Monday, November 21, 2016

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Lenora Yerkes

by Mike Rhode

I met Lenora Yerkes recently at a local art book festival where she was selling two minicomics.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I write stories inspired by my life--you might call it personal or observational narrative drawing. 

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

I'm all analog--pens and paper and nothing fancier than a nice Japanese pen and a kinda busted scanner. 

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

My favorite Dolly Parton song (9 to 5) was a Billboard #1 hit the year I was born--in Los Angeles, CA. 

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

This is my tenth year in DC and my seventh in Bloomingdale. I came for graduate school and stayed for love--of this weird place and its weird people.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning? 

Twenty Six Days
In cartooning? None at all. My drawing has always been narrative and it's always told stories. I've drawn comics over the years, along with big narrative drawings and prints, but recently I'm devoting more time to this "comix" format that brings writing and drawing together into more literal narratives. 

Who are your influences?

Lynda Barry, for sure, but also Vanessa Davis and Evan Dorkin and Kathe Kollwitz (OG narrative printmaker!) and the surrealist painters Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington.

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

I would have worked more. There's always room for more work. 

What work are you best-known for?

This season, I shared a lot of a mini-comic I made called "Hibakusha." An interesting thing happened in sharing that book that I didn't expect--a lot of young people were interested because of the ostensible subject, but a lot of older folks were drawn in by the title, which is a word not that commonly used anymore. Response to that story has been great. 

What work are you most proud of? 

"Twenty Six Days" turned out beautifully and was a bear to compose. The process of writing that one is something I hope to improve on and then bottle. 

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

Longer works! I'm a long-winded, round-about lover of analogies and metaphors, so I work a lot on making complex ideas concise. I'd love to build the patience to compose and draw a longer story. 

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

Twenty Six Days page
These days, I go for a swim. My father-in-law tells me we get more ideas when we're in the water. 

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

Comics or narrative drawing or cartooning--whatever you call it--can be used to tell any kind of story. We're situated to redefine what people think when they hear these words and move these kinds of drawings into every field. 

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

I tabled at SPX this year for the first time and was lucky enough to participate in the first ever DC Art Book Fair. It's a huge, diverse community of a lot of artists doing different things. 

What's your favorite thing about DC?

Hibakusha detail

DC is like no where else and every where else, all at once. 

Least favorite?


What monument or museum do like to take visitors to?

Actually, the view from the top of the 13th Street hill is one of my faves right now. 

How about a favorite local restaurant?

Meats & Foods at 247 Florida Ave NW--a beautiful simple store making great food. 

Do you have a website or blog?

The best place to see my work is Instagram @lenorayerkes, but you can also see it at

No comments: