In search of autobiographical comics, I recently stumbled upon the work of Heather McAdams, a Chicago based cartoonist (filmmaker & artist as well) I adored in the late 90’s, but had forgotten about. Upon rediscovering her work, I immediately remembered what I loved–the folk art feel of her lines and the zany, sometimes dark humor. So much of the autobiographical work I read (and make) these days takes itself SO SERIOUSLY, I forgot how there was a strain of autobiographical comics in the 80’s and 90’s that could be dark and yet have a delightful artistic wackiness. Her drawing style makes me remember the thrift stores I went to as a kid, filled with country LPs and wood paneling on the walls.
Trying to find more of her work has been a bit of a sleuthing project, as she has no current internet presence at all, except for some breadcrumbs here and there from 2013 and back. She used to make a country calendar every year and (I think) has gone on to make An Everything But Country Calendar–though where you would buy this, I haven’t a clue. (Heather, if you are reading this–please set up a shop somewhere on line–I would buy your wares!) I ordered her fantastic (out of print) book Cartoon Girl and have been learning a lot from it. Why she is not more known or appreciated is beyond me. I may have to go to Chicago and track her down. I’ve been having fantasies of going out to breakfast or thrift store shopping with her so we can draw together. You never know. It could happen, right?
This week’s comic is up on Medium and it’s about my deep love of the post office and the simple and yet powerful gesture of a postcard.
Two years ago today I started making comics. Well, sort of. I guess two years ago today I started making what lead to the comics I make today. I sat in my living room scanning the internet as one does when one is feeling aimless and disconnected when I happened upon this article by Gary Panter on keeping a sketchbook.
For the last few months I’ve been thinking A LOT about music as a memory trigger. My mom was a stagehand and rigger for nearly 40 years. My stepdad collected records and remains one of the most musical curious people I know. My father is a musician and singer-songwriter. You could say that music was not a thing in the atmosphere of my childhood, but it WAS the atmosphere. That being said, I have found that music can be a powerful memory trigger for almost anyone in the way that scent can be. I’ve fantasized about putting together an anthology of one to two page comics on the memories of songs. I feel like I see a lot of comics about the artists who write and perform songs, but not about the personal ties to songs, which tend to be common and yet powerful.
I’m in the process of preparing to teach an autobiographical comics class at The Garrison Art Center next month and thinking about how I can get the class to enter easily into memories and story telling. Making a list of songs might be a good place to start.