Justin Hall: Straight Into the History of Gay Comics

A comics interview article by: Jason Sacks

Justin Hall's No Straight Lines is a special book in a lot of ways. It's special because it's a tremendously well curated collection of comics that have been almost completely unseen by most comics readers. His book collects nearly 40 years of comics material that is almost completely obscure but which is also often extremely great. No Straight Lines is also special because it sheds light on an almost impossibly obscure area of comics history. I consider myself a comics historian, but the vast majority of the material that Justin presents in this book from the queer comics underground is completely obscure to me. And most importantly, No Straight Lines is a history of many people who have been largely forgotten by anyone but their friends and family.

It's a celebration of some of the most talented, thoughtful cartoonists who have ever worked with pen and ink, most of whom did work for obscure publications that few of us have ever read. No Straight Lines is a celebration of the history of queer comics. But more than that, it's a living testament to memory, to the importance of celebrating the individuals who just wanted to share their experiences. I thought the overall experience of both No Straight Lines and Justin's passion for the material to be incredibly compelling. I hope you enjoy this long but interesting conversation as much as I did in conducting it.

 

Justin Hall: I'm going to be teaching at the first MFA in Comics on the West Coast, at the California College of the Arts. It’s beginning next summer. I guess SVA is starting something similar next year as well. That’ll be three on the East Coast and only one on the West Coast.

 

Jason Sacks for Comics Bulletin: It's so exciting to see comics really getting appreciated as an art form and not just commercial junk.

Hall: Yeah. I mean, it's fascinating because the comics industry is really an odd creature, you know?

I definitely think about the ethics of asking students to pay a lot of money to do an MFA in comics art with no guarantee of a stable job on the other end of it. Though that's a dilemma with any MFA program I suppose, be it in painting, writing, or whatever.

Hopefully as there are more accomplished cartoonists, however, with degrees and a wide range of skills and interests, they're going to push the industry to produce more graphic novels and to make them more sellable. And then to also increase the academic presence of comics. I’m hoping for a snowball effect here. It should be an interesting few years.

CB: I was just wrapping up what I was doing before you called. Which is actually a big reminder of how far we've come. TwoMorrows is putting out a collection of essays about comics in various years, The American Comic Book Chronicles. I got contracted to write about the industry in 1985 and '86.It's shocking to realize that in 1985, which was only 26 years ago, there was almost nothing of artistic value coming out in comics. You know, there was Crisis on Infinite Earth, Secret Wars 2, a lot of kind of mediocre commercial stuff.

In '85 we have a few indie books but still very little. And then even in the next 15 years the industry grew and now it really exploded in size and quality over the last ten years.

Hall: In 1986 wasn't that Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns?

CB: Yeah, Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, and Maus. So that's the big transformative year.

Hall: Yeah, yeah. And I'm trying to think in terms of queer comics. In the mid-'80s there were, you know, Alison Bechdel started Dykes to Watch Out For in 1983 and the Gay Comix anthology series was going strong. It was actually a pretty good moment for gay comics. And it was just as the AIDS crisis was beginning, so some of those narratives were starting to surface.

CB: There were some really impressive pieces in your book about the AIDS crisis in particular.

Hall: Thanks. I definitely wanted to include that stuff because they obviously illustrate an important historical milestone. But also I think that comics approach cultural events in a slightly different way than other media like film or television – because of the DIY and underground traditions in comics, especially in queer comics.

They tend to be these idiosyncratic expressions, oftentimes eccentric points of view and very gut-level stuff that are not necessarily concerned with being marketable at all or having to raise money to produce. You get these comics about the AIDS crisis that are very heartfelt and very genuine and kind of messy in lots of interesting ways. They’re angry or sad or they rail against the anti-sex backlash that happened – in a way that's a lot less sanitized than in other media.

 

CB: Yeah, there's a real directness in the stories that you collect. There are some very personal pieces in this anthology.

