Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Meet a Visiting SPX Cartoonist: A Chat with Jennifer Hayden

The Washington City Paper blog is a bit backed up with a bunch of interviews I've gotten for SPX so I'll run some with friends here. I met Jennifer Hayden at Baltimore Comic Con in 2010, and we talked about webcomics and her plans to draw a comic about her breast cancer. As you might expect, Jennifer's not your typical 20-something young cartoonist. According to her biography on ACT-I-VATE, "is a politically incorrect mother of two. She lives in a barn in New Jersey with her husband, two kids, three cats and the dog. As a child, she spent every summer sprawled on the couch, reading the Archies. Now that wise investment is paying off."

CDC: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I do autobiographical comix. My first book of comix, Underwire, just came out from Top Shelf. It started life as a webcomic on ACT-I-VATE.com. Meanwhile, I've started posting another webcomic called S'Crapbook on www.onlytheblogknowsbrooklyn.com, and I'm finishing a graphic novel about my life and my experience with breast cancer which will be published by Top Shelf as well.

CDC: What work are you best-known for?

JH: I guess I'm known for my work in Underwire, the personal rantings of a middle-aged woman with a husband and teenagers. Although some people have seen bits of the other book I'm working on, about my breast cancer, which is a much heavier project.

CDC: How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

I never went to art school, so I draw with the same tools I used as a teenager: a Rapidograph pen on Bristol smooth paper. Now, though, I use Photoshop to scan the panels, which I create individually, and to arrange them on pages for print purposes (they stay individual panels in my webcomix.)

CDC: Can you tell us a little about your books that you'll have with you at SPX?

JH: I'll be debuting my new book Underwire. Top Shelf did a beautiful job publishing this baby--softcover with French flaps, and a gorgeous book and cover design by Chris Ross. It's eighty pages, with twenty-two of the webcomic strips, plus seventeen new pages of comix and art made exclusively for this book. I'll also be selling a new minicomic, with a collection of strips from my new webcomic S'Crapbook, currently running on www.onlytheblogknowsbrooklyn.com.

CDC: If you've attended the Small Press Expo in the past - do you have any thoughts about your experience?

JH: My first SPX was last year--I went to help out at Dean Haspiel's table, selling his new book Cuba--and I had such a blast. It's so much more sane, quiet and comfortable than New York Comic Con and even MoCCA, two conventions I've attended in New York City for the past few years. I couldn't get over how easy it was to talk with my favorite cartoonists. They were all there! I was literally wandering around in heaven. And this year: Roz Chast? Diane Noomin? Will my head just explode? Possibly.

CDC: What are you looking forward to buying or seeing or doing for this year's event? Or who do you want to see, to catch up on old times, or to have a fangirl experience?

JH: I look forward to having my first book out, that's for sure. (I am thinking of fashioning a paper crown that says "comix princess" and wearing it all weekend.) I also am seriously looking forward to being on a panel on Sunday called "Images of The Body", moderated by Craig Fischer, with Robyn Chapman (Hey 4-Eyes!, Make), Gabby Schulz (Monsters), and Jen Vaughn (Don't Hate, Menstruate! Heavy Flow), about "the ethics, erotics and extremes involved in representing the external experience of the body." Naturally I have a long shopping list of books I can't wait to get my hands on, from Top Shelf and some other publishers, and I'll be catching up with friends and swooning over some longtime idols. And then, of course, there's the smorgasbord of minicomics...

CDC: What's your favorite thing about the DC area? Least favorite?

JH: I was at the convention most of the time last year, so I didn't much of DC. I understand the traffic can be a bear, and this year should be challenging, with all the commemorative stuff going on in the city.

CDC: What monument or museum do you like or wish to visit when you're in town?

JH: I'd love to see the Smithsonian someday.

CDC: What do you think will be the future of your field?

JH: I haven't really been in this field long enough to say. What excites me is the prospect of graphic novels growing in this country as a literary form--to takehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif on more aspects of traditional and experimental fiction, and use art to blow out the cobwebs. I think there's huge room for growth in this direction, and I can't wait to see what happens.

CDC: Do you have a website or blog?

JH: Yes. http://www.goddesscomix.blogspot.com/ and http://www.jenniferhayden.com/.

The Small Press Expo takes place 11 am–7 p.m. Sept. 10 and noon–6 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Road, Bethesda. $10-$15.

No comments: