1. Debbie Gibson or Tiffany?
This is the kind of question that really stresses me out. I have no idea. I will not google either of them to come up with anything clever.
I remember Tiffany as a redheaded squinty blur that covered “I think we’re alone now”. And I remember Debbie Gibson as Christina Applegate (is that the one from Married With Children?). I have no idea who is better. I am sorry.
2. Do you ever drink and draw?(..this is Comics Tavern) If not, are there any other vices(food/drink/drugs/sex/other) you partake in while making art??
I try to have sex while drawing. But it doesn’t work. My lines get too shaky also everyone gets covered in ink. But I’m still trying. I will never give up. I am also constantly high, on whatever is around. This helps my parenting skills. So to paint a picture of my studio life, I am trying, and failing to have sex and I am high on drugs in my studio in the basement while my child’s in the other room watching Mr. Rogers(which is a great show!).
Actually none of this is true. except for the part about Mr. Rogers being a good show. I love drinking, but not while I’m working. I pass out. My work is fueled coffee and NPR fumes.
I did make this comic about smoking pot once, but I actually made it when I was not stoned.
3. What was the last good movie you’ve seen?
Umm. Movie. I haven’t been able to stay up for an entire movie for five years. I just watch Eastbound and Down or Tim and Eric or Nathan for You.
4. You teach graphic storytelling/comics at the School of Visual Arts in New York. What is it like teaching, and helping your students with their art, versus working on your own stuff?
I love teaching! It’s an extremely humbling experience. I used to think it was just a day job but over the years I have grown to love it. My method of teaching is to give the student a safe, informal space to work and as much technical information as I can, and lots of deadlines. Then they teach me new computer stuff, they get the coolest new pens from Jetpens.com, and we all learn from each other.
When I’m drawing I try to clear my head of all that I teach. I almost always break rules that I teach, too.
5. Have you had any funny, or embarrassing moments being out in public at comics conventions/art shows/etc?
Yes! The most embarrassing moment so far, is when I was pregnant, at SPX Sweden, and the wonderful organizers took us out for Sushi. Everyone from the conference was there at the restaurant. Brett Warnock from Top Shelf remarked at how healthy and vibrant I looked as pregnant lady. But little did anyone know that I hadn’t taken a dump in four days. And at the Sushi restaurant, at the very end of the meal, suddenly I had to go. So I asked my friend to wait for me and find out where everyone else was going next. The restaurant was closing. I went to the bathroom and stayed there for…maybe an hour. It was like I was giving birth. So I walked out of the bathroom and EVERYONE FROM DINNER WAS STILL WAITING OUTSIDE FOR ME– ALMOST ALL MEN, SMILING AWKWARDLY AFTER I’D TAKEN THE BIGGEST DUMP OF MY LIFE!!!!!
6. I hear that you’re a big gardening nut. Can you enlighten us with any good gardening tips/stories? Do you also enjoy cooking, and if you do, what do you make? I’ve been watching a lot of shows like Top Chef, and The Chew, lately, and they will sometimes feature cooks who grow their own fruits, vegetables, spices, etc, so I was wondering.
I love gardening, it’s full of sex and death. My most gossipy garden story is that one of my columnar apple trees refused to pollinate the other flowering, sexed-out columnar apple tree. He grew tall and leafy and did not flower. I wondered how I could repair their relationship. But then another apple tree from the front of the house flowered and pollinated the sexy columnar tree, and now there are many baby apples on it!
I grow everything I can, and Tim and I cook like crazy. Last night I made a chimichurri sauce which was to die for. Cooking from the garden puts you on a higher plane of eating and food snobbery than normal people. There are layers of flavor on a freshly picked potato that I’ve never tasted before, Asparagus is sweet like candy and can be eaten raw! But it is also labor intensive, I spend hours making salads because I have to pick out all the bugs.
7. Any future plans for your band Flaming Fire, and if you could tour the world with one band/musician of your choice who would it be?
No plans for Flaming Fire. Been there done that. Not that I didn’t love the experience of playing with a group or the people involved. You know how you have that scary dream that you are naked in front of a lot of people? That was my life for ten years.
Touring with a band… Kate Bush when she was doing those crazy musicals?
8. Describe your worst dating experience.
My weirdest was in high school when I went out on a date with a guy with a monster truck. He drove up to my house while my parents were home and through his built-in PA. system said “Yo, Lawren, get down heeaahh.” (I grew up outside of Boston). Then he talked to me about how if I got good at airbrushing I could do his truck. And then we went to a community college he knew kids at, where everyone was drunk. I vividly remember a girl drunkenly sewing her moccasin back together and stabbing herself in the finger with the needle multiple times.
The only dating thing I regret was the time I slept with a guy because I was too lazy to commute home. All time low.
9. Your new webcomic Carriers chronicles the ordeal that you, and your husband went through when you learned that your unborn child was at risk for Cystic Fibrosis, a very serious, life-threatening disease that affects the lungs. I really enjoyed the way you graphically pieced together the story, bouncing around back, and forth between the medical/historical facts about the disease, and your emotional response to what was happening. I think your story has a real positive message about how to deal with a stressful situation that is out of our hands. Has this experience changed you in any profound ways? After all that you, and your family went through, are you more paranoid about future potential health scares, or less?
Releasing the story has changed me in profound ways. First of all, I feel like I’m getting the hang of telling a story in a scroll-down format: A very interesting technique because you can surprise the viewer, by positioning things as they scroll. Putting something so personal, for such a large amount of people on the web is dangerous. I’m really grateful for the nice response it’s getting, and all the CF patients who have come forward to tell there stories as well.
I want to say I’m less afraid of potential health scares, because the fear is pointless. All you can do is educate yourself to the best of your ability and move forward.
10. What else is on the slate for you the rest of 2014, and beyond?
Well, I have been slowly working on a “sequel” to Girl Stories, but this is a much more cohesive story about wanting to become an artist as a teenager, and figuring out if that was philosophically possible, in the midst of all sorts of family and social upheaval. It’s taken forever, in part because I’ve mostly been a stay-at-home-mom and haven’t had much time, but also because I didn’t know how to write it. But now I feel like I do, and my kid is going to kindergarten next year, so I won’t have to pay to work.
Thank you, Lauren!
Interview date: July 2014 – A. Yates