Page 5 of 5
gg: OK, so you painted it without
aa: Um, yeah, I did the same thing
where, with the computer, I printed
it out on Bristol and painted in the
gouache. So then I had to actually
paint to the edges of each shape.
When I did the "Fisherman and the
Genie" story I actually had a piece
of tracing paper taped to the top,
and I would paint large areas. And
then I would go back with the tracing
paper and transfer the marks
onto the top of that paint over and
over again and I think that that was
more time consuming.
gg: Well the fact that you had 40
panels on a page was probably also
time-consuming. [Arp laughs.] I
was curious: on page three you have
these two panels that are scalloped.
And I couldn't quite figure out why.
From Typewriter 6
aa: OK, that's bad news that you
couldn't figure out why. It's supposed
to be the continuation of
her thought balloon. So those two
panels aren't actually happening.
gg: OK, well you can attribute that
to my own obtuseness, not your obfuscatory
aa: Well, we'll see.
gg: You must have an affinity for
these fables. As far as I can tell you've
virtually done no stories about
modern, contemporary existence.
[Laughs.] Why is that?
aa: Well, in my own work I always
try to keep it out of any specific
time. And even with those Japanese
stories that happen supposedly
at a particular time, I'm not
trying to be historically accurate
and I'm trying to keep it so that
it's... ideally there would be no
time at all that you could place it
in. I'm not sure why I have an aversion
to specific times and especially
representing contemporary action,
but I think it has to do with, well
maybe I'm afraid to get into that
because I don't think I would be
good at it. But I guess it just doesn't
appeal to me as much. And I try to
keep people, the things that they're
wearing to be really neutral and
unspecific. I guess a lot of the comics
that I read that I feel the most
affinity with are like that.
gg: Such as?
aa: Um, well, let's see, do you know
gg: I don't.
aa: He's one of my favorite comic
artists even though he hasn't done
that much. He was in the Last Gasp
anthology. And J. Bradley Johnson.
I really like his... but you know
they all have this sort of absurdist
kind of sensibility that I relate to.
gg: Are you comfortable with contemporary
life, expressing contemporary
attitudes? I mean some cartoonists...
aa: Like Seth?
gg: Yeah — Seth is a great example
— who have an aversion to modernity.
aa: Yeah, no I live in contemporary
life and I don't have a problem
with it. I mean I do have a problem
with a lot of things in mass culture
I guess. But not in... You know, I
don't dress like I'm from a certain
era, although my boyfriend would
probably say that I'm obsessed with
the '50s or '60s. [Laughter.] But
that's just aesthetics and it's not
like I'm a purist about anything.
There are people who do comics
and stories about contemporary
life that I really like a lot, but it's
not something that I feel drawn to
gg: [Laughter.] Let me skip back
and ask you some questions about
the Oki Islands story. This was based
on a story you read?
aa: Yeah, I read it in a couple of different
gg: Was it told differently in the different
aa: Yeah, yeah.
gg: How do you go about adapting
aa: I go through about three or
four drafts before I start the actual
pencils. And so the first stages are
really messy, and I try, like sometimes
I'll be reading the story and
one particular passage will inspire
me and then I'll just write, I'll draw
a couple boxes and write just that
section. And I tend to do a lot of
word balloons on a page with
gg: I haven't read the original story,
but it seems you must have taken a
lot of liberties because there's a very
modern spin to the dialogue, which I
assume is a very deliberate choice.
aa: Yeah, well, that's part of what
I was saying about trying to keep
it out of any specific time. I try to
mix in different languages from
different periods of time and hopefully
it's not going to come off as
something where it's like "Oh,
I'm making this funny by putting
modern dialogue in an old story,"
you know. I'm trying to be a little
more subtle than that. But yeah, I
guess I'm also concerned about not
keeping too close to any one version
of the story, because I don't
want to plagiarize.
gg: How do you see your comics and
cartooning evolving, where do you
see it going?
aa: Well, I definitely want to write
some more of my own stories;
there are a few that I've been working
on that aren't really going anywhere.
And I feel like part of why
I'm doing so many adaptations is
that I'm trying to learn from them.
And there's one, when I was doing
all the research for these stories,
there was one character in particular
from Japanese mythology that I
really wanted to do a story about.
But there's not really a story about
him that's tell-able. You know, he
just prances along or whatever, so
at some point I was like "Oh, well
I could make up my own story
about him," so that's something
that I would like to do. I'll see if
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