This interview was transcribed from the Read Brave: Comics podcast. Hear the full audio version here: http://graphocast.com/?p=619
Read Brave: Do you want to start out by telling us a little about Coady in the Creepies?
Liz Prince: Sure. Coady and the Creepies is the first creator-owned comic series, like month by month comic issue that you can go into your store and buy, that I've ever done. It's about a touring teenage punk band made up of triplet sisters and it has a supernatural twist to it. They were involved in a van accident about a year before the comic takes place which left Corey, the b assist and lead singer, with a scar across your face, kind of Harry Potter esque. She gets really mad when people make Harry Potter references at her. Chris is paralyzed from the waist down, plays guitar in a wheelchair and Cody is the drummer and unbeknownst to her sisters, actually died in the van accident so she is a ghost.
RB (Cory): I saw that Amanda Kirk, who is also known as Nation of Amanda, is doing the artwork for the comic book. Do you contribute any art or is it mainly just her?
LP: Amanda and I are doing the subscription incentive cover variants together, so I'm drawing those and she is water coloring them. I don't know if you're familiar with her work that she's done with Mitch Clem? She normally watercolors or ink washes his stuff, so she's been doing the colors on those comics, but that's the only artwork that I have contributed to this series.
RB (Cory): Have you worked with her before on any collaborations?
LP: Nothing more in-depth than like, I think we drew a razorcake comic together when I was visiting her and Mitch, and she penciled herself in and Mitch penciled himself in and then I inked all of them. So it kind of looked more fluid, but i think i can we have we've ever worked on a comic project together.
RB (Cory): So I think that we're most familiar with your work through your personal zines, your comic zines, what got you into making comic zines?
LP: Well, I always knew that I wanted to do something that involved cartoons in some way and when I discovered comics in third grade, it was like cartoons & books which are my two favorite things like melded together. And I've pretty much solely focused on making comics since then. But it wasn't until I was in high school and I discovered more indie comics and auto-bio stuff like Evan Dorkin's Dork and Ariel Schrag's high school comic series, Awkward and Definition, Potential and Likewise came out much later on but that counts, that I really kind of saw the power of drawing comics about my own life. So that's kind of where the turning point was, before that I was doing like a lot of newspaper gag strip kind of work. Like I had a ripoff of Milk and Cheese called Scott the Angry Paper Cup who'd beat up people who eat fast food, because I was like a little militant vegetarian and I had this comic called Batrat that was like Batman but he was a rat. So I kind of worked my way up to doing my own ideas that were a little less derivative.
RB (Cory): Are there any comic zines that you feel are underrated or should be more well known than they are?
LP: Most of the stuff I read falls under that category. I've always been someone who has enjoyed people's self-published work and sought that out more regularly than comics that are traditionally published on the mainstream comic circuit. It's funny because when I was growing up and going to conventions and meeting people, I always found it way more important to buy the little photocopied stapled think that they put together rather than they're fancy published book and I've seen that people have migrated towards only wanting the fancy graphic novel version of things. I've actually had people come up to my table at conventions and i'll have my self-published work and they'll be like "oh yeah, I only want the Top Shelf one." and I'm like okay, well you can buy that anywhere. That's fine, I want them to read whatever book of mine they want. But I enjoy the diary comics of a woman named to Carrie McNinch. She has been doing a self-published daily diary comic for years and years called You Don't Get There From Here, I think she's on issue forty-something. Sam Spina, who currently works on Regular Show does some diary comic books that I'm really into. I guess if I had a choice I would pretty much almost exclusively read people's auto-bio stuff, I have a real soft spot for it, even if it's just kind of the rudimentary like: "Today I woke up, went to work, came home and watch TV." That's like a typical Ben Snakepit comic now. There's just something about it that invites you in.
RB (Cory): So on the subject of diary comics, we're all Patreon supporters [of yours] and we've really enjoyed your monthly diary comics. Has doing that over the last year changed the way that you make comics or the way that you think about making comics?
LP: Well, that was a project that I started because I was experiencing some really pretty severe writers block after finishing Tomboy, which was my first actual "graphic novel." It was the first thing that I'd ever written that was like 250 pages and one cohesive story. That was a process that took about nine months from starting to write it, to finishing it, which is actually an extremely short amount of time for writing and drawing a graphic novel. So I felt pretty burned out, but it was also like second I was done with it that people were like: "What are you doing next?" I was like, wow, this book isn't even out yet and I have to know what I'm doing next! I think I got kind of paralyzed by the idea of what the follow-up to that book would be. After close to a year of not really feeling all that inspired to work on personal comics, I decided to go back to the basics, which was just draw[ing] a comic about what happens every day and hopefully people will be interested in it. It was also a way for me to get back into self-publishing which is something that I hadn't done for a very long time. So getting to write and draw those comics and then also design a little book and the covers for each one, that really kickstarted my comics creativity again. That's actually one of the reasons why I changed the focus of my Patreon this year, was because I found that I was spending all of my personal creative time working on those diary comics and not actually exploring deeper stories. So that was where the idea to switch it up and focus on this longer narrative that will be released in chapters came from.
