Archive for the ‘art’ Category

Tuesday, October 18th

Check Out: Cousin Corinne’s Reminder.


If you’re looking for a new lit mag that will stoke the fires of your brain check out Cousin Corinne’s Reminder.


It’s a powerhouse of a lit mag, serving up everything you might possibly be interested in, from big names like Jhumpa Lahiri, Nick Flynn and Jonathan Lethem to internet superstars like Emma Straub and Rachel Glaser.


Not to mention the visual quality is fantastic, a commendable effort of the idea of the book as an artifact, something to be treasured: full color, superb attention to design and layout, and extensive coverage of contemporary fine artists and photographers.


And they have comics! The whole idea feels like a throwback to an arts almanac, a big ass book with plenty of information and stimulation to tide you over for a long winter on the farm. Click on over to their site to check them out, I heard they just reduced their prices, take advantage!

Monday, October 17th

Bacon! The Experience.


Orlando creative stalwart Doug Rhodehamel‘s new project was a show all about bacon. Found objects, sculptures, portraits, interactive installations, drinks. All bacon.


Here we have used paper towels from a local coffee shop that resemble bacons.


An interactive piece where the viewer is encouraged to manipulate the sand to best create a bacon-like image, the sand representing the marbled fat of a piece of bacon.


Bacon bits made of cardboard. The viewer is encouraged to take one and bring the experience home. In the US, bacon usually comes from pork belly, often cured then cut into strips and pan fried. Bacon has garnered a lot of attention in American culture lately in what many have deemed “bacon mania” leading to an influx of bacon related and flavored products.


Bacon sculptures hanging from rafters. Due to bacon’s high fat and salt content, the meat is considered very tasty. However, it should be noted that high consumption of bacon could lead to a variety of health problems including, but not limited to, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

I had some bacon flavored vodka at this show. My girlfriend is a vegetarian. She smelled my breath after I took a few sips. She advised that if I wanted to kiss her in the future it would be in my best interests to discontinue use of the bacon flavored vodka. It kind of smelled like artificially flavored bacon that is often used for pet foods. I made the decision to put the drink down.

Friday, October 7th

Justin Gibbens.


If you’re in the Seattle area this weekend, head on over to the G. Gibson Gallery where Issue #4 contributor and cover boy Justin Gibbens is showing new work from his series Spiderland. Justin focuses his fantastical lens in on a horrifically beautiful new series of Dr. Moreau-esque creatures that seem to be the hybrid of bird, mammal and arachnid. Thanks for the nightmares, Justin. For real though, Gibbens is an amazing talent and you’re going to want to check out his artistry in person.

Tuesday, October 4th

Listen to the Light.

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My dear friends Ryan and Hays Holladay make music together under the name Bluebrain. They’ve been doing this for a few years now. What they’ve also been doing in addition to making music is making weird, technology/music hybrid projects like the one they just released today called Listen to the Light. It’s the second in a series of “location-aware” albums wherein you download an app to your smart phone, plug in your headphones and walk around Central Park. The interesting part is the phone’s built in GPS triggers different pieces of music depending on what area of the park you’re in. They also did one for the National Mall in DC.

Listen to the Light just got released today and I’m very psyched about it. Check it out if you’re interested in music and technology, which, if you’re on an art/literature blog right now, is safe to assume you might be.

Video teaser…

‘Making of’ documentary….

Monday, September 19th

An Interview with Walter Green.

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{Image by Walter Green, excerpted from the story “Golem” appearing in Annalemma Issue Eight: Creation}

Out of the blue, I got an email from Walter Green earlier this year requesting to work with Annalemma. I clicked over to his site to check out his work and immediately recognized some of the images. His work has made an impact as of late in our world of literary small press publishing, most notably at The Rumpus, McSweeneys (where he works as a designer) and the new food quarterly, Lucky Peach. I dig the overall vibe of enthusiasm, delight and unpretentious excitement permeating Walter’s work.

I had a chance to speak with Walter over Gchat about his work, where he gleans inspiration from and the perils of working in an office with x-acto knives and water coolers.

Annalemma: So how’s your day going? Can you talk about what you’re working on?

