Stories from the Treehouse

An interview (sort of) with local author Christopher Cobb.

So how many of you have ever thought about writing a book about our little corner of the universe here is the San Gabriel foothills? I know I have. But how many of you have thought that you would write a post-apocalyptic, neo-modern noir series of illustrated storybooks where Sierra Madre is the last bastion of greenery and civilization before everything turns to nuclear annihilated dust just east of Huntington and Second in Arcadia?

Nope, that would just be author Christopher Cobb.

His first short book, “Van Wyck and the Pirates of the Outland Empire”, begins by introducing this new world order, a terror driven police state of sorts, vastly changed after the bombs started going off right around City of Hope. His main character, Van Wyck, a private detective, coordinates his adventures from the deck of his treehouse in Sierra Madre, “southern California’s angel wings at the tip of destruction.”

From there he travels around the southland uncovering the mysterious forces threatening further death and destruction. The second book, “Van Wyck and the Surf Monks of Santa Monica,” includes stops at the Kodak Theater, the Hollywood Wax Museum and Santa Monica Pier. It is Raymond Chandler meets Mad Max, and now I’m hooked. I’m waiting for the next installment to find out who Fat Wing is working for and what the symbol on the dead assassin’s hand means.

I first met Chris when he was still living in that treehouse that appears in the second illustration in the first book. And a couple of nights ago we ate and drank along with his editor, Mary Williams, down at Casa Del Rey and I tried to conduct a proper interview. I tried to get him to tell me about his writing process, about what it is like trying to make it as an author while still paying the bills, what he would like to see in an arts community like ours.

But, the charismatic entertainer that he is swerved around every question and instead we ended up creating a pretty compelling analogy in which life in Sierra Madre is a lot like life in the Shire, the land where the hobbits live in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. We cast the characters with ourselves and our mutual friends whom I will save the embarrassment of naming. But the point was that life here is pretty good, and why mess with a good thing. If you want adventure and danger, it is right outside the borders.

We talked books and movies and good bourbon. He told me about the graphic novel he is working on and the traditional novel he is writing. The next Van Wyck story will be released soon through Ink Pen Mutations, a Culver City-based small press that published the first two installments. You can buy all his books at their site. And then the restaurant staff started piling chairs on tables and looking at us with tired frustration. Because after all, it was 9:30 on a Wednesday night in the Shire. Time to go home and to bed.

Link to Original Article


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