7 Miles a Second is a graphic memoir illustrating the story of David’s life from homeless teenage hustler on the streets of Manhattan to determined adult activist drawn towering above St. Patrick’s Cathedral at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
James Romberger’s illustrations, with Marguerite Van Cook’s watercolors, draw from David’s own visual themes and techniques to bring his candid text to life. Their posthumous collaboration with David fills pages with a phantasmagoria of his waking life and lucid dreams.
Romberger and Van Cook began collaborating with David on 7 Miles a Second in 1987, after they closed their Ground Zero Gallery, in the East Village. But the comic was finished in 1996—four years after David’s death—with the help of David’s partner, Tom Rauffenbart, who provided David’s diaries and other materials.
Rauffenbart recalls: “I forgot about the project completely. Then, one day, I got a call from a very agitated James. It seems that Marguerite had been working with a Tarot deck and claimed to have received a message through the cards that they were both sure was from David. I vividly remember James’s words as he related David’s words: ‘FINISH THE FUCKING COMIC!’”
Published by DC’s Vertigo Comics, in 1996, the graphic memoir was reissued in hardcover by Fantagraphics Books in 2012. A new 8.5” by 11” glossy paperback edition displaying the color at full intensity was released by Ground Zero Books in 2018.
Additional resources re: David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger, Marguerite Van Cook, 7 Miles a Second. New York: Ground Zero Books, 2013.