Walter Green: Sure, my day’s going well! I’m a designer at Mcsweeney’s publishing in San Francisco, and there are a lot of little branches that go along with that and a lot of different hats to wear, etc. So today, I’m working on designs for a few of our magazine/quarterly type projects, mainly this thing called Lucky Peach, which is our new food quarterly with David Chang. Besides that, I do interior design of books, book covers sometimes, book ads, press releases, and lots of little things. But today, mostly editorial design for this food magazine. Also, I am the DJ.

A: That’s amazing. So how’d you land this job?

WG: Well, I interned there a while ago, and never really did a lot of design stuff. I had the desire to do design but no experience really. So I did some things for free for my friend’s bands or their business ideas and what have you, and kind of amassed a little portfolio. Then I moved to New York for a while and helped out at a small but fertile design studio and made my portfolio a little stronger. And when I eventually moved back to San Francisco, I started doing some freelance design and that seemed to work out okay for us all. So after a while they asked me to be a junior designer and I quickly said yes!

A: That’s rad, I have to say I’m really jealous.

WG: Well, it’s fun but often really tough and exhausting.

A: About five years ago I was obsessed with McSweeneys.

WG: Then what happened!

A: I started getting more and more involved with the publishing world, started digging deeper, seeing what was out there, seeing all the presses that were doing cool stuff. I still love what y’all do, but my focus is spread out so far now.

WG: Sure, of course!

A: I thought McSweeneys was the only game in town worth a shit, for a long time.

WG: How long has Annalemma been going on for?

A: We’ve been putting stuff out for four years. But I always looked to McSweeneys for design inspiration, so when I heard you were a designer there I was immediately curious about what that’s like.

WG: Well, it’s fun and exhausting as I said. It’s a two-person design team, essentially. There’s me (I think I’ve dropped the junior from my title now) and an amazing art director named Brian Mcmullen. So we do the bulk of the work, with other people helping out when they need to. Everyone here has some idea of how to work indesign/photoshop/what-have-you.

A: I’ve always been blown away by the ambition and scope of the design work. Where does the driving force come from to make things look so good?

WG: Well, I can’t say for sure for everybody else here. We’ve never sat down and had a real conversation about why we make things look the way we look. Why not put some effort in to make something look good if you can? I guess you could also say that we like to make our things look the way they do in hopes that people will buy them, read them, keep them, etc.

Also, just on a personal level, I think we’re all very interested in trying out new things and new ways to present content, just to keep things fun for us. By the way, the design of your magazine is incredible. The clarity of design is really inspiring. KUDOS, is all!

A: Thanks man, I wish I could take credit for that, it’s all my designer Jen O’Malley, she’s really talented. She comes up with a lot of the ideas, I’m more of the philosophy guy in the background trying to make sure that nothing looks like it’s a part of disposable culture, trying to make it something that people will want to keep around for a long time.

But enough about me, how long have you been drawing?

WG: Since I was a small child, I guess. Though there are always long periods of inactivity–even today–when I don’t draw for the longest time and end up sort of completely forgetting how it’s supposed to be done.

Yeah, it’s tough to talk about drawing. I’m not very good at it, but it’s somehow become a part of what I do, just because I’m so interested in it. I wish I could be the kind of person where my brain and my hand are totally connected and I can draw whatever I can imagine. But it’s probably just not in the cards for me, so in my illustrations that I work on today, I don’t rely on the regular stuff that actual talented artists use. I’m kind of just grabbing whatever is around and throwing it all together and hoping that something sticks I’d say I’m more of a DESIGNER-ILLUSTRATOR than a straight-up-drawing-dude.

A: I like how you incorporate your drawings into your design work though. I’m cruising around on your site here and all your work at first glance just looks like it’s a lot of fun. Like fun to read, fun to work on.

WG: Yeah, I guess being even slightly talented at illustration is a huge boon to the kind of design work that I want to do, so I’m able to fill in holes where necessary in my design and it’s good to not have to rely on an illustrator.

A: What are some design resources that pump you up? What are the daily places you go to that are doing good work?

WG: Hey, hold on a second!!! “BRB”

A: k

WG: SORRY! people are looking for x-acto knives.

A: No problem.

WG: I like to visit that site for a lot of incredible vintage/classic/bizarre/whatever design work. I like to visit the sites of other designers I like. but mostly I like going into Dog Eared Books near my office here and obnoxiously browsing their covers! And a lot of inspiration comes from the people I worked with/have worked with/the work they’ve done.

A: Who are the designers you’re a fan of?

