Gabrielle Bell and her uncomfortable, cathartic process of making auto-biographical comics

Gabrielle Bell makes comics mainly about her life, and she doesn’t pick the most flattering or positive anecdotes. 

“Sometimes I’ve done some comics where I’m like, ‘this is going to totally make everyone appalled at me and just disgusted,’” Bell said. “And then it turned out people loved it and felt seen and recognized, and it brought people and myself together, and that’s encouraged me to explore it even more.” 

Bell has found success in illustrating comics about embarrassing or unpleasant moments of her life, combining honesty with anthropomorphic animals and other silly bits of fantasy to keep things light.  Continue reading

Max Clotfelter and his journey becoming a respected, talented cartoonist

As an adolescent, Max Clotfelter would make crude, extreme and offensive comics that alarmed the adults around him. 

“I had a hard time making friends at school, so making these filthy, transgressive comics was a cheap way to get attention,” Clotfelter said in an interview with Sequential Stories

As he grew older, he stopped making dark and weird comics that were crude and offended for the sake of offending, but he didn’t stop making dark and weird comics. 

Today, Clotfelter dips in autobiographical, dystopian and psychedelic storytelling styles to create his cool, funny and bizarre comics.

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Keiler Roberts and her autobiographical comic series ‘Powdered Milk’

Keiler Roberts doesn’t like to keep secrets. 

“To me, if I have a personal secret, like when I was pregnant… for a while, it’s a secret, and nobody knows, but there’s this huge thing about you that you can’t stop thinking about,” Roberts said. “Everything feels like that to me. It just destroys me not to tell people.” 

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Through the medium of comics, Roberts tells funny, melancholy autobiographical stories about her life, exploring her relationship with her family, mental illness and a lot more. 

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Fred Noland, a serious moonlighter

In his comic Working Stiff, Fred Noland exhaustively outlines all of the jobs he’s had, from a Taco Bell gig as a teenager to doing design work for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District. Throughout much of his life, he’s done comics alongside other work. 

“I think I once would have just described myself as a cartoonist, but the way I look at it now is I see myself as a visual storyteller,” Noland said. “And as I’ve gotten to broaden my palate work-wise and actually had more opportunities, I’ve seen there’s ways to apply what I learned in editorial and what I’ve learned doing comics and these other venues.” 

Noland, who has an eclectic bibliography of comics that encompasses fiction, autobiography as well as historical biography, continues to make comics alongside other meaningful visual storytelling work. 

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