RB (Scout): They're my favorite part of every month, getting those. Cory and I read through the last year's of them last night to jog our memories and I was telling him that, I don't know why because they're about you but they make me feel so good about myself. They're very self affirming in a way and I said I think the biggest lesson I've taken away is that it's okay to nap. I'm sure that's not your intention but it was like, I shouldn't feel bad about needing a nap every once in a while.
LP: I think that's the power of autobiographical comics, it doesn't necessarily have to be a big grand exciting story, people can find comfort in just like the little things, like: "Oh yeah that's right I can take a break or maybe nothing good happen today but there's always tomorrow."
RB (Vinton): I downloaded and read your latest one on Patreon while I was setting up to record and I was getting all emotional. It was a bit more emotional than I was expecting to deal with this morning!
LP: Yeah, that story, I thought that it would only be an issue or two but I think that in the course of writing that first installment, I really realized that it's a much deeper story. So I think I'm just going to kind of write it in a stream of consciousness sort of way and see where it ends up. It will be interesting to see what my siblings think of it. I did show to my mom before I put it up on Patreon just to be like, hey I don't know if this is going to make you feel weird. We had a pretty interesting conversation about that but I think that it will hopefully open up a lot of lines of communication. For people that are confused about what we're talking about, this story that I'm focusing on for my Patreon right now is about my relationship with my father who passed away five years ago. It is not an uplifting story, at least it's not yet, it might be, I don't know.
RB (Scout): I think it's therapeutic for other people in similar situations to read and I think it really says something for you to put that much of yourself out there. I’m not sure that that's something I could do with my own family issues so that's pretty brave.
LP: Well, it takes time sitting with it.
RB (Vinton): To me that creates an even more beautiful story. Growing up and still being intrenched with superhero comics and that type of thing, it just sugarcoats what life really is and then when you go and you read a more personal comic like that, it shows you that there's beauty in the world even the pain and in the complications and you can relate a lot more.
RB (Cory): Does putting your personal life out there in comic form make you feel more vulnerable and self-conscious or is it more therapeutic and make you feel more self-assured to write it out?
LP: I don't know if I really feel like either end of the spectrum. Because a lot of times people are like wow you share so much about yourself and I don't know that I could ever do that and to meet doesn't feel like a big deal. Obviously I know that I'm sharing personal things but they don't feel like guarded secrets and I there’s definitely stuff that I haven't written about and probably never will write about but I think that I see more of an intrinsic value in telling those types of stories and I think that one of the things that I've always tried to be really conscious of when writing about my own life is to not try to make myself come out better in a situation than I initially might have. I don't want to paint myself in this picture that's like I'm so great, look at these great things I did. I try to be like, well that was douchey and I acted douchey in return, maybe I’m just douchey. The therapeutic aspect of it is interesting because I don't go into these situations being like I need to write this story because i'm going to feel better and sometimes then hit me way more emotionally than I thought they would, like writing some parts of Tomboy and I was really like, wow, I guess I'm still really hurt by that even though I haven't thought about it in twenty years, So it's just an interesting process. Sometimes I don't know how much something has affected me or still affects me until I'm writing about it. But the therapeutic aspects are just kind of like a nice afterthought.
RB (Cory): So to lighten the mood, we've read in your monthly comics that you are a member of the National Women's Pinball League, so if you were to create a pinball machine that doesn’t currently exists what would the theme of that pinball machine be?
LP: I actually have drawn out plans for a pinball machine in a zine called Drop Target that Alec Longstreth and John Chad put out (http://droptargetzine.blogspot.com). They did seven issues and each issue they have a different cartoonist create what they call their dream machine, a pinball machine that doesn't exist. For all the issues, since there's seven issues he did a machine based off of all seven Harry Potter books. My favorite pinball machines are always the horror related ones, like Tales from the Crypt, Monster Bash, Elvira, Addams Family. So i thought it'd be really great if there was a pinball machine based off of Troll 2. Some of the elements that I added in it was like in Medieval Madness, when you get the trolls to pop up but it would be you know goblins instead. I think it would be really funny if there were a Troll 2 pinball machine.
RB (Cory): What horror movie do you feel like every horror fan should see?