WG: I’ll forget people but some of my favorites are: Paul Sahre, Leanne Shapton, Rodrigo Corral, Paul Buckley, John Gall, and the aforementioned Brian McMullen.

There are a lot more who have sites that I’ll check out, but it probably means something that those are the first names I think of when asked about designers I like.

A: Yeah, first impulses are usually the best. Like I was saying before, I’m really digging the work on your site cause it all looks fun, how do you maintain that attitude? My designer and I can work on something for days and weeks and sometimes it can be hard to keep fresh eyes about it. I guess I’m asking what drives you, what do you want the audience to feel most of the time?


WG: Hey sorry I was absent, I was changing the water cooler

A: Sounds busy there today : )

WG: I guess as a designer/illustrator I am going on a project-by-project basis. Some things that are, you know, more light-hearted and fun can be appropriate for some silly colorful hand-lettering, while other projects call for a more serious illustration/type treatment/design treatment/what- have-you.

Mostly, I’m hoping that the design can reflect the content in some way. That’s when it comes to editorial design/cover design/illustration and stuff. As for, how to maintain a happy and fun feeling while designing, I’m not sure that it’s possible all the time.

There’s definitely a large part of what you were saying earlier in what I do, where I’ll start a project and think it’s the greatest thing in the world. You know, ten weeks later, it’s hell. And I hate the whole thing, and I still have to carry on the fun feeling.

A: Haha, yeah when the excitement wears off.

WG: Yeah, definitely. But, I guess I’m lucky in that the littlest things are able to bring me design-excitement, something as simple as just changing one color to a design I’m “tired” of can make me love the project all over again, sometimes. And it’s also good that at my job, I have a wide range of things I can work on, so I can put projects down, and pick them up later and my hatred for them has died down.

A: Haha

WG: And I start to remember them fondly. And even miss them a little bit.

A: I hear that, I keep trying to do that, look at things from a different perspective in order to see it in a new way. I do that a lot with writing, like a story might not be working at all and it’s complete shit in my mind but something will click, like I need to change the perspective from third to first and everything will come together. I love it when those breakthroughs happen.

WG: Yeah, of course, little things like that that bring a clarity to the whole thing and can sort of show you the light at the end of the tunnel are the greatest.

A: So what’s the next release we should look out for? What’s good on the McSweeneys roster?

WG: Welp, I’ve been doing a little more editorial illustration work for a few different clients and that’s been fun. I do a weekly illustrated column for the bay citizen (a nice journalistic website focusing on the bay area) where I review different events that happen. So tomorrow I’ll be going to some sort of yard sale and then drawing the people I see there.

Beyond that, I’m mostly focusing on this food quarterly thing here that is shaping up to be great. This is the second issue, so we’re gonna be able to tighten up everything a bit from the slightly loose style we established in the first issue. And that’s fun because I’m able to do hand-lettering, or type design, or chalk drawings, or vector illustrations–just whatever the articles call for.

A: That’s cool.

WG: Yeah, beyond that, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to give the secret scoop on whatever stuff Mcsweeney’s is doing. But I can say that whatever it is, we’ll be trying to make it look nice!

A: Awesome, well, I can’t wait to see it whatever it is. Thanks for talking to me, Walter.

WG:  Hey thanks for thanks for letting me do some work for your recent issue! I loved that story.

A: I’ll get that mag out to you soon, I spilled a big cup of water on a stack of personalized thank-you letters to contributors I was sending out with mags and I’ve been putting off rewriting them so I think that’s why you haven’t got yours yet.

WG: Gotta hate those big cups of water! No worriez!

A: Cool man, well thanks again and I’ll be in touch.

WG: NICE! Talk to you later bud! We’re CHAT-PALS NOW!

A: Haha, indeed we are, talk to you soon.

Click here to check out Walter’s work appearing in Annalemma Issue Eight: Creation.

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Thursday, September 1st

Jon MacNair.


Check out illustrator and Issue Eight: Creation contributor, Jon MacNair. Jon provided some beautiful illustrations for the story “City” by Paul Kavanagh, wherein a couple moves away from the city to the country and brings all their city folk problems with them and, boy, does badness ensue.

MacNair’s got a fanciful style, imbuing his work with tons of heart and soul. And it looks like he’s having a great time doing it too. Also, check out his blog where he’s recently posted some images of Issue Eight along with big versions of his work appearing in the issue. Thanks Jon!


