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
Vali Chandrasekaran has made a name for himself as a writer on popular comedy television shows like 30 Rock and Modern Family. He’s wanted to write a comic for much of his life partly because of the intense freedom comic book creators have compared to other mediums.
“You just put your comic out into the world. It’s just what you want to make,” Chandrasekaran said. “You don’t need to convince other people… to raise the money to shoot a $500,000 or million dollar independent movie. I like how when you go to a comic store how weird it is.”
With France-based artist Jun-Pierre Shiozawa, Chandrasekaran decided to self-publish a comic called Genius Animals?, a comedy about a woman who gets wrapped up in a massive, genius-animals-related conspiracy after her boyfriend mysteriously disappears.
About eight years ago, Australian cartoonist Pat Grant started writing his graphic novel The Grot. He started the comic primarily channeling a fascination in con-artistry, but ended up finding himself interested in so many more aspects of the comic and its story.
“As it happens when you’re telling stories, you become interested in it on its own terms and each of the individual characters on their own terms and it becomes something very human,” Grant said. “If you’re doing your job right.”
The Grot, released in the United States by published Top Shelf Productions in June this year, is a 200-page graphic novel about two brothers navigating a world of con-artists in a dystopia brought about by a plague. Continue reading
Chris Gooch loves the thick spine on his upcoming, nearly 600 page graphic novel Under-Earth.
“That was a fantasy,” Gooch said. “I wanted to have a book that if you threw it at somebody and you hit them with it, it would really hurt.”
This upcoming book, slated for release in October, marks the third book published by Top Shelf Productions from Gooch, an Australia-based indie cartoonist who has done a wide variety of both short and long form comics that run the gamut on style, format and subject matter. Continue reading
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.
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.”
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.
Allison Conway studied illustration in college. Her college offered illustration and comics classes in the same building, and she didn’t decide to try a comics class until her final semester.
“I just kind of had this moment where I was like: ‘What am I doing? I’m about to graduate, and I didn’t even try comics,’” Conway said.
With the help of that class, she came up with the pitch for The Lab, her haunting, wordless debut graphic novel about exploitation, which was released this year and published by Top Shelf Productions.
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.