Paul Hoppe is a long-time Stranger contributor based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Born in Poland and Raised in Germany, his work spans from editorial illustration to children's books, storyboards, advertising, and even teaching comics at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. 

In our interview, we discuss his incredible body of work, his favorite vintage comic, and the way COVID dramatically impacted his life. 

You have a studio space in Brooklyn’s famed Pencil Factory, where you are surrounded by other artists in similar fields, is there camaraderie or even collaboration?

Unfortunately, I had to give up my eight-year studio that I shared with some fantastic other artists due to my health issues with Post-COVID Syndrome / Long COVID. But we are all still in touch, and sometimes it feels like having virtual studio mates! Then or now, we almost never collaborate, but there is a ton of camaraderie. There is encouragement, networking, and help when you’re stuck with a project!

How has the struggle with Long COVID impacted your work and life?

It has been a pretty dramatic change, and my situation is still evolving. Before, I was often working eight hours a day or more, six days a week. Now it’s more like… one hour? Maybe two hours on a good day? With crushing chronic fatigue and brain fog, amongst many other symptoms, I have to pace myself very much. Needless to say, it’s hard to accomplish anything, and trying to find medical answers has been an endless odyssey.

You've got quite a client roster and a number of awards under your belt. What accomplishment are you most proud of?

There are a few things I enjoy thinking back to. I illustrated New York Times Op-Eds by Barack Obama, John Grisham, and Paul Auster, amongst others. I’m also extremely happy with the two picture books I both wrote and illustrated, HAT and The Woods, and had so much fun with my children’s book adaptation of the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations”.

Winning Best Of Show from the Society of Illustrators of LA early in my career was a big honor, and when I had an exhibition at the German Consulate General in NY some years ago, showing work from my whole career at a big reception, that was pretty surreal!

One of Paul Hoppe's many mesmerizing cityscapes  // PAUL HOPPE

What's your current favorite vintage comic book?

Love this question! Currently, it’s the original Fantastic Four by Jack Kirby, with Stan Lee, from the 1960s, which I've been rediscovering during the pandemic. The energy and creativity leaps off the page! The artwork is inventive and quite stylized — it’s an amazing run with a singular, uncompromising vision. But it also laid the groundwork for all that Marvel craze these days.

Does being born in Poland and raised in Germany provide a unique perspective when doing commercial work in America?

My thinking, and my view of the world is definitely very influenced by that. I constantly compare different cultures, in general, and maybe feel not fully part of any of them. But I imagine my influences are a fairly unique mix, so I hope sometimes I bring something surprising to a project. Perhaps that’s why I have a bit of a range of styles. It’s also interesting to know the different markets.

You've got a lot of published work. What's the latest piece we should know about, or is there anything in the pipeline?

I have two very different picture books out right now. The poetic and elegant A is for Oboe, written by Lera Auerbach and Marilyn Nelson, presents the classic orchestra with all its beauty and fascination (Dial / Penguin Random House). How Did Humans Go Extinct, written by Johnny Marciano, is a funny and subversive look at human culture, told from a future time when we have long disappeared (Akashic Books).