Tuesday, August 16th

‘Sweet jewel, bro’: An interview with Blake Butler.

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{image by Anastasia Mouyis, excerpted from the essay “I Tried Really Hard to Play” appearing in Annalemma Issue Eight: Creation}

Chances are you know who Blake Butler is. He’s published fiction in nearly every lit magazine online and in print, he’s editor at HTMLGiant, and in April he released a new novel, There is No Year, on Harper Perennial. This interview doesn’t have much to do with those things.

Blake’s mainly known for his fiction but I’d been enjoying the nonfiction essays he posted on HTMLG, a lot of them having to do with art and life. I saw them as much more tempered, quiet and reflective than the intricate and mind-bending language he used in his fiction writing. The essays were like messages written in the dark, to be found by people also in the dark. So I asked Blake to write some nonfiction for Issue Eight: Creation and he came back with a piece about making up a role playing game while on a beach vacation with his family as a child.

We talked on Gmail chat about a lot of the ideas he brings up in his essay: role playing games (RPGs), meticulous obsession, solitude, art, writing, publishing, the purpose of playing games and, of course, creation.

Blake Butler: Hey Chris, I’m here whenever.

Annalemma: Hey man, you cool to do this now?

BB:  Totally.

A: Righteous. I’m totally unprepared, but I think that’s okay, let’s just start with RPGs. I don’t really know anything about RPGs, how would you describe them?

BB: I think my experience with RPGs is totally different than people who would actually talk about them, since I never had anyone to play with. I just kind of was tagging along in my brain with the idea but ostensibly they are games based on rules and numbers and you fill in the blanks but with nerd shit only.

A: Haha. So would Magic: The Gathering or Dungeons and Dragons be the main examples of what an RPG is?

BB: I guess the more traditional idea of an RPG is the D&D style, before computers could do interesting things with the format. Magic is more of an actual game game, cuz you are much more governed by the pre-established rules. Like in Magic, the innovation comes from finessing what is already set up as defined, because there are only so many cards and you can’t make up your own (unless you rule and play with people who make up their own, though that probably almost never happens). Whereas D&D kind of gives you a structure, how to define the world yourself, and lets you explore that world based on how you set it up, if still with certain concrete format ideas. I never really played real ‘d&d’ I just read the manuals and wished I could and pretended like I was playing with people and then I played like PC games like Might and Magic II and stuff that were more like video games, Final Fantasy style.

A: I’m familiar with Final Fantasy, I had a buddy who became obsessed with it. I could never get behind it though. It took too long to tell your character what to do and then have him execute a move. I guess I never understood the appeal.

BB: Yeah, I wasn’t really into those kind of games either. The path you had to execute to complete the game was too linear. I liked PC games where there were things you had to do to move forward, like goals that gave you certain rewards, but really you could just spend all day wandering around killing shit and exploring and never get anywhere real and still have fun and the game could go on forever until you died.

A: I think I saw something on facebook where you were talking about playing Magic online. I also know nothing about the Magic games except that I see people in the coffee shop playing it all the time. Is that a game you play alone? Or can you go online and play with other folks?

BB: In the flesh you can really only play with at least one other person, though I think I remember when I was a kid someone invented a solitaire version, though that seemed a stretch. And you could be so lame as to have two decks and play yourself, which would be about as effective as playing yourself in chess. Though I can’t say I didn’t do that a few times. And yeah you can play online. It’s super addictive there since you don’t have to find other freaks willing to play a child’s game as an adult

A: Haha.

BB: I quit playing online though because I was spending money to buy the same cards I had in real life and that seemed really idiotic. So now just hang with these three dudes and we drink beer and make fun of each other and play it, so it’s not so serious. Though we did make a trip to a local comic store a few months ago and that was fucking weird… I beat the owner of the store in my first match and he was literally talking to me in third person and also as if I wasn’t actually there while his weirdly hot asian wife stood watching him rubbing his shoulders until she realized he was losing and then she went in the back of the store to go to sleep.

A: Oh my god, you went to the nerd kingdom and slayed the nerd king. Well done, dude.

BB: Haha, yeah, makin’ nerds sweat.

