Page 4 of 7
gg: And try out different voices so
that you could find your true voice, which I think you're doing now.
kw: It may have been that, or it may
have just been purging [laughs], all
this wise-ass energy, and all these...
In all honesty, I look back at it, I still
laugh at it, it was some of my earlier
efforts to be a little more serious
that are really cringe-inducing.
I think what makes them so tough
to look at now is, not only are they
bad, but how good I thought they
were for about 10 minutes. [Groth
laughs.] You know what I'm saying?
You think back, like, when I
was in middle school, if you were
14 years old in 1984, you had some
parachute pants. That's all there is
to it. And if you had some parachute
pants, you thought they were
pretty fucking cool. Then you look
back a few years later [laughs], and
it's not only embarrassing that you
wore these things, but you just remember
how cool you felt in them.
And I remember drawing some of
this stuff when I first started moving
away from humor [and thinking],
"Wow, I'm really doing something
good here." Then you look
back and it's just so heavy-handed
and it's that much more embarrassing.
From Where Hats Go
gg: Where Hats Go seems to be your
first really major piece of work. I
don't know if you'd agree with that.
kw: Oh, most certainly. The last
couple issues of No-Fie were, I believe,
self-contained stories, wordless.
And I started doing wordless
comics almost as an exercise. I'd realized
that the comics that I did for
the most part were, as I described
earlier, "clever, talking heads yelling things." I described it at one
point as a verbal Punch and Judy,
just back and forth talking heads,
there was no story, there wasn't
any meaning to it at all, and I really
didn't know how to cartoon. I knew
how to draw some pictures, I knew
how to write things, but the things
I'd do weren't necessary in comics
form, they could have been some
clever rant in a 'zine or something,
there was really no reason for them
to be comics. So I really wanted to
work on visual narrative, telling a
story, so I just dropped all words.
And I hate lettering, too, that was
also a part of it.
gg: [Laughs.] Well, it solved that
kw: Oh yeah. And I'm still terrible
at lettering [laughs]. But yeah, the
last couple issues of No-Fie, I had
these stories. I was really happy
with them, and actually I really
started to dislike the drawings at
that point. I looked at work I liked
and I wanted to be at least [sighs],
I wanted to look professional, you
spend so much time thinking, "Oh,
I want to make it, I want to make
it, why aren't I making it," but then
one day you look at your work and
you're like, shit, you're not ready. I
remember at one point, I said to
my wife, "You know, if someone
asked to publish me right now, I'd
say no, because I'm not ready." And
she said, "Oh yeah, you're right,
you're not." And I said, "Oh, fuck,"
I really wasn't expecting that level
of honesty to be dropped on me.
But yeah, we were both absolutely
I started doing these wordless things
and really started to work on drawing.
I really liked the direction I was
going and when you kind of teach
yourself another language, I think
it inspires you to create a different
kind of work. It inspires different
kinds of stories. If you suddenly
pick up a banjo when you've been
playing a sousaphone, you're going
to start writing a different kind of
music. I think I learned a new aspect
of the language, all these stories
started coming to mind. When
I first started doing Where Hats Go,
it was going to be a 40-page story.
It was going to be a minicomic, and
Jordan Crane called me and asked
me what I was working on. I'd met
him a year or so before. I sent him
some pages that I was working
on, the first 10 pages. I'd told him
about the story previously. That's
when he asked me if he could use it
in Non. I said, "Well OK, it's going
to end up, I think, being 20, 25 pages,"
and I think it ended up being
a 150-something pages. And the 10
pages I'd showed him, we ended
up cutting out of the book anyway.
[Laughter.] What interested him
initially, never actually made it into
From Low Jinx #2
And I was still in this pretty heavy
learning curve, hell, I still am, but
you learn a lot when you double
your output, your page-count output
in one book. You're going to
learn a lot in that time, so I actually
had to go back to the beginning
and redraw tons of pages. Also,
foolishly enough, I started using a
brush halfway through the book,
of course, so I had to dumb it down
a lot. I was like, "Wow, this brush
could do these amazing things that
I could never do before."