by Marinn Silva.
Originally published in The Quarterly Purge.
First I wanted to thank you for making Shutterbug
Follies, as well as a few of your other cartoons, free to
the public at www.beecomix.com.
my pleasure. It's actually good business too, from what I've been
told, as it increases the strip's visibility. Give it away for
free, then make 'em pay for it later, when it's a book.
Bee is supremely likable. She's a normal
girl, but she's also got these great qualities: courage, diplomacy,
insatiable curiosity, intelligence, confidence. She goes for what
she wants and is, at the same time, not oppressive. Is her personality
modeled after anyone in particular, or after a certain ideal,
or. . ?
after a certain ideal. She was inspired by the girls who populate
the hipster district in Williamsburgh, Brooklyn. The hair and
the glasses are very Williamsburgh, at the moment. And at the
same time she espouses the same values I have, but if I was female
and considerably more brave.
Bee isn't an over-sexualized caricature
of femininity, but she's definitely cute and stylish. Was drawing
her that way a conscious decision, or just what came naturally
to you? What did you want her overall look to convey about her?
I wanted to give her some feminine aspects, but also some androgynous
aspects. I want to convey femaleness but without resorting to
exaggerated eyelashes and red lipstick. She's not a makeup-wearer.
She's a practical dresser, but her clothes are not un-sexy.
How's Bee's serialization going?
Swell. I've actually finished Shutterbug Follies and am
in the process of doing final revisions, touch ups, that sort
of thing. Though, I'm anxious to put more energy into soliciting
more weeklies, so "Bee" can be in print in more papers.
So Shutterbug Follies is just the first
Bee installment, right -- you've got more plans for her?
a whole series of books. Installment isn't really the right word,
that makes it sound like it's a never-ending story. Each book
will stand alone independently of the others, but with the same
You mentioned in another interview that
you've fantasized about "Bee" as an animated cartoon.
(You can bet I'd watch it.) Does that remain a fantasy for you?
yeah, nothing's happening with that yet. My agent has mentioned
that she's looking into shopping the book around to movie people,
but largely for live-action. I'm more interested in feature animation,
maybe with me writing a new script for a movie, one not based
on a book.
By the way, I was thrilled to see the chubby
goth girl in Safety Instructions. I guess I don't have a question
to go with that. Just wanted to gush for a minute.
I borrowed her appearance from an old girlfriend.
Your dialog has a pleasantly natural flow.
Is that something you strive for or is it just innate ability?
guess you could say that I "strive for striving for good
dialogue", in that I've only recently started thinking about
dialogue style. Right now, I imagine, the characters mostly just
talk like me. I've seen a couple of great old movies that have
incredibly stylized dialogue, like Sweet Smell of Success
and Preston Sturges's The Lady Eve. I need to figure out
how to bring style to dialogue without making it sound phony,
On your web site, you have advice for cartoonists
struggling to explain the scope of their work. You give two examples,
each, you say, equally worthy: " the comic as a template
for the next wave of expressionism and the comic as a vehicle
to make the reader laugh until he or she urinates." What
is it you'd like to achieve with your work?
hm, let's see. I guess I've got two types of work going, which
is the Bee stuff, and then the Jack's Luck Runs Out stuff,
that is to say the more formalistically constrained stuff. I guess
I'd like to see more formalism going into the Bee stuff, gradually
I guess. And I'd like to make more time to do more of the more
overtly formal stuff, which I've largely been ignoring.
What's the most important piece of advice
you can give to aspiring cartoonists?
guess the most important thing I did to force myself to work was
to structure my life with the cartooning time prioritized at the
top. I eliminated activities that would take away from drawing
time -- I quit watching television, for example. Back when I was
living in Michigan I worked at the Public Library, five-to-nine,
five days a week. Just enough for me to live on, and it left all
day open for drawing.
You rock, Jason. Thanks for the interview.
thing. It's been a pleasure.