experienced much more of the world.
Carver: A Paris Story (Z2 Comics)
Growing up, Hunt had an intense interest in storytelling and worked diligently on his illustrations, but his path to becoming a comic book artist would be unique. Degree programs in comics were non-existent in the early 2000s and art school couldn’t provide the experience that he was looking for. Raised with a pragmatic mindset, he made the decision to take a step back from the art form and pursue business instead. At the age of twenty-one he became one of the most successful managers at Starbucks on a regional level.
While Hunt found success, without comics he says, “I was heartbroken. It was like being estranged from somebody that I loved.” In 2006, his childhood comic book hero, Paul Pope, would release Batman: Year 100 (DC Comics). Hunt recalls going to Barnes and Noble and opening the volume that “reignited the flame” to create comics. It was an emotional awakening that led Hunt outside of his comfort zone to fulfill his dream. He sent Paul Pope a message on his Flickr profile, an online gallery and image sharing website, and quickly received a reply. Pope suggested that he draw with a brush and ink and stated that he would be disappointed with the first 1000 drawings or so. In search of a creative breakthrough on the other side of 1000, Hunt proceeded to draw diligently. On his own Flickr profile, he posted and numbered each illustration, and Pope left constructive criticism in the comments. The two would eventually meet and Pope directed him toward opportunities where he would learn the craft. They remain friends to this day.
After making the decision to follow the path that had been haunting him, Hunt says, “Something shook loose in my own perception of self and the world around me. Suddenly, everything became an opportunity. It was an opportunity to learn. It was an opportunity to research. I bent my existence toward learning the craft of comics.” This one decision would take him into a new, more fulfilling direction.
Filson Adventures (Filson 1897)
Before creating Carver: A Paris Story, Hunt spent many years learning about The City of Love. He remembers being a young kid who was fascinated by the baroque and historic qualities of Paris. He read the works of Ernest Hemingway, who lived abroad in the city for several years. At that age he knew that he didn’t comprehend all aspects of the characters’ experiences. He developed a “curiosity of context” which drove him to research. An intense interest in the Lost Generation of prominent American authors, best known for works in the 1920s, would open him up to music and more works of literature. Upon arriving in Paris in his mid-twenties Hunt was disappointed that it lacked the visual romance he had been dreaming of for so long.
It was in this city that he spent three weeks with an ambiguous love from Idaho, culminating in an adventurous night fueled by a bottle of Four Roses. After exploring the city, they found their way to Notre Dame Island, legs dangling over the waters of the Siene as they finished the bottle. The following day would begin to bring clarity for them both. “We knew that our relationship couldn’t top that [experience],” he says. “Suddenly, I started to understand Hemingway. I started to see that this was the subtext that I could never figure out. It’s kind of inherently sad because it’s all this thing that happens, and then it’s just over.”
The concept for the character Carver began as a sketch in Paris. This developed into a bittersweet, romantic comic. In the following months the true heart of the story would be solidified. Hunt tragically lost two of his best friends, one to a terminal diagnosis and the other to a train accident, experiences that changed him. He would pour himself into creating Carver: A Paris Story with new layers of loss and reflection. Creating Carver was an intense process, and on the heels of its publication he wasn’t sure that he had another story inside of him.
Eden: A Skillet Graphic Novel (Z2 Comics)
Hunt returned to Filson 1897, an outdoor apparel retail chain, where he had worked in the past. He didn’t anticipate that readers would bring copies of Carver to the store and ask for his signature. He also didn’t expect to receive the 2016 Comic Book of the Year award from IGN Corporation, a world-leader in entertainment media. It wasn’t long before his work caught the attention of Filson, which turned into their Filson Adventures web comic.
Hunt worked with Filson to tell the story of their brand in a graphic novel format and is currently commissioned for other creative projects with the company. In the weekly comic strip on Filson’s Instagram account, the old-world quality of the brand is a focal point. This was a challenge to articulate and translate into the world of comics. Of the salt-of-the-earth survivalist archetype he says, “It exists still, but it’s a part of this history. You can actually go out and engage the narrative in almost the exact same way that you did one hundred years ago.” These qualities of the Filson brand met the vibe of comics, which in the artist’s mind is something more like jazz – a fluctuating piece of music with a steady bass at its core. He cites his appreciation for character development and steadily slow-burning narratives as initial influences, but further collaboration would lead to more action-packed chapters.
Hunt is currently working on the second installment of the Carver story and has more projects on the horizon that he can’t reveal just yet. He states that in his downtime he is reading international comic books and seeking an elusive documentary about the comic book legend Hugo Pratt. Learn more about Chris Hunt and his work at thechrishunt.com