LP: I'm a really crappy horror fan, I like alot of the like way cheesier movies. I am a really big fan of the Final Destination franchise and I think that illustrates my point. But I just really enjoy the Rube Goldbergian deaths that happened in those movies and I especially like that it doesn't really waste much time just getting into the carnage. I don't know if I would really recommend those to everybody though. I'm actually not that up on my horror history, like I actually hadn't seen any of the Nightmare on Elm Street films until a couple years ago. My husband and I watched through all the Friday the 13th films and I was like, wow, the first one is really kind of the only good one huh? So, I don't know if I'm a good person to ask about that. I guess like legitimately good well-respected horror films, I really think that Suspiria is way up there because, visually and the mood and all the parts of it kind of fit together. So I think that if people haven't seen that, they should check it out and if they want to see some really cheesy shit, watch Final Destination one through five or whatever it is.
RB (Scout): In last year's April comic that you sent out, you talked about Trailer Blaze and I was interested to hear a little bit more about that, being a woman who's interested in comics, I was interested to hear what happened there and what that was like.
LP: So Trailer Blaze is an all women's comic residency that is put on by the women who run the Short-Run comics festival in Seattle. It takes place at this like multi-purpose lodge in southern Washington on the coast. They have refurbished like old sixties RVs that you can stay in and there are cabins and then there's actually just like a lodge that has rooms that people can stay in also. They're doing it for the thirdtime this year I think. Basically what you do is you come and you have your own project and you talk about what your goals for the project are and most people just work on their own for most of the day and then there's group dinners where we talk about what we accomplished during the day and then there are studio visits where everyone comes to your room or your trailer or whatever and then you show them what you've been working on and talk about it and get feedback. It's really great, there's a lot of people who work in very different ways. There was a woman who was doing this cut paper kind of comics and artwork, there was someone who had brought, a really old like Macintosh printer that had the paper that has the holes on the sides and they were taking photos and then putting it through that and it had the carbonpaper on it also so it was making these different prints. So just a lot of very different ways of making art, making narratives set int his very funky and folky lodge setting. There's also a tourist attraction museum with taxidermied animals that have like two heads and stuff and like Nickelodeon machines where you put the coin in and you get to see the little short movie of people just running around. It also has Jake the alligator man, which is a like an alligator merman that's taxidermied, he's great.
RB (Cory): What work are you most proud of?
LP: Probably Tomboy because of the scope of that book and I really did say a lot of what I wanted to convey about gender and my own personal experiences with that job. Also it's also the latest quote-unquote book that I've done, so I guess I feel closest to it. But I have been having al ot more fun than I expected to working on Coady and the Creepies. Not that I expected not to have fun, but I was really viewing it more as like, oh I don't really do fiction so it'll probably be really hard, but it's actually been really cool to be able to use real places and we're trying to use real venues. It's a four issue mini-series right now and I'm hoping that it does well enough that we can continue making more of a story out of it. I would like to have actual bands involved, like have them be characters in the comics. Basically I want to introduce younger readers to the idea of DIY punk and I want to use real people in real places that are accessible, so hopefully someone can be like "Oh, well I've never heard of this, but I live in Kansas City and I can go find this venue!"
RB (Scout): So what would your wish list of bands to be involved look like?
LP: I have personal relationships with several of the people that I would like to be involved. I would like to have Lauren Denitzio from Measure [sa] and Worriors be involved because I think that she has a lot of really interesting things to say about the punk scene and touring in the punk scene. The comic riffs off of the idea in the new Ghostbusters movie that the bad guy was really just one of those m'lady fedora, bro-dudes, just kinda like "nobody likes me because I'm a white man." It kind of plays off of that idea in punk where so many people, so many dudes in punk are like: "why does everyone have to come in here and be so PC, punk is punk and if you don't like it, you're a baby!" It kind of tries to dismantle that argument a little bit. So I would like to have people and bands involved in the book that make strides to like combat that idea that to be involved in punk you just need to have a real thick skin. In the first four issues I don't know how deep I can really go into that, but I'm hoping that given more space, I can explore that theme more.
RB (Vinton): Having grown up in the punk scene that is a fantastic idea to me. I love that.
LP: Sometimes [I wonder] how valid of the statement is that anymore? There's so many people who understand that there's a real need for diversity and other people's experiences but I just moved to Portland, Maine and there's a Facebook group that's for punks and for some reason last week some guy on the board posted one of those Facebook polls [asking] "Does punk have aproblem with misogyny?" and the answers were like: yes or like it's a problem with our culture or no and it started this long argument where basically guys were [saying]: "There's no problem punk is super inclusive!" and women were [saying]: "No, I don't feel that way." and the [guys would reply] like: "Well that's because you're a baby, shut up!" I love the idea that the person who's had this experience is telling you about it and you're saying, "no, that's not the experience that you're having." I read that and was like, I guess that's still a thing, ok cool.
RB (Cory): That's unfortunate, but it's good that you have goals to combat that.
LP: Yeah, but I also want to have fun talking about stuff I like too.
RB (Vinton): Having a lot of friends from the punk scene back in the day that I don't talk to but we're still friends online in different places, I can say that's totally still a problem, it hasn't changed much.