A: I think I read an interview with you where you talked about all the lit mags you submitted to when you first started out and you equated it to a sort of game. What is it with writers and games? I think it has something to do with our brains being wired for obsessive and compulsive behavior, what do you think?

BB: Yeah it’s definitely compulsive to me. Makes it more of a palpable goal-oriented thing, which can be good for someone who is competitive in general because the whole writing thing is so abstract and aimless when it comes to the supposed ‘business’ side need(ing) a target or something. Like, I want to slay Black Warrior Review with my two handed broadsword.

A: Haha.

BB: So I will fashion a broadsword, then I get this little jewel to stick in my Inventory screen when I do slay it. ‘Sweet jewel, bro.’

A: Haha. I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea lately, and I think it’s the root of a lot of frustrations for writers and artists, in general: Creating art is such a subjective thing that there’s no one’s ever going to be able to say “This is a definitively good story.” Or “This is how you write a good story” cause different people like different things. It’s not like business or sports or video games where you meet certain requirements and with a little bit of luck you are successful. It’s just this shapeless blob that you keep trying to throw things at hoping they stick. What do you think about that?

BB: Right, I think ultimately continuing to throw things at things is the key, and if pretending you are fighting wizards while doing so helps you do that, that’s cool. I think if you start to take that whole side of the process too seriously it will eat you alive and make you question yourself to death, and really it’s all just tiny items in the first place. The point is to keep moving and having fun and making shit that you feel is getting somewhere as a creation, and some things fail and some work and that’s all good process.

Hopefully you get to a point where you make something that you feel proud of and that you remember in a way that feels warmish if even ultimately whatever. Like the way I think about my time spent playing Might and Magic 2.

Because I think no matter what sticks on the outside, wherever you publish it, it’s all going to feel like shit if you haven’t spent that kind of time inside it where it feels like a place you were, rather than this weird object. But then sometimes it’s fun to just have some weird little objects you fuck with too. It comes together weirdly.

A: I think I know what you mean, like it would truly be wasted time if you beat a piece of writing out (that) you didn’t give a shit about or it wasn’t a part of you, but it fit perfect with this mag or that mag. More quality time would have been (spent) with something that’s more of a reflection of who you are as a person.

BB: Right, or that messes you up or makes you feel excited in some way at least. As a publisher it’s probably pretty easy to tell when someone is just dialing it in I think, yeah?

A: Oh hell yes. And 90% of the people are dialing it in. Or they just don’t know how to get in touch with that core of themselves yet. They’re still working through shit.

BB: Right, they might not even realize they are dialing it in.

A: Which is not a big deal, you have to start somewhere. But I really wish people would have some sort of idea of what’s publishable and what’s not. Exercise a little filtering, you know?

BB: Right, the rush to publish is definitely not the best. I mean, I understand it, I was hungry the instant I started writing too. But the more you throw away, the better you get, and the better it is when you start to put shit out there.

A: Right, I mean, I can’t really relate to that impulse to submit to 1000 different places, maybe because I’ve been editing longer than I’ve been submitting so I know the other side of it. But I’m very aware that most of the stuff I write should never be read by anyone but me.

BB: I definitely had the itch early on, because anything I do I tend to do compulsively. But I was lucky in that I pretty much came out of the gate trying to write novels, and you can’t really half-assedly publish a novel, or it’s much harder to anyway. So my first 4 or 5 things I wrote were novels that all got ultimately canned, and I learned from them without anyone really seeing what I was doing besides the agent I lucked into early on, poor guy.

A: Haha, I think that’s the beauty of writing as opposed to, like, stand-up comedy, no one has to see you bomb if you don’t want them to. But, I really like the idea of finding a (publication) you like and making something specifically for them. I try to do that and I like when people do it for me.

BB: Totally. You have to know who you are sending to, especially when it comes to short things. And the more in tune to that you are, the better it works for both sides

A: Right, to me that’s much more productive. So I once played video games for 36 hours straight, what’s your longest go?

BB: Ha damn, what were you playing? I really have no idea what my longest would be. Probably not very long, though I would sometimes play whole seasons of Baseball Simulator 3000 for Nintendo, which would take a long time. I doubt anywhere near 36 hours though. I tend to get bored with most games and want to turn it off.

A: I’m the kind of gamer where I buy one game a year and I don’t stop playing until I beat everything. I think it was something stupid like Crash Bandicoot or Ratchet and Clank for PS2.

