This Book, That Book

Katherine Kwong is a delight. She’s smart and earnest and curious and very, very kind. We first met in person at my book tour event for 100 Demon Dialogues at McNally Jackson in New York, and her online exuberance is even more tangible in person. When she told me she was launching a podcast to interview folks about formative books from their childhoods, I couldn’t wait to hear it. Little did I know she was planning to interview me for its inaugural season!

Because of Quarantine Time I honestly couldn’t have told you when we recorded this conversation for This Book, That Book, but given the details I share about our foster dog it seems to have been fairly early on in the whole process. Possibly March. Anyway, I was delighted to get a text this morning saying that my episode had gone live, so I share it here for all of you to enjoy.

We discussed My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, a sun-drenched dream of a book full of thoughtful observations, eccentric characters, and a deep love of the natural world. It holds a place very near to my heart and manages to act as a touchstone in our conversation for growing up with a menagerie of creatures in Southern California, life as an only child, and my nascent love of tall ships (partly catalyzed by the book’s own small vessel, the Bootle-Bumtrinket).

You can listen to the episode (and check out the four other interviews released so far) below:

The Right Number

Hello, long-neglected blog. I hope the tumbleweeds and bits of lint accumulating in the corners of this platform have been keeping you warm, even if they’re singularly unable to keep you company.

I’m back because I launched an odd new project on my birthday last month and I wanted to talk about it here to break my long silence and maybe goad myself into blogging more often on a website I actually own.

So: the new thing!

A navy square with elegant gold lettering that reads "The Right Number: a place to speak and be heard." Underneath it is a number: 503-673-6267

The Right Number is basically a secular confessional housed in a voicemail box. Dial (503) 673-6267 and you’ll hear a brief prompt, after which you can record a response for up to three minutes. All messages are confidential, prompts rotate every two weeks.

The first two prompts (“What’s something you wish someone would say to you right now?” and “What’s something you wish you could say to someone else right now?”) both elicited a wide range of thoughtful, heart-wrenching, funny replies. I’d say it was working as intended if I’d had any real sense of how this was going to go ahead of time, but I didn’t.

As it stands, I’m very happy with the project so far. The user base is still small—an intimate crowd of willing weirdos—and I’m perfectly content for it to stay that way. Recording freewheeling audio updates over on Patreon every two weeks for the last couple years has taught me that sometimes the quality of conversation and connection I’m hungry for online is best cultivated through sustained, vaguely directed projects over long periods of time.

So: that’s the thing!

If you want to play along, you can sign up for this tiny newsletter that’ll send you an email reminder every time there’s a new prompt (usually on Mondays, but I make no promises).

I’ll see you in the voicemail box,

L

Rage, Liberation, & the Adventurous Life with Tessa Hulls

I love being on Patreon for many, many reasons, but chief among them is the platform it’s given me to record more conversations with creators I admire. I already keep an extensive archive of panels, talks, and classes on my SoundCloud page, but the support and enthusiasm of my Patrons has allowed me to add candid monthly interviews to the mix. Typically these conversations go up for Patrons first, and then (if the artists are comfortable with it) on the public feed a few weeks later.

Back in September I spoke to Tessa Hulls—a dream interviewee of mine for some time. Tessa’s work defies categorization, but it often encompasses notions of heritage, independence, wilderness, and community—all things I am endlessly fascinated by. She did a staggering number of residencies in 2018, all while juggling enough concurrent projects to make my head spin. I am deeply in awe of her energy and dedication.

In this 90-minute conversation, we discuss merging identities to create powerful new selves, balancing finances as a traveling artist, the transformative power of alternative community gatherings, coming into one’s own as a vulnerable communicator, navigating fine art spaces, “pathological independence,” and the current cultural crucible of female rage. Notes on our conversation below:

If you want to see more of Tessa’s work, I’d highly recommend starting with…

• This essay about bike touring, weddings, and personal freedom

• This glorious series of paper cut paintings

• This comic about rage

• And, really, everything on Tessa’s website and Instagram. Her graphic memoir, Hungry Ghosts, is definitely a project to keep an eye on over the next few years.

If you liked this conversation and want to help support more things like it, you might also like supporting me on Patreon! I am deeply indebted to the folks there for making these talks possible.

Thanks for listening!

Imposter Syndrome in Our Own Words

One of the great pleasures of touring this year has been gathering groups of smart, accomplished people in a room and then asking them about their worst experiences with Imposter Syndrome. I heard raw truths from creators in Chicago and San Francisco, who then brought their wisdom to bear on what we can do to make ourselves feel less alone in the face of these challenges.

These conversations were complex and enlightening, and I’m so glad to make them available for you all to listen to on the web (thanks to the support of my rad team on Patreon). Check out the audio players below to find two new episodes featuring wisdom from Craighton Berman, Michi Trota, Suzanne Walker, Bobbie Johnson, Molly McLeod, and Rose Eveleth.

I’ve got a bunch of new conversations going up soon, so be sure to keep an eye out if you’re in need of more things to listen to. Enjoy!

The Galaxy of Super Adventure: Fears

Hey Friends,

If you like spaceships, comics, radio drama, and the practice of making things, let me recommend a really fun podcast! The Galaxy of Super Adventure is part one part galactic adventure saga, two parts creative advice round-table. It’s run by my comics pals Ben Hatke, Zack Giallongo, and Jerzy Drozd, and this week’s episode (all about FEAR) features a guest appearance by yours truly!

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I play Bold Space Adventurer and Sensitive Artist Lucy Bellwood, crashing in for a talk about artistic anxiety and self-doubt with the help of my sentient French mustache sidekick, Polly (pictured above).

The whole series is a hoot, and I highly recommend listening to it from the start, but if you just want to jump in for this episode, check it out here. Enjoy!

 

Audio Treats: KBOO and Chris Schweizer

A quick post today to let you all know I’ve got two new audio interviews up for your listening pleasure!

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I had a great time guesting on KBOO’s Words and Pictures show a couple weeks ago, where I talked to host S. W. Conser about my recent projects, including my upcoming show at Portland’s Sequential Art Gallery (more on that tomorrow!). You can give that a listen right here.

I also had the immense pleasure of talking with fellow boat-savvy cartoonist Chris Schweizer as part of his new conversational podcast. We delve into all sorts of stuff including (but not limited to) boats, comics, theater, higher education, and French comics. Chris is not only a stellar cartoonist and history buff (have you read Crogan’s Vengeance? YOU SHOULD. IT HAS GOT BOATS IN), but also an eloquent, fascinating guy. This was a blast! You can expect more of these recordings from him in the future, so keep an eye out.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more details about next week’s show at the Sequential Art Gallery. Hooray!

Talking Kickstarter with ConSequential

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If you’re looking for some good audio material for your Thursday afternoon, I recently did an interview with Mr. Dave Convery of the ConSequential podcast all about everyone’s favorite topic: Kickstarter! We discuss the merits and pitfalls of crowdfunding for comics, as well as some other nonsense. In their own words, the episode boasts:

More comics! More jokes! More interviews! More inexplicable digressions about cauliflower. These people got mad brassica love, yo.

So go on, you mustard-mad heathens. Give it a listen.