Sunday, December 08, 2013

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Kathleen Brenowitz

Kathleen Brenowitz was at this fall's Intervention con in Rockville displaying her work. She kindly answered my standard interview questions (all images except the photo are from Kathleen's websites).

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

Kathleen Brenowitz: I'm a pen-and-ink illustrator who writes and draws my
own comics, along with taking commissions for illustrations.

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

Dip-pens with acrylic ink and sometimes watercolors are my usual tools of choice. Something about the scratching tremors I can feel up my hand and the smooth glide of ink is really very calming? I'm usually a ball of energy bouncing around but I like how traditional inking and painting allows me to still myself and focus. I've started experimenting with digital coloring though - I love the broad, even expanses of color you can get with digital, so experimenting has been fun!

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in 1990, in New York (and you can hear it in how fast I talk).

Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I'm actually more towards Baltimore, up in Towson. I went to Goucher College and still have friends in the area, plus the rent's cheaper around here. I've been enjoying my time here though!

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

My mother's old college pals from her art school days are still close friends of the family, and taught me drawing tricks when I was younger, but for the most part I'm self -taught. I did take some classes in high school and college – life drawing (so useful!) - but I eneded up majoring in communications with an interest in film. I think film has aided me in telling stories more visually, and using panels as camera shots.

Who are your influences?

A bit of an odd mix for drawing – Aubrey Beardsley for his clean and sensual linework, Herge for his Tintin comics with their hyper-detail and lovely panel layouts, and Mobius for his beautifully weird designs. Writing is harder to track, since I devour books; I'd say Mr. Asimov had a hand in my love of sci-fi, along with Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett for warping my sense of humor at a young age.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I'm just starting out but...I think I would have tried to get up my webcomic while I was still in college? Would have been nice to have that underway when I graduated so I had some more momentum.

What work are you best-known for?

My black-and-white inks and insane amounts of detail. If I had to describe my style for writing and drawing, I'd have to say 'fiddly'.

What work are you most proud of?

Right now the first issue of my comic series, Pertho. It's called High Hopes and I think it turned out rather

What would you like to do  or work on in the future?

I'd love to have more published works under my belt, along with completing a visual novel.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

Sometimes I run errands on my bike – the movement helps to clear my head and remove any excess nervous energy that might be blocking me. Or at other times I try to get some new imput buy going to a museum or listening to a new band a friend recommends. You can't give good output without some input, and I've found usually writer's block is simply that I'm running myself dry.

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

I have no idea – and that's what makes it so much fun :D

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

I went to Okatcon two times, but I've never been a major con person ; never really had the extra money to spend. But I enjoyed my time at Intervention - this was actually my first time tabling at a con and it couldn't have been more enjoyable! I'm going to be visiting SPX for the first time this year as well, as an attendee :)

What's your favorite thing about DC?

The museums! I still haven't seen all of the National Gallery and I probably never will – it's just that big.

Least favorite?

Well, I'd like it if the mass transit system got some more upkeep. The Metro might look straight out of 1960s French sci-fi, but both it and the buses could use some love.

What monument or museum do you like to take visitors to?

I love the Freer Gallery – it's an oddly intimate gallery, being that it was all one person's taste that collected the pieces. I love taking people through it and seeing if they get that feeling as well, of walking through another person's thought patterns made manifest in their taste.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

Sushi Hana, up here in Towson? Order the fire salmon with a side order of avocado sashmi – it's delicate slices of salmon that have been lightly seared. When you place one in your mouth you can feel them softly melt, the texture a perfect blend of resistance and submission – like a truffle of savory oils. Combine with the avocado, and the flavours of both are perfectly complemented, the avacodo carrying the salmon's inner sweetness but providing perfect contrast for the fish's outer shell of cooked flesh. Seriously, buy it and savor it – it's utterly delicious.

Do you have a website or blog?

Yup! I have an 'official' site at and a tumblr at

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