Getting Consent When Creating Autobio Comics

I went to a writing conference with a friend of mine. He was trying to get his comics into the publication that was hosting the event (I would recommend checking them out, their short fiction pieces are very good, but their comics and poetry are iffy). There were artist talks and panels discussing writing fiction, memoir, and poetry.

The only panel I remember going to was one about how to write memoirs. I vaguely remember that all the books were on really serious topics like grief and drug abuse. The only thing I distinctly remember was the Q & A. Everyone was asking about their process, or how to get over feeling exposed when writing about themselves. I had finished my mini thesis for the Center For Cartoon Studies a few months prior (the last assignment of the first year of the program: take all the things you learned from the first year and make a 16 page zine) about being bullied and then turning into a bully myself. It had a lot of people from my past in it, but no one I particularly cared about in the present. But I had a question because I had a feeling I’d be making more autobio comics in the future-

“How do other people react when reading your work that mentions them? How do you take that into account when writing?”

The panelists answer was essentially:

1) You never know how people are going to react. There’s things you think that are going to offend people mentioned in your work but turn out to be no big deal and things that seem totally innocuous turn out to be big problems.

 2) You need to make sacrifices and at the end of the day your art is more important than these people.

The first point was something that I didn’t internalize and would come back to bite me in the ass. And the second point was, and still is, in my opinion, absolute bullshit. Sure, if I piss off someone I don’t like and I show them being shitty, who cares? But I wasn’t willing to lose friends or cause grief with family over my dumb comics. I had other stories I could tell (I’m lucky because I can pretty much tell anyone anything about my mother, she’s an over sharer too and is very supportive of my work).

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But man, I wish I had taken the first point more seriously. I did a comic about a crazy (and traumatic) night I had with my friend’s dog while pet sitting and put it on Twitter. My friend totally freaked out. I took it down immediately and apologized, but it was too late. Our friendship wouldn’t recover. When I tell other people this anecdote they all say my friend is crazy and over reacting, but he had his reasons that totally make sense and I just wasn’t thinking.

Losing that friendship was devastating, but it taught me a crucial and powerful lesson- I fucking ask for permission before putting someone into my goddamned comic. I don’t even mean just for heavy shit, I mean for everything. Literally every gag post I put on social media is run by the people that are in it, unless their lines are “HA HA HA” or they are merely there to set up a punch line and are saying something like, “What do you mean?” or “What’s going on?” or “Hey, how are you?” (see the above comic as an example of me not asking anyone pictured for explicit consent, though maybe I should have). Almost everything else is run by people that show up in my comics. They get veto power to stop me from showing a comic they’re in to the world. Especially since I often change my conversations with people to better fit the narrative of my work.

I am VERY glad I do this because I have fucked up and done comics that expose things people don’t want the public to know or I’ve accidentally made them look like an asshole. But it’s not a big deal because they just say, “No, don’t post this” or “Fix this part” and it’s just between us. Asking for permission is a really easy thing to do that stops a lot of future drama.

My art isn’t worth upsetting the people that I love. This isn’t true for everyone: if I don’t like or care about you, I don’t give a shit about making you look bad. That’s not very kind of me but it’s true. I’m not really a kind person anyway, I just prioritize the people in my life I care about. You could argue that this is actually me being selfish, because I’m the one that cares about maintaining healthy relationships.

I have always been at odds with hipster artists as a whole (especially in my fine art days). Sure, the fact that many of them are pretentious and clique-y and obsessed with status (which I am too more than I want to admit)  etc. irritates me. But the underlying reason is that I fundamentally disagree that art is more important than people, and that is something a lot of artists buy into (or their art is more important than themselves; the suffering artist trope is BEYOND damaging and just plain stupid). If I had to give up making comics in order to keep the people I care about in my life, I would in a second. I’m lucky enough though that pretty much everyone in my life that I care about supports my comics. And because I keep their feelings in mind when writing stuff, I will probably never have to make a choice between the two.

I Have Started A Patreon

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Hello!

So I am nervous as hell to announce this but I have started a Patreon. Patreon is a website where people can pay artists to make new art and support their work. I am using this as a subscription service for people to get my zines which will help pay for the cost of printing them up front. Every time I make a zine, depending on what tier you sign up for, you get a digital and/or physical copy of my work. This is a nerve wracking step for me. It’s one thing for people to like my stuff on social media, it’s another thing to ask people to support me financially. But I’m broke, so I need help funding future projects so I can keep making comics, which is literally my favorite thing to do.

