Mark V: The Opera

Mark V
The Opera
Derek Lamson
John Williams
Brandon Buerkle
Barclay Press


A story of pioneers and family, racism and white privilege, the contemporary epidemics of houselessness and addiction, and the changing roles of religion and skepticism. It's a Eugene, Oregon, story with sushi, cussing, a smidgen of LSD, and of course, the Roving Park Players. It is the story of the making of an opera.

Derek Lamson, John Williams, and Brandon Buerkle take a new and completely contemporary look at the story of the Gadarene Demoniac, found in the Gospel of Mark, in this fast-paced, Oregon-based re-telling from the perspective of the unnamed man chained to a tomb. Any American witnessing the national epidemic of houselessness, drug abuse, and mental illness will recognize that this story is our story.

"A wild, surreal romp through time and space that perfectly utilizes the magic of comics. Masterfully done." -Jonathan Hill, creator of Odessa, and Tales of a Seventh Grade Lizard Boy

"The lavish and electric illustrations in this volume by John Williams bridge multiple worlds and geographies to create a truly stunning effect. The artwork is alive with humor, emotion, and grace." -Brian Doak, PhD, co-host of the "Weird Religion" podcast

Derek Lamson is a child of the Pacific Northwest, and has lived all his life on Native land. As a boy, he cowboyed out in the desert, as a young man he logged and did commercial fishing. He worked in TV advertising in his thirties on the Oregon Coast and then Portland; started and crashed an ad business; and worked retail for Fred Meyer for eight years. In 2012, Derek went back to school to finish his BA, and went on to earn a Masters in Ed and teaching license. Throughout his life, Derek has written, shared, and published poems, stories, and songs. In 1990 he became a Quaker follower of Jesus; subsequently he has written, performed and recorded four albums of original progressive christian gospel, folk, and blues. A Month of Sundays, a collaborative anthology of his new and uncollected work, began monthly releases June 2022, with plans to drop songs up to June 2023: music collection number five. In 2017, Derek edited and collected his younger poetry into a book called His Modest Debut: Poems 1970s and 1980s and released it through Amazon. That same year (and also Amazon) he published his young adult novella King David and the Desert Harp. Back in Eugene since 2018, Derek is currently staying busy with his (large) Eugene family; his day job as a substitute teacher in Lane County; worship and activism; and always music and writing.

John Williams is an artist, illustrator and teacher that grew up in Eugene, Oregon. He studied painting and printmaking at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduating he transitioned to Illustration, and specifically cartooning—his first artistic passion. He now lives and works in Newberg, Oregon with his teen son, and cat Yoda, with plans to move to Portland with his partner, Alicia. He teaches cartooning, drawing, and painting to tweens and teens at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg, Oregon. John has self-published several comic zines, and done commercial work for Bogs Footwear, Caravan Coffee, and Weird Religion podcast. Mark V: The Opera is his first graphic novel.

Brandon Buerkle is a graphic and type designer who's lived in Newberg, Oregon, on the ancestral land of the Kalapuya, for over 20 years. During that time he studied fine art and graphic design in undergrad, and worked in the printing industry for a number of years before starting a family and doing freelance graphic design. He continually works on their house with wife, Korie, and tries to raise two middleschoolers in the beloved Quaker tradition. Books and book design are a continual favorite, but mostly Brandon loves designing fonts. The most recent are a revival variable typeface for Google called Science Gothic, and the fonts for the lettering of this book.


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