Hall: Obviously some of that is me as an editor because I tend to gravitate towards that kind of material, but I think in general the queer comics underground is – if you could categorize it with anything, there is a directness and honesty to the work – a real rawness that's quite impressive. I think that comes out of the feminist underground comics: Wimmen’s Comix, Tits and Clits, etc.

That tradition was started there and then really continued into the punk zines and stuff like that. I think in general, the distinguishing characteristic of queer comics is that they're raw and honest. They’re the stories an oppressed minority is trying to tell themselves about themselves and the world, and there’s an intensity to that mission.

 

CB: The Jaime Cortez comic where he talks basically about the only reason he survived is because he had a strong parental figure around him who told him – forced him basically – to put a condom on. In the midst of all these other stories, that's just so moving.

Hall: Yeah. And thank you for pointing that one out! That's from an excerpt from a truly remarkable graphic novel that I wish was still in print. It's one of those pieces that really inspired me to make this book. It’s a graphic novel called Sexile. It was printed one side in Spanish, the other side in English so it reads as either Sexile or Sexilio.

It was published by I believe the Institute for Gay Men’s Health. So it's not published by a comics publisher or a book publisher even, but rather by an activist organization. It's the story of this remarkable woman who is a trans woman who emigrated from Cuba. And Jaime told her story. It's just incredibly powerful, incredibly moving. All this stuff about being an immigrant, coming over from Cuba, and also then transitioning and becoming a woman. It's funny and it's heartfelt. It's one of those things… most people who love comics and have known about comics for a long time will still probably have never run into that book because it's so – it's, you know, so isolated. Only this one activist organization published it and it went out of print immediately.

 

CB: So you tracked down a lot of really obscure stuff for this book, I imagine. You hit a lot of the high points. You have Alison Bechdel, you have Roberta Gregory. You have Trina Robbins. You also have a lot of stuff that I've certainly never heard of before.

Hall: Cool. Yeah, It was really important to me to have a range. I wanted – you know, I definitely wanted to have names like Alison Bechdel, Howard Cruse, you know – first of all, because they're world-class cartoonists. So I mean you've got to get people like Roberta Gregory in there because they're amazingly talented. But also they provide a point of entry for people because they are names that have gotten out beyond the queer comic ghetto.

But then, after bringing readers in to the world I wanted to show them stuff they'd hopefully never seen before. One of the things that's most fascinating about queer comics is how isolated they were from the rest of the comics world for so long. And so a lot of very, very talented people really aren't known outside of that particular media ghetto. And that was a huge reason for the book, to bring attention to people like Jennifer Camper, Robert Kirby, and Gina Kamentsky and other people that really deserve a bigger audience than they've gotten in the past.

 

CB: Well, I've been reading comics since I was a little kid and although I picked up a lot of comics like Weirdo and the other anthologies of the '80s that were coming out at the time, a lot of these artists were completely obscure to me. It was really exciting to see such a wide group of people who were doing great work.

Hall: It really speaks to – again, it speaks to how isolated queer comics were from the rest of the comics world. You know, Alison Bechdel – I think I wrote about this in the essay – had been doing Dykes to Watch Out For over 20 years when she finally was invited to the Alternative Press Expo. That was the first time that she'd been to a comics convention. She's one of the greatest cartoonists in the world and had been doing comics for over two decades and had never been to a comics convention. That's how isolated it was. The world has really changed now. She, for example, has really crossed over now. And people like Howard Cruse are getting more recognition, I think, in the wider comics world.

But still there's a huge amount of people who produced a lot of really great work that was really never seen outside of that world. A lot of it because most of this material wasn't being sold in comic book stores. It was being sold in gay bookstores and published by gay publishers and serialized in gay newspapers. Or distributed in punk zines. So it was all this underground distribution and most of the stuff never made into the comic book stores.

 

CB: Even in the height of the underground era, there just really wasn't much of an outlet for gay cartoonists.