BB: Do you drink mountain dew or something or would you lose track of time?

A: It’s just like, “I have to do this thing and I’m not going to be okay until I do this thing.” Same thing with all addiction. I’ve really had to temper down the game playing in the last few years, I keep it cool with some Wii sports when friends come over. Do you think playing games is a waste of time?

BB: I mean, fucking off is good. And I think you learn some kind of weird skill set or understanding maybe from games that let you dig into worlds. I feel like my understanding of how things work is furthered by having pushed Mario down tunnels into other rooms and eaten coins and shit. It’s good to interact with fantasies that have maps and secrets. The sports crap is probably just a waste maybe, but stats have secrets too, and so do memorizing weird button arrangements. So it’s probably got some push to it, though I have a hard time playing as an adult since I mostly feel I’ve gone through all that and now I’m just like squirting. But squirting’s i-ight.

A: Haha, I hear you. It’s like if you come out the other side and you get something out of it then it’s never wasted time. I think that’s a good place to call it, unless you got anything else on your mind.

BB: I think we did good.

A: Yeah man, this was fun. I’ll let you know when it goes up.

BB: Definitely. thanks man, was good to chat.

A: For sure, I’ll be in touch. Did you get that mag yet btw?

BB: I dont think so? No.

A: Okay, I put it in the mail last week should be there soon. Lemme know if it doesn’t show.

BB: Yeah my mailperson sucks. I’m sure it will. Excited to check it.

A: Yeah, I think it turned out good. Aight man, I’ll be in touch.

Click here to check out Blake’s essay in Issue Eight: Creation.

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Tuesday, July 19th



{photos: Tim Schreier}

We (us, Avery Anthology and La Petite Zine) had a big old time at BookCourt here in Brooklyn a couple weeks back.


A lot of friends came out and showed their friendship publicly. It feels good when this happens. If you’re somebody’s friend you should make it public.


Shooting the breeze with BC manager, Zack Zook. That dude is the dude.


Avery Anthology editor and all-around good human, Adam Koehler.


The great thing about BookCourt is they do a lot of fantastic events, which brings folks in the door and then they gravitate to the beautiful shelves. Hopefully this gets them to buy books cause this place is incredible and it needs to be around for a long time.


The Avery folks brought some original art produced for their seventh issue by Abi Daniel.


The lit mag crew.


Melissa Broder and Dan Lichtenberg from La Petite Zine, they read some fantastic poems from LPZ’s new issue, The Broom.


It’s a bold move to hold a release party for a online mag, all alone up there without a book to hide behind. Mel and Dan are brave.


Avery editor, Issue Seven: Creation contributor, and razor sharp talent =  Nicolette Kittenger.


Avery #7 contributor Jason M. Jones.


Avery editor, Stephanie Fiorelli champions Abi Daniel’s artwork.


Avery #7 contributor Robert Yune.


Adam Koehler pumps up Avery #7. You should check it out, it looks damn good.


Avery #7 contributor Kurt Scott, also finalist for Avery’s Small Spaces Fiction Contest, judged by Junot Diaz (I cannot get over that). Kurt read a great piece about picking up girls in a club, or keeping away from skeezy dudes, whichever way you want to look at it.


Annalemma Issue Seven: Enduarance contributor and indie lit powerhouse Sal Pane represented Anna that night.

I read this piece from Issue Eight: Creation.

Sal read this piece about Alexey Pajitnov, creator of Tetris.

Thanks everyone for coming out!

Thursday, July 14th

Anne Elizabeth Moore Interview.

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Author, editor and activist Anne Elizabeth Moore dropped me an email a few months back and told me about the LADYDRAWERS project, an exhaustively researched graphic essay series focused on gender inequalities in the comic book publishing world, working with (and from) interviews with Alison Bechdel, Ariel Bordeaux, Lynda Barry, Julie Doucet, and other comics artists you have and haven’t heard of before. The series had already run in Bitch, Tin House, Women Comics Anthology and was soon to be a monthly column at She asked if I wanted to run an installment in the new issue of Annalemma. I said hell yes.

A few weeks later, Anne delivered the the latest installment illustrated by Susie Cagle and I was shocked at the stats brought forth in the essay. Let’s just say it’s a lot worse than you think.