Please consider supporting it if you can. Thank you! 

Leaning Into My Jewishness (I thought I'd Never See the Day)

I have  complicated feelings about being Jewish. I was raised Jewish, though my father was a WASP. I went to whatever the Jewish equivalent of Sunday school is and HATED IT. It was, in my opinion, a waste of time. I still believe that for the most part. I then went to an all Jewish middle school. Like everyone else, I hated middle school. Unlike everyone else, because of my very Jewish surroundings I started turning the hatred I had for my life and into a hatred for all things Jewish.

I have never believed in God (even though I wish I did, I think having faith would be comforting), so I describe myself as a cultural Jew. I’m not religious, but American Jewish culture is a fundamental part of who I am. There are things that make me feel connected to my people (I’m pushy, Jewish foods, the fact cartooning has a lot of Jewish roots) and then there are things that make feel like a total stranger in my community (the way we try to use the Holocaust as an excuse for the horrendous shit we do in Israel to Palestinians, or the outrage that Captain America being turned into a Hydra Agent is a form of anti-Semitism which is such a dumb fucking argument to have but that’s a rant for another day).

So I read the following comic and had really mixed feelings.

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 Comic by Lily Hoyda from their  Tumblr  for the  Cartoon Punk Zine.

Comic by Lily Hoyda from their Tumblr for the Cartoon Punk Zine.



I remember getting into a conversation with a buddy of mine (who is also Jewish) about how pre Trump, Jews feeling oppressed as a minority in this country seemed ridiculous. The only anti-Semitism I had only really experienced were from “progressives” that conflated me along with all other Jews with Israel’s anti-Palestinian policies, but I have fundamentally the same belief system as progressives so I could shut down that shit REALLY quick (“Hey dude, I am a Jew who disagrees with a lot Israel’s policies, just like an I’m an American that is critical of our government policies. What’s that? YOU’RE ALSO AN AMERICAN THAT DISAGREES WITH A BUNCH OF THINGS OUR GOVERNMENT DOES AND WOULD LIKE TO NOT BE JUDGED AS A PERSON BASED ON THOSE ACTIONS??? WOAH, WHAT AN IDEA! DO YOU SEE ANYT PARRALEL IN OUR SITUATIONS???”). But overall, me and my friend both agreed, pre the 2016 Presidential race, being a Jew that was claiming to be oppressed in this country seemed stupid.

Now I read that comic and agree with it’s message. But part of me is still like, “Oh my God what whiny social justice warrior shit is this?” (side note, I am a progressive but am not or will ever be a social justice warrior and I will explain that to you if you ask in person because my negative feelings about them are guaranteed to be misconstrued if I put them on the internet).

When I notice myself feeling this way, I have to ask myself, “How bad do things need to get before you start taking this shit a little more seriously?”

I have really started leaning into my Jewish identity lately. My boyfriend is from the Midwest, and knew almost nothing about Judaism before meeting me, so it’s been really fun teaching him about my culture. If I can acknowledge the good things about being Jewish, I need to start acknowledging the struggles that we as a people are up against too.

I Got My Dirty Diamonds Copies!

The anthology I am a part of, Dirty Diamonds Volume 9: Beingraised over $17,000 and debuted at SPX in September. I picked up my copies at the convention along with extra copies of Dirty Diamonds Volume 6: Beauty and will be selling them both at future cons. I am VERY excited about this! It was a hard fought campaign but it was an exceptionally well run.

 Dirty Diamonds books plus pencils of my current project.

Dirty Diamonds books plus pencils of my current project.

If you can’t see me at a con, consider buying copies online here. And if you want a peek at what is in these books, check out my submission to Dirty Diamonds Volume 6 here, which I did in collaboration with my bestie Stephanie Zuppo.

I am in the Newest Issue of Magic Bullet

Hello!

I am in the new issue of Magic Bullet (Issue 17), a free comics newspaper put out by the Washington DC based comic organization The DC Conspiracy. I first learned about this group when I was invited to be part of the not too high not too low gallery exhibition, which also featured one of the heads of Andrew Cohen, one of the heads of DC Conspiracy.

