“The anxiety and the happiness are just so close together”
On this interview episode Andy and Derek are pleased to have as their guest Gabrielle Bell. Her latest book, Everything Is Flammable, came out recently from Uncivilized Books. The guys talk with Gabrielle extensively about the idea for this book — described as her first long-form graphic memoir — and how it evolved from her work on short diary pieces. What binds most of the entries in Everything Is Flammable are her experiences with her mother after her northern California house was destroyed in a fire. The guys also ask her about her annual event, the July diary, a project in which she was in the middle of at the time of this recording. Gabrielle discusses both the pleasures and the struggles of completing her self-imposed month-long project and how this year’s daily stories surround her time house- and pet-sitting for her friend and publisher, Tom Kaczynski. Along the way, Gabrielle reveals her various thoughts on being a semi-autobiographical cartoonist, the uncertainties of including friends and family members in her comics, the responsibilities she feels in those representations, and the very problem of trying to pigeonhole her work within a particular genre or form.
On this episode of the interview series — the very first for cohost Paul Lai! — the Two Guys with PhDs are pleased to have as their guest Mike Dawson. His latest book, Rules for Dating My Daughter: The Modern Father’s Guide to Good Parenting, comes out on May 10th from Uncivilized Books, and our fearless cohosts talk with Mike about his project’s journey from Tumblr, to Kickstarter, to finished book. One of the things they discuss early on is the fact that Rules for Dating My Daughter is not one of those gun-hugging “hurt my daughter, and I will hurt you” kind of books you’d expect from the cover image. In it, Mike lays bare his thoughts on the responsibilities of fatherhood (and not just for his daughter) and how those concerns relate to larger-world issues. The book is episodic in nature, comprising fifteen short strips focusing on such topics as gender roles, violence in America, religious observance, global warming, carnivorism, and cultural intolerance…and all filtered through parental concerns. Paul and Derek ask Mike about the genesis of this project and how it’s significantly different from his previous books, Troop 142 and Angie Bongiolatti (both published by Secret Acres). At the same time, the tone of the new book isn’t dissimilar from those works, and, in fact, one could argue that in Rules for Dating My Daughter, Mike is bringing together the themes of the earlier works — both political and familial — and combing them with the autobiographic approach established in his first book, Freddy and Me. And toward the end of the interview, the guys ask Mike about his work as a podcaster cohosting Ink Panthers with Alex Robinson and heading up TCJ Talkies. All in all, the guys have a great time talking with their guest about his art, his thoughts on the industry, and the current state of our culture…as only a dad could do.