Hall: The early underground comics artists were overwhelmingly straight men, white men. On the one hand they were remarkable in exploring the messy id expressed through this American subculture. It was amazing to see Robert Crumb talk in this very unpolitically correct way about race and sex and gender. That was actually kind of liberating and amazing.

But also – I think Trina has a point – there was genuine misogyny and genuine homophobia there. She took it upon herself, and then the baton was passed later to people like Roberta Gregory and Mary Wings -they had to make their own stories. They couldn't just complain about this stuff. They had to step up and make their own stories in ways that felt true to them.

It is an interesting moment where the ethos of underground comics really made a lot of this stuff possible, but the real beginnings of that movement were not necessarily very positive for women or queers.

 

CB: It's surprising to me that Trina Robbins's "Sandy Comes Out", which you identify as a real groundbreaking story, didn't even get released until 1972.

Hall: Yeah, right? In Wimmen's Comics #1, 1972. There'd been gay comics material before such as gay gag strips in magazines like The Advocate and certain newspapers, but “Sandy Comes Out” was essentially what I'd call the first literary queer comic, a comic about a queer person that was not erotic and not a gag strip.

Trina was a straight woman and she later got some flak for being a straight woman telling the coming out story of a gay woman, especially considering the identity politics of the time. But if she hadn't done it, when would it have happened? I think now everybody gives her props for having the artistic integrity and courage to produce a story like that.

Interestingly enough, it was also about Robert Crumb’s sister… she came out as a lesbian after she was Trina’s roommate.

CB: That was three years after the Stonewall Riots. You'd expect a bit more of an explosion immediately after those riots. But I guess—

Hall: There was some stuff that was happening. The gay gag strips were appearing in the early gay media. You have to remember just because the Stonewall Riots happened, these comics still had to be produced somewhere. There certainly weren't many venues open. So in New York and San Francisco the local gay newspapers and then some of the feminist-oriented underground comics began. So there were probably people who wanted to make this material but there was really no place to sell it, to distribute it or to get it out there. To a certain extent they were kind of waiting for the market to develop around it.

You were talking about homophobia – even later on it arose in surprising ways. Even later on there was a dismissal of queer cartoonists. There's the book Dyke Strippers that came out – I mention it in the essay. It was edited by Roz Warren. It came out in 1994. That book was a collection, a kind of “Who's Who” of lesbian cartoonists. It's very, very comprehensive. It has all these interviews and quotes with the different cartoonists as well as examples of their work. That was in response to the fact that Twisted Sisters had come out, edited by Diane Newman. Do you know those comics?

CB: A bit.

Hall: Yeah, Twisted Sisters had come out as an anthology of the best of women cartoonists and there weren't any lesbian cartoonists in there. So the lesbian cartoonists at the time were furious. How could you do that, completely ignore the lesbian and bisexual women cartoonists? So that's why they created Dyke Strippers. 1994 is late for – you'd think the women's comics scene would have been completely inclusive by that point and it really still wasn't.

 

CB: The really interesting point about this book is it was pretty much completely outside of the mainstream radar.

Hall: Yeah. And really most of this stuff was meant as a conversation within the queer community and within the queer artistic and underground community. It wasn't trying to – I mean, I think when you have queer comics that are designed to be read by straight people and by kind of the whole range of society, they take on a different tone. But when they're really designed to be an internal conversation, it's a very different kind of material.

They're full of inside jokes, for one thing. They can also be self-critical about the community in a way that would be inappropriate if the material was seen outside of the community. If you look at Burton Clark's piece “Cy Ross and the Snow Queen Syndrome” that explores racism among gay men. It's a really wonderful, nuanced—it's not didactic at all. The main character is a black man who's sexually interested in white men. He gets called out by one of his black friends as a sexual racist and he goes about trying to break himself of that.

