Swannanoa writer to read from his book


If a picture is equal to a thousand words, Jerald Pope’s latest graphic novel, “Fetch,” would have 45,000 things to say. As it stands, besides the title, there’s nary a peep from cover to cover.

Pope, an illustrator and writer based in Swannanoa, has created a scratchboard-illustrated book that is both a loving farewell to his dog and a parable of hope in the midst of change. Pope will do a reading from “Fetch” at Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe in Asheville on Saturday, April 2 at 3 p.m. The reading will be followed by questions and a book signing.

“From the beginning I knew this story didn’t need words,” Pope said. “Scratchboard lends a mythic atmosphere that made me want to reach for something more universal, not tied down with the tiny anchors of words.”

Scratchboard pictures are made by etching through a layer of black ink to a white clay base. Its crisp, black and white lines suggest etching or woodcut. Pope has added one color, a dusty red to some of the images in “Fetch.”

On the surface, “Fetch” is the simple story of an old man taking his old dog out to play one last time. It was motivated by the unexpected death of Pope’s dog, Rusty.

“I was really blind-sided,” Pope said. “I guess the grief that came with his passing was the flip side of how much I loved the little fellow. Like many artists, the way I deal with high emotion is to make art.”

The book has touched a sympathetic chord with people who have lost a beloved pet. It is also receiving an enthusiastic response from veterinarians around the country.

Pope lives in Swannanoa with his wife, some chickens and the shadow of a dog. His work includes the children’s picture books “Madeleine Claire and the Dinosaur” and “The Minute Elf,” a historical science fiction comedy about Black Mountain called “The Elvis Tooth,” the graphic novel, “Bouffant Flint and the Momentary Universe” and “An Early Appalachian Coloring Book.” He is working on “The Beacon Blanket Coloring Book.”

Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe is at 55 Haywood St., Asheville. Call 686-3922 for more information.