There was a time when a majority of comics covered epic topics like swooping superheroes, maniacal villains and damsels in distress. These days, they prefer more, erm, ordinary subject matter, such as attempting to read on the subway or pushing out poisonous thoughts.
But that's not to say for one second that these contemporary themes are unoriginal or unimaginative. In fact, we're shocked again and again at just how beautifully a perfect stranger can express the dark, secret fears that plague our minds in those personal moments falling asleep, falling in (unrequited) love, or inappropriately burning with envy.
Few artists embody this new comic era like Anne Emond, a Brooklyn-based illustrator whose works capture those minute moments of crisis we know all too well, but rarely talk about. From tossing and turning in the wee hours of the night to morphing into a bird and taking flight, Emond's works flip from banal to surreal without warning, showing the importance and sincerity of both realms. Immensely personal, with the proper dose of humor and seriousness, Emond renders your most insecure moments in ink so accurately you'll swear she was your long lost BFF. We reached out to learn more about her truthful and hilarious works.
Your drawings ring so true it's almost unreal. Are these illustrations based on your life experiences?
My ideas pretty much all come from real life, even the more surreal comics are just an expression of particular emotional states. Sometimes if I have a feeling that needs purging, drawing it out can be an effective cure. The comics I've done which have proven to be the most popular tend to be the ones I'm the most ambivalent about sharing, sometimes because I perceive them as revealing deeply personal failings, or else I'm afraid of coming off as whiny or self-indulgent. But those are usually the comics that people seem to relate or respond to the most, which is gratifying and, frankly, validating.
What is your brainstorming process like? How long does it take to come up with a comic?
The best ideas usually come while I'm occupied with something else. Mindless tasks are the best: puttering around on my lunch break at my day job, showering, washing dishes, taking a walk, these things let my mind wander. Sometimes I can come up with ideas if I sit at my desk aimlessly doodling, but those are much less satisfying. Coming up with the ideas is the difficult part for me; once I've got the idea, executing it can be frustrating but mostly is a total pleasure.
We spend a lot of time covering gender inequality in the art world. What has your experience been as a woman in the comic world?
My experience has been that so many women are making so many incredible comics these days, and it is a constant thrill being surrounded by their work. I know I have been lucky in that I have not been subject to the kind of online harassment that some of my female peers have dealt with. But a great thing about posting art online is that you don't have to rely on a middleman to expose your work to other people; your audience will find you.
Who are your favorite comics now? What about when you were growing up?
Most recently I've been getting into Tove Jansson's "Moomin" comics and finally understand what all the fuss is about; they're utterly charming and at same time totally unsentimental. Also, lately, reading comics by Kerascoet and Joann Sfar. Some other younger comics artists whose work I admire and follow online include Ines Estrada, Lauren Albert, Emily Carroll, Hellen Jo, and Eleanor Davis. Growing up I loved old New Yorker cartoons, particularly artists like Saul Steinberg and Mary Petty, and also Matt Groening's "Life in Hell." But my central, formative comics love is undoubtedly Lynda Barry. I've been obsessing over her work since I was in high school.