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My contribution for this comic was about the first (and only) time I tried meditation. It’s something that therapists have told me to try for years, and I’m sure it would be very helpful, but I found it to be insanely stressful. Hopefully I can find the discipline to make it a habit.

 99% of my comics are done in a very tight three-tier grid. Since this comic was done in such a large format (it’s a newspaper, so 11”x17” also known as “tabloid”) I played with my layout a little. I can think of only 4 other instances where that has happened (three Everything’s Fine pages and one assignment for the Center For Cartoon Studies that I want to redraw at some point and put out as a zine).

Magic Bullet is distributed by it’s contributors, so it’s hard to say where you can pick one up. So far I have given them out to Creative Labs in Baltimore and Words & Pictures in Burlington, Vermont. I’m planning to distribute them in a few more places in Baltimore and
DC, so keep a look out.

I Represented Delaware in Oni Press' Draw Out The Vote Campaign

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Hello! I want to get the word out about a cool project I am a part of. 52 cartoonists (one for each state plus a cartoonist representing DC and one representing Puerto Rico) have each done comics about voting in their state. Some have done them about political activism, some have done them about their experiences with voting, and some have done them about their state’s upcoming elections. I did a comic about calling my representatives while living in DE. The best part of this is that when you select your state you get to read a cool comic and get all the info you need on how to register to vote. 

I know things are hard right now, and the system seems broken, but changing it from within and being active participants in our government is the most effective way we can get through this administration. Please share this, register to vote if you haven’t, and DEF vote in November (plus any primaries of your party before hand. Let’s get as many progressive members in power as possible)!

Here is the website.

Here is my comic specifically.

ALSO SPEAKING OF POLITICAL COMICS- I’m working on a sequel to Safe (my Trump response comic from when he was first elected). Look how much my art has improved since January 2017!

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VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE!!!!

I Will Be Part Of An Artist Talk This Weekend and A Recap Of My Latest Sketchbook. (NSFW)

I have been part of a gallery exhibition of cartoonists at the Tectonic Space in Baltimore MD. So far I have participated in the gallery show as well as the drink and draw and the convention associated with it. This Saturday, August 25th there will be an artist talk with some of the people in the show from 5pm-7pm. It will be the last event I participate in at the Tectonic Space. If you are local to the Baltimore area I hope you stop by to hear the discussion.

I finished a sketchbook for my friend Christine Entienne back in May, but only was able to paint the cover for it this in July. Below are some of my favorite pages from the book. I feel like my sketchbooks are declining in terms of art quality and I'm doing a lot more planning and writing in them. They are just as useful, but not nearly as much fun to give away. I will be posting the newest sketchbook I gave my boyfriend some point soon; I finished that one in July.

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 I have an entire narrative backstory for the girl in the center: She's a freshman going to her first high school party so she gets all dressed up but feels like a total outcast. So she sits outside on the curb defeated waiting for her ride and ends up making friends with some kids outside at the parking lot.

I have an entire narrative backstory for the girl in the center: She's a freshman going to her first high school party so she gets all dressed up but feels like a total outcast. So she sits outside on the curb defeated waiting for her ride and ends up making friends with some kids outside at the parking lot.

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 STRESSED OUT

STRESSED OUT

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I hope to see some of you on Saturday!

Upcoming Show and New Products In My Shop

Hello! 

This is super late notice but tomorrow, August 18th I am part of the BMore Into Comic's convention Issue 19. The event is from 12-6pm at the Tectonic Space. Both of those links will give you more details about the convention. I will be selling my comics as well as participating in a panel Pushing Past Creative Blocks. Also, I will be part of an artist talk next Saturday, August 25th at the same location from 5pm-7pm. You can find out more about that here.

I will be selling my comics as well as debuting my new 16 page full color zine Moments. This series was originally part of the not too high not too low gallery show I participated in at the Pyramid Atlantic back in April. Moments is comprised of a series of four panel silent comics showing moments of intimacy. It was inspired by my first romantic relationship where I really became intimate with someone for the first time. 

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This zine is available for sale in my store for $6.00 plus shipping. I have taken three of the pieces and turned them into prints. You can buy them for $10.00 a piece or all three for $25.00. 

My store is here.

You can also get the pdf version for pay as you on my Gumroad.

If you like my work please consider supporting it by buying something from my store.