Apr 23, 2009

Required reading

I won't call it an influences list, because I'm not important enough to have influences. But here's some of my favorite comic artists who deserve a shout-out, since I've stolen so many of their ideas:

1. Can't talk about lesbian comic artists without talking about
Alison Bechdel. I've been reading Dykes to Watch Out For since I was a baby dyke just learning to smuggle the local gay weekly home from the library. And I collected all her books--the originals, not the reprints--which took a while because she has so many. I admire her slavish attention to detail in drawing, and the way she manages to write stories that are both topical and universal. I also like that she's made even her earliest drawings available to readers. It shows how much her craft has developed over the years (and gives us mere mortals some hope). I'd love to meet her one day, but I'd settle for being friends on Facebook.

Jennifer Camper is dirty, and I mean that as a compliment. Her strips are full of unabashed, gleeful filth, which is something I aspire to but can never pull off. She is also the editor of both Juicy Mother anthologies, which prove that she not only has talent but taste and connections as well.

Carol Lay's Story Minute is a smorgasbord of striking high-contrast art and quirky character design. But the format itself was the biggest revelation for me. I'd long felt constrained by the "panel-panel-punchline" method of comic making, and intimidated by the "endless soap opera" format. Enter Story Minute, one-page stories with a snappy ending and only a few recurring characters. You can read them in any order, but they're so damn addictive you just want to sit down and finish the book. Why don't more people do it this way?

Ellen Forney does exquisite line work, and writes such instructional gems as "How to Be a Fabulous Fag Hag" and "How D'ya Smoke Pot and Stay Out of Jail?" But my favorite is her book Lust: Kinky Online Personal Ads, in which she illustrates some of the sex-seeking personals in the back of the Seattle Stranger. I've heard she occasionally gives workshops in Seattle--guess I better start saving my pennies.


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