It's a complex, nuanced story that would have been very difficult for a straight audience at the time. Just to think about race and sexuality in such sophisticated ways. Since it was essentially a story designed for other queers, it's something that gay men had been talking about at the time.

 

CB: It's interesting because there's something about being able to do something in comics, the immediacy, the personal elements of it, the lack of production costs. That allows you to do something more direct in comics form.

Hall: Right. I think comics are an ideal medium for that kind of statement for two reasons. First, I think there's the DIY nature of it. It costs so little to produce. It's just you and paper and ink ultimately. So you can have this very personal and very eccentric vision that you can still bring to light that would be impossible with something like film, or television, which require all these resources and funding and bureaucracy behind them.

So the DIY nature for sure and then the fact that they're both narrative and visual is incredibly important. As I did research for this book, I kept hearing from people about how important it was to see themselves. More important than just reading about themselves in prose books, because you could literally see yourself depicted.

So for a lot of young queers, the first time they saw representations of themselves was in Dykes to Watch out For. They could see what they looked like. Alison took that very, very seriously. She knew exactly what that position was. It was very important to her to show a whole spectrum of what lesbians could look like - a wide range of all different body types and all different races and all different kinds of sexuality, different income levels, different socioeconomic classes.

It was very important to her to be inclusive because she knew that there were legions, whole generations of young, queer people that would see themselves for the first time in her strips. And that's a huge responsibility. You see that in the more established cartoonists like Howard Cruse and Alison Bechdel. There's this sense that the art is their own personal expression but there's also giving back to community. To a beleaguered community.

 

CB: And one of the most interesting parts of this book is you can really see true portraits of everything that was involved in the lifestyle at the time. Whether it's clothes or the places people go out to. Even the relationships between people. There's something almost iconographic about having it in comic form. Like the Jerry Mills strips for example.

Hall: Jerry Mills was amazing! Poppers is one of the great strips that never made it out of the queer media ghetto, and he was a master at documenting in a funny, cartoony way the gay life of the times. I’m hoping that readers see it and want more of it. There needs to be a collection of Jerry’s work.

To relate it back to something you said before, there's something specific about the way that comics visualize things. They're a visual and narrative medium, but they are also an illustrative medium. It's not like having a photograph of someone. You can draw someone however you want to. You're portraying yourself and your community in ways that can be fantastical. They can be about how you want to be perceived. It's much more subjective and interpretive when it's illustrated that way. And I was hoping, definitely, and like you said, to show how we drew ourselves literally changed over time.

 

CB: What's something you learned in this book that you hadn't expected to find out about or didn't know about?

Hall: The process of putting together this book has been a long process, so there have been plenty of discoveries along the way. It started essentially when I did this show at the Comic Art Museum on queer cartoonists, called No Straight Lines: Queer Culture and the Comics. We were going to do a catalog of that show but the funding fell through. The idea was shelved in the back of my head. And then later on I took up this idea of making a much more comprehensive book about this subject. It's been a long slog.

Then I also became the Talent Relations Chair for Prism Comics – which is an advocacy group for LGBT comics. That led me to learn more and more about this world, which has such surprising depth and surprising breadth. There was much more to it than I had initially expected.

Some of the big surprises were the European cartoonists. There are definitely more English language queer comics happening, but there are queer cartoonists in Germany, France, Spain, and Italy – for example – who are doing really wonderful work. A lot of it I wasn't able to excerpt because so much of their work tends to be in graphic novel form and not in short story form. I really tried to stay away from doing unsatisfying excerpts. But I’m very proud of the fact that there’s material in No Straight Lines that’s been translated into English for the very first time.

That was definitely a revelation, how international this stuff is. I included an Israeli cartoonist who’s doing beautiful gay haiku comics. I even found stuff from South America that I couldn't really put it in the book, but I discovered in the course of our research.

Another surprising element was the explosion of queer webcomics in recent times. They’ve been really vibrant and have contributed to different kinds of voices. I also think that some of the most exciting voices right now are the trans cartoonists who are doing comics about trans identities. It's been really wonderful to see that.

