Donald Juengling has been immersed in comic book culture for most of his life. He started working in a comic book shop when he was in junior high. Today he manages Memphis Comics & Collectables and was the driving force behind the successful launch of the Memphis Comics Expo earlier this year. This week he's hosting a different kind of signing event, showcasing a slate of area artists who collaborated on the Juengling-penned graphic novel Bethany's Song, a multigenerational fairy tale about love, loss, talking trees, heroic woodland creatures, greedy despots, and duplicitous crows.
Juengling started working on the self-published title Bethany's Song four years ago when he heard himself complaining about comics a little too much.
"I love superhero comics, but the medium is capable of so much more," he says. "I told myself so many times, 'Oh, I can do better than that; I can do better than a lot of this.' At some point I heard myself saying that and had to call my bluff." Inspired by comic book contrarian Warren Ellis to be the change he wanted to see in illustrated storytelling, he enlisted the aid of area artists and sent out copies of the text. Slowly, pages starting coming back, bringing Juengling's fantasy to life from different visual points of view.
On Saturday, comic book fans can meet the author and have books signed by artists Anthony Max, Jean Holmgren, and Adam Shaw.
In addition to making and selling comics, Juengling has been busy planning round two of the Memphis Comic Expo. The event that focuses on bringing fans and comic creators together returns in June.
"We've got some even bigger names coming in this year," he says, although he's not quite ready to make an announcement.