Thursday, 14 October 2010

One Question Interview #9: Lucy Knisley

Today's One Question Interview guest is Lucy Knisley, writer/ artist of French Milk and all-around diarist extraordinaire. One of the most skilled autobiographical cartoonists of this generation, the success of Knisley's work lies in her oh-so-delicate, subtle balance of personal experience, narrative transference, and just enough humour to prevent everything from becoming overly maudlin. In short, she's great.

Recently making her latest comic, Salvaged Parts, available for purchase via her website (traditionally as well as digitally), we invited her to talk a little about it. Foreshadowed in her online strip Stop Paying Attention, the comic focuses on her recent split from her long-term boyfriend, and is perhaps the best example of her abilities as a storyteller and a cartoonist yet.

As a creator interested in self-chronicling, how much are you aware of the narrative of your life as it happens? Is it comforting or terrifying to know that other people view your life as a story?

"I don't think I would do this job if I didn't feel that the filter of narrative on my life wasn't comforting. I love the idea that writing an experience becomes a shared emotion with the reader. This age of "digital life-sharing" is evidence that I'm not alone in that feeling.

That said, it is occasionally a struggle to make the distinction between my self and my character. For example, I think people occasionally expect me to be more gregarious than I turn out to be when they meet me at conventions. I always feel like a big awkward doofus at those things. Maybe because I process a lot of my life through comics, it makes it harder for me to process on the fly...

I want to portray myself truthfully, and allow my flaws to show... But I also want to make comics about strong, self-confident women (and I'm not always one). I want to show my life accurately, but I want to make work that rings familiar for everyone (and I'm not everyone). It's a balance between how I live my life and how I write my comic, and I think I will always be teetering a little.

In the case of Salvaged Parts, which deals with my breakup (the climax of a "storyline" that had been building in my Stop Paying Attention comics), it was a double-sided coin; in part, it was horrific to be faced with the task of publicly sharing my heartbreak, handling the matter maturely, and even just forcing myself to be introspective enough to make comics in the midst of a breakup. On the other hand, it was lovely to have readers who were rooting for me through the whole mess. It really brought to light how my work could effect people, and how great that connection is. The actual making of the comic also forced me to organize my thoughts and emotions in a way that helped me to see my own life more clearly, which is the main reason behind why I make comics. Word and image as the digestive aid for thought and emotion."

A very sincere "thank you" goes to Lucy for graciously accepting our invitation at short notice. We love Salvaged Parts, and if you're not some kind of emotionless robot, we're willing to bet you might too. As previously stated, copies are available now over at her website. You probably don't need us to tell you how much of a damn-fine colourist she is to boot, but we will anyway. Also, if you're feeling generous, you can help heal her broken heart by aiding facilitation of a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Do it now, you miserable misers, you.

1 comment:

  1. I love Lucy's work! I downloaded Salvaged Parts, and it was both sad and funny, very heartwarming and real. This -- "Word and image as the digestive aid for thought and emotion." -- is a great way of describing the artistic process.