LP: It's unfortunate. That makes the book sound way more serious than it is. It's also a very light-hearted, fun book.
RB (Vinton): That's the best, when you can talk about serious issues and still have fun in the book. Speaking of music, do you have a band or an artist that would make a good soundtrack to your comics in general? Not necessarily [Coady and the Creepies] but your your stuff in general?
LP: I actually have a collection of the comics that I have been writing for Razorcake magazine for the last several years coming out. It's actually going to debut at Emerald City Comicon which is just next week but it won't be out for the book market until July [or so]. I was going back to that and I was like oh they're like literally comics in here that are like my mixtape! Songs that I liked back then. I think The Ergs! is always a band that will have a place not just in my heart, but also like I feel like the way those songs are written make it a perfect soundtrack for my comics. As far as a book like Coady and the Creepies is concerned, we actually wrote and recorded a song as the band in the book that will be coming out in conjunction with the first issue, in the middle of March. My friend Danny Bailey from the band Jabber wrote the song, then we had some friends of ours play on it and it's really cool, I'm excited for people to hear it.
RB (Scout): So you've written comics for Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Clarance. Were you big fans of those comics before you started writing him or was it like they approached you and you got familiar with them, how did that work?
LP: Adventure Time is something that I had always wanted to work on and I was really stoked to be asked to write and draw a short story for the Marceline and the Scream Queens mini-series because it has to do with music and punk. Getting to write that story about Lemongrab being in a punk band was just kinda like yeah man! This is cool! And it's kinda funny because that concept became kind of cannon within the comic series, it has been referenced in other people's stories, like they have shown up in the background. Which is like, oh cool, this idea that I came up with kinda has some legs. Especially writing the Clarence series, I really liked the show and it seems like a lot of people hadn't really either heard of it or watched it. So getting to write stories for something like that, I was like, Oh cool, I've been watching this since it cameout and I didn't have to like go back and do like a whole bunch of research about it. The Regular Show thing, my husband is a huge fan of Regular Show. I like Regular Show but he's way more into it than I am. So that was kind of like, we both came up with story ideas for that and so he kinda worked on that in tandem with me.
RB (Scout): You saying that about Clarence is funny because when we discovered Clarence, we have three kids and we were watching it with them and I think that we became Clarence evangelist. Everyone we ran into we were like: "oh my god, have you watched Clarance because you need to be watching!"
RB (Cory): I felt like it was a better than anything else that was on TV. Not even just like children's shows but just across the board. It was just such a funny show.
RB (Scout): And it was pretty progressive, I mean I know Cartoon Network is more progressive than a lot of things but I feel like they still kind of walk that line sometimes.
LP: Definitely. It was fun because Brian Gorsegner from Night Birds is a huge Clarence fan. So I posted online that I was writing those comics and he wrote to me like: "Oh my god, that is so cool! My daughter and I, we love Clarence! that's crazy!" and then I gave him some copies of the book in exchange for getting me on the guest list at one of their shows and he was like: "So like, are you like super famous now?!" And I was like, no, I think you're the only person who's ever been excited about it. So that was kind of a funny experience.
RB (Scout): Those four issues make me laugh out loud everytime
RB (Cory): Do you have anything that you want to add or you wanna promote?
LP: BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK! I mean really I just am hoping that people will pick up Coady and the Creepies and give it a try. I was really stoked to be able to give Amanda Kirk a vehicle for getting a wider audience for her comics and actually that was one of the main reasons why I even pursued creating this serious. Like I think if they told me that Amanda couldn't be the artist, I'd probably be like all right well, peace! And I think it came out great, Hannah fisher who colored it, did an amazing job. I don't have an eye for color, so when we got the first couple of pages back, lettered and colored... like the color pallette for it is like bright pinks and yellows and greens and some colors that you wouldn't necessarily expect, like buildings in the background are pink. I was like "Wow, that's so awesome!" But I never would've thought of that. It's been a cool experience to get to see what other people are doing with this concept.
RB (Cory): Where can people find you online?
LP: My website is LizPrincePower.com It has nothing to do with white power and my last name is not Prince-Power, which I actually get a lot. It actually came from when I was younger, my younger brother and I used to call our family's grayy station wagon "Power of Graycar" after "Power of Grayskull" off of He-Man and so I always had this idea that, yeah, power, it's such a cool thing. Prince Power! Whee! And I'm a little bit regretting that. But at this point, it's been so many years, it's just gonna stick. So, LizPrincePower.com it has links to all my social medias where you can follow me and look at pictures of my cats and I make announcements about my books that are coming out and whatc onventions I'm going to be at and xyz on there.
RB: Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to interview you and talking with us today!
LP: Yeah, no problem, it was great.
Go support Liz Prince on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/lizprince
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