I'm trying to think of other specific surprises. It was fun digging through all these old – I would go to the Last Gasp, which is around the corner from me actually – Last Gasp has a distribution warehouse, and I would go through this labyrinth of shelves with piles of comics in them. There's more stuff buried in these shelves at Last Gasp… Finding these stacks of old Wimmen's Comics and Tits and Clits and Gay Comix and Watch Out Comix and all these old underground titles that have been out of print for decades. That was really, really exciting for me. And if you're a geek, there's nothing more exciting than pouring over these old things and finding the gems.

CB: Yeah, that sounds like heaven to me. That's the kind of thing we dream about as fans and collectors. It's interesting what you say about the European comics because some of my favorites were the Ralf Koenig pieces.

Hall: Oh, I love him. Honestly, I think he may very well be the funniest cartoonist on the planet right now. Queer or straight, he's absolutely hilarious. He's the most popular cartoonist in Germany, and he is the most popular gay cartoonist in all of Europe. And his stuff has been translated from French to Finnish. But, he's gotten very little play in the English-language market. There have been a few attempts to translate him. Kitchen Sink tried. Catalan tried. There are some translations by his German publisher. And now Jeff Krell has been publishing some translations.

But they haven’t done very well. They haven't been pushed right. He's incredibly prolific, with all these graphic novels to his name and very little of it is available in English. Whereas you can get his entire body of work in French or Spanish or Italian. You can only find a couple of translations in English.

And it's really interesting. I think there are a couple of reasons for that. His style is very European, that kind of, you know, big nose and three fingers and, you know, American audiences in particular and probably British audiences have a hard time with that style.

And then also I think it's difficult for retailers in particular in the United States to know where to shelve that kind of material. It oftentimes has graphic sex in it, but it's not porn. It's more comedy. And some of the stuff is even more drama, but it has graphic sex. And yet it has a style that for American audiences looks like an all ages comic. I think Americans just don't know what to do with it, which is a real shame.

He's one of the best humorist cartoonists on the planet. I mean, he's incredible. Some of his graphic novels, like, he's got one called Super Paradise. It's extraordinary. It's an extraordinary piece of work. And the main characters Konrad and Paul, who he goes back to a lot, and one of them becomes HIV-positive. So it starts and there are these really intense, powerful moments dealing with this tragedy, in the midst of an incredibly funny story. And I mean, it's this masterful graphic novel and it's nowhere to be found in English.

 

CB: That's interesting because even those two excerpts give a tantalizing taste, especially the one about the ancient Greeks, which is devastatingly funny.

Hall: He does these collections of mostly two pagers, along with his graphic novels. And they're so funny. He's got this incredibly prolific wit. When I picked out that strip, I could've picked out any number of them. I mean, they're all that funny. It's really that good. It's a crying shame that more of his stuff isn’t available.

 

CB: See, this was my fear, Justin when I picked up your book. I'd have all these ways to spend my money. I'd have all these new books I had to buy.

Hall: Definitely part of it is – I definitely want a broader audience to be aware of these queer comics. The main thing is to not let them get lost. To begin a conversation about this material so fans can find the stories and hopefully more academic work can be done on them. I just don't want them to be forgotten and lost. Especially since the queer media ghetto that gave a lot of support for this material is essentially falling apart. The gay bookstores are closing. The gay newspapers are closing. The gay publishers are closing down.

The queer media ghetto that supported a lot of this material is kind of falling apart and this material is in danger of being lost. So I want people to be aware of how good a lot of it was and is.

 

CB: That media ghetto as you call it is hitting a lot of the same problems that a lot of traditional material is facing in the Internet age.

Hall: Yeah, I think it's a two pronged thing for queer media. On the one hand, gay bookstores are running into the same problems that all independent bookstores are running into. And gay newspapers are running into the same thing that all newspapers are running into.

