This month we tip our glasses(or should I say beer steins??) to the preposterously talented Leslie Stein! Spending part of her time culling creative material from her patrons, as she tends bar in New York City, and the rest of her time working on her art, Leslie has found the perfect recipe for creating some of the most experimental, and eye-dazzling comics I’ve ever seen!
Leslie Stein’s comic Eye of the Majestic Creature is a semi-fictional, semi-autobiographical series starring her cartoon alter-ego Larrybear & friends. Fantagraphics Books has published two collections, so far. You can read Leslie’s latest “Diary Comics” on her tumblr site, and she has a weekly installment you can follow on VICE.
Leslie has so graciously accepted my offer to endure my 10 Questions, so grab a stool, take a few sips from your purple sippy cup of scotch, and enjoy this enlightening interview!
1. Adam Sandler or Jim Carrey?
Sandler. I once had a nightmare that Carrey was chasing me in his Cable Guy outfit and he’s always freaked me out since.
2. Do you ever drink and draw? If not, any other vices(food/drink/drugs/other) you partake in while making art??
Sure. I work as a bartender so a lot of times I’ll come home from a shift after taking shots with customers all night and try to make something. Sometimes it turns out good. Mostly I’m sober of course, but I’ve had some success with some other drugs too. Sometimes I even paint with wine, it can make some beautiful purples.
3. Your Diary Comics on your tumblr site, and VICE have been a sort of revelation to me. I’m just amazed at how well your comics read, and pop off the page using very minimal line work with lots of expressive colors, and “animated” lettering. How did you come up with your unique style?
I think that style is a bunch of very different influences of mine combined… Everything from a more classic cartooning style (Doug Wright, Shultz), to outsider and religious art (Adolf Wofi, Eugene Von Bruchenheim, the Shakers) to children’s books (Mouk). I’m really attracted to bright colors, always have been… my line work changed this year, I was trying to loosen up a bit. I ended up loosening up a lot. That’s the quickest answer I can think of.
4. What was the last good movie you’ve seen?
I was just on a plane coming from Europe a few days ago so I watched a buncha stuff that just came out, or that I hadn’t seen. Maleficent, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Sex Tape, 21 Jump street. I liked 21 Jump Street the best.
5. Do you ever dream of yourself as your alter ego, Larrybear, or find yourself in an existential crisis over her? Feel free to call me a nut job for asking this question, but I’m just wondering, do you feel that Larrybear is more you, than the real you?
Not really. My existential crisis revolves around the idea that I’ve set up my life to revolve around making comics, and now my comics represent the life I’m leading so I can make comics. It’s weird.
6. How did you get into comics, and what other talents/passions do you have?
My mom read the comics in the Chicago Tribune aloud to me before I could read. I remember that as being one of my fondest childhood memories. I started drawing strips when I was really young. I play guitar and sing in a band too.
7. Describe your worst dating experience.
I once was dating a musician I met through opening for his band. I met him after work one day, he had been hanging out at a music festival. He was acting really strange… finally he said, “Here! I have something for you!” and it was a pot cookie. I didn’t feel like it so I put it in my pocket.
We went back to his practice space to play a bit and he got more and more quiet and then stopped responding to me all together, so I asked him if I should leave. He said yes.
So, on my walk home I got to thinking, was he just really, really high or does he just not like me? There was only one way to find out. So I ate the pot cookie and walked around until it kicked in, and then went to a bar where I knew a bunch of friends would be hanging out. “Hey! Leslie! How are you?” I could not speak… he liked me a lot!
So, actually this was a positive dating experience. I fooled you into reading that whole thing.
8. If Eye of the Majestic was adapted for film, who would you cast for Larrybear, Boris, Seashell, etc. and who would you choose to direct it?
A 1977 Robert Altman would be filming it as a pet project alongside 3 Women. Larrybear would be a young Gena Rowlands, Boris would be Eddie Munster, Seashell would be Daryl Hannah from Splash. The bird man would be an actual bird with a voiceover, or Viggo Mortensen from A History of Violence.
9. Have you had any funny, or embarrassing moments being out in public at comics conventions/art shows/etc?
Why you gotta be all up on embarrassing shit? I had a nice time at CAB this year tabling next to John Pham, we started talking and we we went pretty deep. At one point we looked up and a few people were standing there like, “Hey guys sorry to interrupt but can we buy your comics?” “Oh yeah, sure!”
Once I talked to Gilbert Hernandez and there were words coming out of my mouth, so that was pretty embarrassing.
Hearing about other people’s awkward moments is therapeutic to my fragile ego. Thanks! -AY
10. So, you have Eye of the Majestic Creature Vol. 1 & 2 published by Fantagraphics available, and I see that you have a mini comic called The Desk currently available from Oily Comics. What else should we look forward to the rest of this year, and in 2015?
I’m making comics for my tumblr all the time, and every Thursday I throw a comic up on VICE. Next June Fantagraphics is publishing a collection of the diary comics I’ve been putting on tumblr called “Bright-Eyed at Midnight”
*pictures borrowed from the internet…ty!