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art of the interview

The Art of the Interview: Frederic Tuten


John Haskell: : The thing about that was, you were almost destined to write Tintin. But hadn’t you already written…

Frederic Tuten: My first book was The Adventures of Mao on the Long March. Roy Lichtenstein did the cover for me. Roy was really the reason it got published because no one wanted to take it. Nobody, nobody, would take the book. They all said, “This is not a novel.” Time and again, rejections would say: “This is not a novel, why are you sending me this?” And finally I said, “OK, I’ll publish it myself.” I don’t know where I got the idea to go to Gibraltar and print it there. And I asked Roy if he would make the book jacket for me. I left him the manuscript and after a few days he phoned and said he would do it. I don’t know why I even had the nerve to ask him. And then this small publisher said, “Well, if Roy Lichtenstein will do a special edition with a lithograph we’ll publish a trade edition,” and Roy agreed. I’ll show it to you one day. An image of young Mao Zedong with a kind of cloud bursting behind him. It’s very beautiful. That was two years before Andy Warhol made his first Mao.

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