On top of that, you used to have a reality where mainstream bookstores wouldn't touch anything that was queer. That's not true anymore, which is a good thing. Every bookstore now is going to have a gay and lesbian section. Every newspaper is going to carry stories about queer people. It's not a problem anymore. This is a very good thing, but of course it means there's less need for the niche market of the gay bookstore. And there's something sad about that.

Of course, it's very much a good thing that queer narratives are accepted in the mainstream more, but it's also a bittersweet thing because there's also a sense of loss of culture.

I was just talking to a client of mine who's from Vermont who said that after Vermont passed gay marriage, the last gay bar closed in Vermont. And I was like, what is that about? How is that possible? Gay marriage was allowed in Vermont and the gay bar closes? Well, if you think about it, the reason for the gay bar was three-fold. The first is you have safe space. A space that you can be safe in that you're not going to be attacked. You're not going to be harassed. The second thing would be hookups, and the third thing would be community. A kind of community and culture.

You don't need safe space in Vermont anymore because especially the younger generation isn’t bashing queers. They aren't attacking people so much anymore. And then you don't need hookup space anymore because they're all on their phones. With their iPhone apps – like Grinder or Scruff – or they're on their computer on Manhunt or whatever. It's really easy to hookup without a bar. You can hook up online now. So there's less needed for these bars. But the problem is that you lose the sense of community and culture that the bars engendered. So you get a steady erosion of a distinctive queer culture, a distinctive gay culture. And there's something sad about that.

CB: It's fascinating that acceptance of gay culture has gotten more pervasive. I'm not gay but I have a daughter who's 19 who goes to the University of Washington who came out when she was about 14, and her high school had a gay student society.

Hall: At 14 she was able to come out?

CB: Well, yeah. She knew who she was and she felt who she wanted to be. “She knew who she was” is the only way of putting it and she wanted to be herself and...

Hall: That's so amazing, because that was not possible a generation ago.

CB: Right. And we talk about it all the time that we live in a liberal section of a liberal state.

Hall: You know, if you look at the rest of the world. I was just hearing stories about how in Iraq gay men – these gangs will come and glue their asses shut.

CB: Oh my god.

Hall: Yeah, so they die of toxic shock from their waste built up and the hospitals won't treat them because they're homosexuals.

CB: Wow.

Hall: So absolutely horrible things are happening to queer people around the world. Don't get me wrong. You know, we've seen certainly in the industrialized world and particularly in the progressive states and progressive communities it's changed very—it's been changing very fast.

I never thought in my lifetime I would see gay marriage be possible. And it's, you know, I think now before I die I will see gay marriage legalized in probably most of the industrialized world. Which is fantastic.

Have you shown your daughter the book?

CB: No, I haven't. I haven't actually seen her in a couple of weeks.

Hall: I'm really interested to hear what young queers think of the book because there's so much queer history in it. And the problem with queer history and queer culture is that it doesn't get passed down through families. You can't have the elders of the family tell these stories because they're probably not going to be queer. So queer history and culture has to get passed along in other ways and through community. And again, a lot of that is breaking apart.

So I'm always kind of fascinated to hear—one of the most touching moments at Comic-con for me was that when Fantagraphics sold out off the book, the last book that I sold was to a straight mother who came up to me. She had a young gay son who was about the same age as your daughter, about 19 or 20, and she showed me a picture of him and she was like, I really want him to know about queer history and queer culture and the legacy of that. It was so powerful. It was great.

 

CB: I think part of the life of being a parent to help your child experience things as intensely as they can; to give them more perspective on things and help them realize that they're alone in their experiences in the world. A book like yours is a great service, because where else are people going to get the down to earth, real world view of how things were for the last three or four decades.

Hall: Thank you. That's another huge, huge part of this, to make sure that that history gets passed on to the younger generations and is put down on paper in some way. I really, really want to make sure that librarians have this and get a hold of this book. I think they already have. It's already happening. The response to the book has been really, really good. Of course, librarians are super cool anyway. But if libraries and schools can have copies of this book, that's a huge win.

