Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Q&A with ... gabrielle bell

long overdue, another Q&A with women in indie comics ...

while i discovered gabrielle bell a bit later in her published career, i'm catching up for lost time. my first read, lucky (picked up by drawn and quarterly in 2006), a group of semi-autobiographical stories, holds a cherished place now in my comics collection. cecil and jordan in new york is her newest collection and it packs a punch. i adored the imagery and adventure of "my affliction" and "helpless" brought back the BEST memories of scuffles with my high school friend. (images from "helpless")

a little wikipedia background on her published work ... "From about 1998 to 2002, Bell annually self-published a 32-page comic, each of whose titles began with "Book of...", including Book of Insomnia, Book of Sleep, Book of Black, Book of Lies, and Book of Ordinary Things. Many of the stories from those comics were collected in When I'm Old and Other Stories, published by Alternative Comics in 2003."

read on about gabrielle as she shares her likes, her life and her collaborative film venture with michel gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep and Be Kind Rewind):

1. care to comment on how the collaboration with michel gondry evolved?

He really liked my chair comic, and wanted to make some kind of film
or play with that. The producers approached him to do a thirty minute
segment for the film Tokyo!, and that was one of the ideas he
proposed, and they liked that one.

the on-set filming experience?

It was hectic. I’d never been to Japan before, and never been on a
film set. It was all very unfamiliar. It was a constant anxiety
attack. But I’m really glad to have done it. Michel pushed me into
places I’d never have gone by myself.

will this lead to more film-book adventures?

I am really into comics. I don’t want to do movies. Then again, I
could be tempted back, I’m sure. The glamour of it all is so

2. favorite films?
I recently saw Elaine May’s Mikey and Nicky, and really loved that.

books you are reading now?

Lydia Davis, Rabbit Series, John Updike, Alice Munro.

3. early influences? books, comics?

The Freak Brothers…Mad Magazine…Kurt Vonnegut.

4. so the autobiographical nature of your stories -- does that drive
most of your storytelling? how does the revealing nature of the
stories help you?

There is definitely a difference between my autobiographical stories
and my fictional ones. I take a different stance to each.
Autobiography is more like speaking directly to the audience, fiction
is more like playing a part, and not breaking the fourth wall. But I
always use my own life-at least in bits and pieces-because it’s all I
know for sure. Even if I use details of someone else’s life, I try to
draw on my own feelings. There are at least some people in the world
who can relate to me.

5. what prompted your move into self-publishing?

It was-and still might be-the thing to do for indy cartoonists
starting out. It’s easy and fun and cheap to make your own Xeroxed (or
laser printed) mini-comic, and give them out and sell them and trade

how did D & Q find you?

I’d been contributing to anthologies for years, so they’d seen my work
and asked me to contribute something to their showcase anthology.

7. city or country girl?

I grew up in the country and I really miss it but I’m a city girl. I
like good coffee shops and bookstores and bars and a feeling of an
endless choice of those things.

8. where else in the world you would live?

I’m pretty stuck on Brooklyn. I ask myself that question once in
awhile and can’t seem to come up with much. Maybe Tokyo…maybe
somewhere in the South of France…both to learn the languages. Maybe
there’s some place I’ve never been to that I would be totally happy
in, like somewhere in Mexico or in Hawaii or on some remote Island
where I could do my comics in peace, but maybe I’ll never find it.

9. how did your formal education prepare you for this extraordinary career?

Thanks, but my education was pretty informal. I took several classes,
but never finished school. I am not a good academic. I regret that,

10. your favorite snack food?

I like tarts, or little pies of any kind, sweet or savory…empanadas,
or dumplings, or pierogis, anything with some sort of filling with
some sort of crust or doughy shell of some kind. Even those little
hostess pies, or pop tarts.

thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, gabrielle! looking forward to your next creations!


Kid Radical said...

great stuff, La Francaise, though you posted it under my pseudonym. Watch out I might get fired. More on that later...but really interesting and I am halfway through Lucky and it is thoroughly enthralling.

I have to also say, I was stunned by the "chair" story. Just stunned. It comes out of nowhere and immediately it is comforting. I wish I could do it right now.

Dorothyhp said...

Great to see you're blogging again. Blogging definitely is all the rage!