Anne is the author of Unmarketable (The New Press) and was the founding series editor of the Best American Comics (Houghton Mifflin). She received a Fulbright this year for her work on global media and youth culture in Cambodia. Her book Cambodian Grrrl is forthcoming in September from Cantankerous Titles.

We had a chance to speak over email last week. If you’d like to check out, Where the Girls Aren’t, latest installment of the LADYDRAWERS project click here to pre-order Annalemma Issue Eight: Creation.

ANNALEMMA: I was listening to the Matthew Filipowicz show and you said the idea for the LADYDRAWERS project started while you were on tour with Harvey Pekar promoting the Best American Comics series when a group of male fans crowed the stage to get Pekar’s autograph, subsequently shoving artist, Esther Pearl Watson, off the stage. Was this the breaking point for you? What other events leading up to the project inspired it?

ANNE ELIZABETH MOORE: No—they were male cartoonists. Really smart, strong, talented, kind people who would also consider themselves feminists. That’s the thing, and it happens everywhere, not just in comics: dudes shutting women out completely by accident, even when they would claim, otherwise, to be supportive of diversifying their own areas of interest. I had experienced that personally a zillion times, but this was different because I could see, objectively, how completely accidental it all was. So I guess this incident wasn’t so much the breaking point as the first time I had someone else to talk to about how deeply embedded regressive gender norms are in this field that’s supposedly about opening up the potential for communication.

Up to that point, I was only experiencing this stuff from the receiving end—getting silenced, many times quite deliberately, by male creators who dominate the field. But here it was like, I was in a position of authority, and I respected everyone there. This was my book, and I’d established a structure for these events that was deliberately inclusive of women artists, and had made a point of openly addressing this: I saw the Best American series not just as a way of celebrating amazing work but reestablishing a center for comics, like, reevaluating the different directions the field could move in. I think that’s why people are still buying that first book, it was a really exciting idea both Harvey and I embraced. And there it was, a talented female creator getting silenced in my presence at my event by other people who totally respected her. That’s when you know there’s a problem significantly larger than one person can change.

A: The scope of the project is pretty impressive, seeing that you’ve published installments in a range of different magazines and now lead a class on the issue. How does the university class fit into the project?

AEM: Well, I have these vague research ideas and then I work them in a milion different directions at the same time, that’s just sorta how I do things. As I say I’ve been collecting anecdotes related to gender and comics over my twelve-or-so years in the field, but having this shared crazy experience with Esther meant we could chat over ideas and ways of representing and addressing them. After that, I started doing some polling and collecting data from women and trans people in the field, and then pitched this class in the Visual Critical Studies and Art History departments at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and that’s been running for two years. The students sort of help me sort out different ways of gathering information around hidden bases of knowledge, and then we research, collaboratively.

Last semester we had a really incredible class that ended with us wanting to share our research with the publishers directly, and the postcard project came out of that. This summer was the first time we got to work together and look at that data in a studio course—make art out of it. Of course Esther came with me and we spent a couple weeks at art camp, basically out in the woods, making super crazy gender and media theory comics. It was the funnest thing ever. We put together a handbound anthology, Unladylike, that is smart and fun and gorgeous. Working with students on these issues has been the funnest part of this project. Everyone goes into those classes super bummed about institutionalized sexism, really feeling at the mercy of it, YES even the dudes, and then they leave the class with facts, strategies, experience, and a sense of humor that they can apply not just to comics but to the other fields they work in—video games, journalism, art, theory, etc.

I’ve also been pulling in these other artists and asking them to work with me on parts of the big picture that maybe they relate to more closely. That’s sort of the above-board aspect of this work, and the Annalemma piece was a part of that, and also a bimonthly column for Truthout that just launched. Work like this—media-based, anti-oppression work—it just takes a lot of different approaches, each of which serve a consistent reminder that stuff needs to change, not once, but every damn day. Plus that these regular outlets serve to establish a forum for young creators that will be there when students enter the field—my own students, and the students I speak to when I lecture elsewhere—that’s really important. That means, you know, we’re not complaining about a problem, we’re developing shared vocabulary about one that we are also changing at the same time.


Panel from “Gender and Comics Potluck,” Esther Pearl Watson and Anne Elizabeth Moore, Bitch Winter 2011

A: Installments of this project frequently reference the now-famous VIDA numbers where it was pointed out the literary publishing community operates with a strong bias towards publishing and promoting the writing of men. What the VIDA numbers didn’t address was how women are portrayed in writing. The LADYDRAWERS project attempts to tackle the issue of how women are portrayed in comics, as well as the issue of how many women are employed/published by the industry. Which is more important to you?