 

CB: There are a few pages that you might not want to have in a high school library.

Hall: The big penis with a condom on it on page 103 might not work in most high schools. (laughs) The colleges, yes, it's time for them to learn about condoms by the time they get to college.

CB: Your book has already sold out the first printing, which is amazing. How long has it been out, now?

Hall: It’s not actually sold out because there are still copies in the bookstores and distribution warehouses. But it went out of stock at the publishers. Fantagraphics ran out of it in the last week and a half.

That was huge. It's really gratifying because I busted my ass on this book and also to promote it. And also I have to give credit to Jacquelene Cohen from Fantagraphics. She's just fabulous and we've worked really well together to get the book out there. And then Eric Reynolds from Fantagraphics, too. He’s amazing.

But also I'm glad because I want publishers like Fantagraphics to know that queer stories sell. They can sell to a broad section of the comics reading audience, even a straight audience. But also there's a queer market hungry for this kind of material that really wants this stuff to come out and will pay for it. They'll buy these books.

 

CB: You have to be thinking about a second book at this point.

Hall: (boisterous laughter) Yeah, it's interesting. If I did a second volume, there's a couple of ways that I could go. One would obviously be manga. I decided not to deal with any of the manga material because it's a whole other world. It has its own culture to it, its own sensibilities. You have to deal with things like the yaoi material. It’s another book. That's one way to do it, to do the queer manga book.

Another way to go: I would love to do a book of queer erotic comics. I wanted to make sure No Straight Lines was focused on the literary material and not the erotica because, oddly enough, the erotic comics has been better archived. That stuff is in less danger of being lost and forgotten. But if I did do a second volume, I would love to do a volume of gay and lesbian erotic comics. Because there's some really great stuff that people really haven't been aware of.

There's some really obvious stuff that people have seen, but there's some really interesting erotic underground comics that have been done. They're incredibly varied artistically, with all different kinds of artistry and artistic styles, and really interesting points of view and stuff like that. So that would be another way to do a second volume.

And looking forward into the future I would love to do – thinking about Trina Robbins, she's now doing an update to her women cartoonists book. Every few years you have to do that. It's necessary. I could see an update version, especially to focus on the webcomics that are really exploding, for example. I would love to do an update in five to ten years.

 

CB: Of course, you'd also like to get back to doing your own cartooning as well.

Hall: Yeah! Oh my god, yes. It's been a really fantastic experience putting this book together, but I really have – between this and teaching at CCA, I've been teaching and editing comics now for the last year and a half and haven't really been making much. It's been driving me crazy. I'm finally getting back to the drawing board now and I'm really, really excited. I've got some really fun stuff that I'm doing.

Have you heard of Henry and Glen Forever?

 

CB: Yeah, we reviewed that a few weeks ago on Comics Bulletin, actually. One of my reviewers absolutely loves that book.

Hall: it's hilarious. I'm doing a story for their third issue. It's going to be an Orpheus parody where Orpheus goes down to "Gaydes" , gay Hades, to rescue Rollins's soul from the Queen of Gaydes, who is of course Freddie Mercury.

So I'm going to do a story for that and another thing for Robert Kirby's anthology Three, an autobiographical piece about my insane ex-boyfriend, who oddly enough was Dean Haspiel’s roommate back when we all went to college together. It’ll be one of those classic “crazy ex” stories.

I'm helping to put together this MFA at CCA, but I'm also going to be going back to school to get an MFA. If I'm going to really pursue the academic stuff. I'm going to have to get a Master's degree as well. I'm looking forward to a couple of years of actually being in graduate school fulltime and teaching graduate school fulltime. Yeah, yeah, not a lot of sleeping. But I’ll be making and teaching and studying comics… so I’ll be happy!

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