Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Q & A with comic book creator Liz Prince

Liz Prince is an alternative comic book artist and writer of such books as I Swallowed the Key to My HeartDelayed ReplaysAlone Forever, and helped co-write So, This Is What It’s Come To… a comiczine about the trials and tribulations of Ok Cupid. She won an Ignatzaward for Outstanding Debut in 2005 for her Top Shelf published book Will You Still Love Me if I Wet the Bed? She lives in Boston, MA and adores cats.

You can find out more about Liz Prince at her web-site

El Paisano:What is your artistic and educational background?

Liz Prince: I have always drawn comics and cartoon characters: in Elementary school other kids used to hire me to draw Disney characters that they could put up in their cubbies, by Junior High I was drawing newspaper style comic gag strips, and at the end of High School I published my first mini comic, which was a collection of the auto-bio comics that I had drawn about my friends and I growing up in Santa Fe, NM.  I used that mini comic as a portfolio when applying to art schools, and was accepted and attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  I graduated in 2007, after focusing on mainly illustration and printmaking.

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EP: What comics did you read when you were younger? Did you start off with the usual super hero comics or did you start reading independent style comics (comix) early on?

LP: My introductions to comic books were Disney comics like Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge (the ducks were my favorite).  The first issue of Jeff Smith’s Bone was reprinted as 3 parts in Disney Adventures magazine, and when I saw it I became obsessed with it.  Reading Bone led me to finding other indie comics, because it was shelved in the alternative section, since it was self-published.  Seeing Evan Dorkin’s auto bio work in Dork, and Ariel Schrag’s High School chronicles Awkward, Definition, and Potential are what cemented my interested in drawing comics about myself.

EP: What artists and writers do you look up to?

LP: That list is constantly changing and evolving; the all-time comic heroes are Jeffrey Brown, Ariel Schrag, Evan Dorkin, and Jeff Smith, but more currently I’ve been more inspired by my being able to see my friends work: Maris Wicks, Alec Longstreth, Ramsey Beyer. They are all inspiring me with their work ethic.

EP: A lot of your comic books are auto-biographical, do you feel that your comics are therapeutic at all?

LP: Definitely: drawing a comic about something is my own personal way of working it out emotionally.  Of course, a good amount of my comics are funny and light-hearted, but even those ones can have an element of darker roots.

EP: What do you do when starting work on a new book? Do you keep a journal to remind yourself of certain situations, or do you just remember back to certain times and think that they’ll make an interesting story to write?

LP: Once something happens I will know right away if I want to draw a comic about it, because I pretty much instantly envision it in comic form.  For the longer story I’m working on (I Swallowed the Key To My Heart), I’m having to connect those moments with some narrative elements that didn’t jump out at me, and it’s a challenge to try to keep those parts lively.

EP: What type of music do you listen to while you’re working on your comics?

LP: Mostly pop-punk and power pop.  I still have a soft spot for mid-90’s emo.

EP: What are some of the struggles with working in the independent comic scene?

LP: I love self-publishing. I love the freedom it gives me in terms of both format and content, but distributing books for myself is very time consuming.  I don’t do as much consignment in comic shops as I should, because it’s something that you need to be very organized about, and check up on frequently.  As someone who could probably be considered a “web cartoonist” (although I still maintain that everything I draw is for print, eventually), there are proprietary issues with things like tumblr.  I very often come across comics I’ve drawn being shared without credit, or a link back to my website.  I’m not as upset by that as some of my colleagues: I like that my comics are shared, but it can be a little disheartening when I see comments like “who drew this?” or “I wish this person had books I could buy”.

EP: What has the reaction been from your friends and family after your work started to get published? Are you finally a comic book big shot to them?

LP: I don’t know that I would call myself a “comic book big shot”; my family has always been very supportive of my art, my mom is definitely my biggest fan.  Friends will sometimes get in touch with me after years of not talking, to say that they saw my books somewhere, or someone else mentioned my comics to them off-handedly, so I’m sure that makes me look far more impressive than I actually am.

EP: A lot of your books deal with relationships, has it become easier to share this portion of your life with your readers? Or do you think you’ll hold back every now and then when writing?

LP: Everyone has things that they keep to themselves, and I’m certainly no different, I just have a higher threshold for what I’ll share.

EP: What can we expect from you in 2012?

LP: So far I have already published Alone Forever 2 (the 2nd collection of my webcomic Alone Forever), and I am planning to have I Swallowed the Key To My Heart #3 done for the MoCCA fest in April; hopefully issue 4 will also come out later this year.  I have drawn album covers for the bands Parasite Diet, Not Yet!, and Masked Intruder, all of which should be out early this year.  And I’m working on submissions to several comic anthologies.

EP: Finally, who would win in a fight between Morrissey and Henry Rollins? Give the reasons for your answer.

LP: I believe that Morrissey would win in this fight, not because he himself could best Rollins, but because he has such legions of huge, tough guy fans who go to his shows and cry for the only times in their lives, who would definitely defend his honor.  Rollins certainly has his fair share of fans too, but the devotion that Morrissey fans have is borderline cult worship.

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