AEM: Yeah—I think that’s a more relevant issue in comics than elsewhere, basically because the ways that women are portrayed do, we know from studies and from anecdotes, turn off both readers and creators, and both women and trans people, but also other people who are just gender aware. So content matters in some fundamental way right now across comics more so than literature in general. But the important things for me are establishing these issues as labor issues, because that’s where most of the laws that govern these fundamental concerns are made tangible. It’s one thing, in other words, when a comic shows a lot of gratuitous naked boobies, but it’s another thing when a comic-book publisher is committing gender-based discrimination or sexual harassment to do so. One’s annoying, the other is legally actionable.

A: The interesting/confusing thing about the bias towards men in the lit publishing world is that influential positions within the industry (editors, publicists, PR people, etc.) are dominated by women. The opposite is true for comic book publishing. One of the more interesting stats you provided in the Where the Girls Aren’t was that of the 1,112 jobs in comic book publishing, 85.43% of those jobs went to men. Why do you think all these jobs are going to men?

AEM: Women totally “dominate” literary publishing, it’s true, and that’s really important to point out. These problems, of inequity and gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment, exist everywhere, but really flourish in comics, which are traditionally seen as underground and alternative, but also informal and unregulated and slightly outside the law. So that situation in literary publishing that still allows men to receive most of the slots available for creative work, and therefore most of the income that supports that as a career, that’s just more tangible in comics. Comics are a form of media, which should be beholden to the same principles other media in the US should be held to, that it represent readers, that it remain open to new participants, that it engage in an active relationship with the world. Why it doesn’t happen in the literary world is how institutional sexism plays out: small decisions, made every day, supposedly automated by policy and technology and language and standard modes of operation that very, very slightly are also discriminatory. It’s much more obvious why this doesn’t happen in comics because we can trace all the players. Why do they hang out with? Who do they model business practices on? Who do they drink with? Who do they work with? Who do their creators recommend? What does the content of their work show that their website’s “About Me” page doesn’t? That’s what institutionalized oppression is: the thousands of tiny decisions that collectively favor one group of speakers/decision-makers at the expense of others.

A: What do you say to the argument that gender inequality in the comic book world is symptomatic of a larger patriarchal system that favors men over women? Why go after the comic book industry for catering to men? Does it ever feel like there’s bigger fish to fry?

AEM: Well, sure, it’s symptomatic of a larger problem, and the next level up of it is referred to as “a patriarchal system,” but the big picture here is pure capitalism. This work closely examines one of the very jarring but popular ways that capitalism operates, every day, that we don’t notice. It points to some negative effects for creators, for readers, and for democracy in general. It presents a few obvious solutions, and opens up more questions within those, all backed up with a real and newly collected data pool to which hundreds of people (or more) are contributing to around the country in the direct hope to change something that they aren’t wholly comfortable with. If there’s a bigger fish to fry than the daily, grinding, unseen, negative effects of capitalism, I don’t know what it is.

A: Can you give us a reading list of titles that are doing things right? What are some good reads written by women and/or feature strong female leads?

AEM: I can’t. This is a deeply embedded issue, and it’s been going on for a long time. We simply haven’t seen very many women, trans, and queer creators besides those that everyone already knows about (who ARE great) flourish, and until there are a plethora of non- straightwhitemale types reinventing what language could be in comics I refuse to forward single names or publishers. I should also say, though, that I’m pretty selective about who I collaborate with on the literary and journalistic strips, so everyone I’ve worked with on the BITCH, TIN HOUSE, ANNALEMMA and TRUTHOUT pieces make great fucking work, and I literally have hundreds more underrepresented women, trans and queer creators lined up to work with in the coming months. There’s still room for more though so if you make comics, and you are awesome, and we are not already working together, send me your stuff at


Monday, July 11th



We got Issue Eight: Creation back from the printer and it’s a damn peach. Check out some beauty shots of what’s in store for you if you pre-order. This dreamboat is shipping This Friday, July 15th. Pick it up. Keep your eyes peeled later this week for more info on this issue. Oh yeah, and if you order now you get $5 off the cover price. Offer ends Friday!