It's hard to believe, but the Short Run Comix & Arts Festival is coming up in a few short weeks, on November 9th. As always, the festival will feature an array of exciting young artists from all over the world. A while back, I interviewed Jasiyot Hans Singh about his amazing poster for the Festival, and this week I exchanged emails with an amazing German cartoonist named Jul Gordon about her work and what she hopes to experience at her first Short Run. Gordon is charming and candid about her process and goals, and if you have any tips on Twin Peaks attractions, be sure to hit her up at the festival.
We're looking forward to seeing your work at Short Run! How did you get connected with the show?
Last January, I was one of the incredibly lucky 15 invited comic artists to Pierre Feuille Ciseaux near Angouleme, France. It is a comic residency - 15 artists draw a cooperative comic together for a week at a huge table at a lovely place in the countryside and present it at the Festival International de la Bande Dessinee in Angouleme afterwards.
It's organized by the Association CHIFOUMI. I met Anders Nilsen there — he was organizer and also artists in some of the past PFC meetings, and took part as an artist this time. He recommended my work to Kelly Froh of the Short Run Festival.
Have you been to Seattle before? If no, do you have any expectations of the city or hopes for your trip?
I have never been to Seattle before.
I love Twin Peaks and therefore I'm very exited about the invitation of the Festival to do a "Twin Peaks Road Trip“ on Sunday.
If I could stay longer, I would love to visit the National Parks for several days - or follow recommendations for beautiful places outside the city - but unfortunately, I can only stay for the time of the festival.
I hope I will meet someone who knows about interesting exhibitions or spots in the city. As the Festival organizers have been very friendly and helpful so far, I think I have a good chance.
Are there any artists you're excited to meet at the show?
I recently discovered Jasjyot Singh Hans's *Big Girls Book" at the Comic Festival in Hamburg, Germany. It's so cool and strangely drawn.
Generally I'm looking forward to discover lots of artists and publishers at the festival. And of course I am happy to meet Anders Nilsen again.
I love how creatively broad your work is. I don't think I could identify a specific style that you work in, because each of your comics look different from the others. Do you try to always come up with a new style with each strip, or does the style fit with each specific story you're trying to tell?
Thank you. I'm not sure how to answer this question. I don‘t think the comics look completely different from one another. I think I try something, and after it's done I am not happy with it and think I should try something else: for example, to use color after working with black and white, and vice versa. And often after a bit more time has passed, I look at something older and think it was not as bad as I thought.
And also it's somehow right that I try to fit the style to the thing I tell. For example in "The Parc" one of the characters, "Theresa“, lives in a place that looks like the biggest building in the world (a shopping mall in Chengdu, China). It stands in an abandoned park which resembles the gardens of the Habsburg dominions. Her place is full of antique expensive furniture — it's crowded and chaotic, but beautiful at the same time - and she is lethargic/depressed and tries to fend off her neurotic and sadistic brother who insists on lending money from her. Her room was one of the first pages I drew for this comic. I tried to combine the beauty and heaviness of her situation and how she feels. (It's page 47 in the linked PDF).
Or in "Do you tend to cry“, I tried to be strict about how the room is created, because it s a kind of stage. The characters are actors who perform an intimate play. I wanted to use as few lines as possbile to keep it clear and concentrated.
One of the things that Short Run told me they loved about you was the way your comics spill off the page: organizer Kelly Froh said you make 3D models of some of the sets of your comics, and that you're also telling some comic stories through textiles, which sounds amazing. I was wondering if you could share your theory of comics—when your comics move off of the paper, are they still comics? Or are they something new?
Actually, the spilling off the page has rather practical reasons: I decided to build the 3d model of The Parc to save time: It was important to me that the perspective and what is visible from which angle is correct. This was because I needed a reason to create some strength and inner logic in the drawings, and the most obvious reason is: this is how it's built, so this is how it's drawn.
After I spent a lot of hours trying to imagine what would be in this or that background from one perspective or another, I decided that I would be way faster if I just built the model in one day. It also helped to keep to the decisions I made - I would not forget them because of the model.
And yes: it saved tons of time. I wouldn’t say the model is a comic. It's a model of the scenery.
Concerning the textiles - I was looking for a way to present the comics in a way that seemed attractive to me in exhibitions. I thought it should be big and colorful and easy to carry. So far, I've only adapted panels of comics I drew before to present them in exhibitions. I haven't created a textile comic that stands for its own so far.
I love how in your work, the "camera" often pulls way back so we can see your character's full bodies, and the environment where those bodies are. There's maybe a little bit of loneliness in those panels, but also a feeling that the viewer has a kind of omniscience—that we can see everything, that there's nothing to hide. Often, a panel can at once make me feel like a character is very lonely while at the same time making me feel very affectionate toward her because she seems to be so vulnerable and open in her loneliness. Is it fair to say that alienation is a theme in your work? Do you feel compassion for your characters?
Thanks again! Although I would not say that there is nothing to hide. I'm interested in characters who think they have a lot to hide. I feel a mixture of compassion, hate, interest, affection, love - depends on the character. I don't feel very much affection for Emigrant P. in the beginning, for example. But in the end, somehow he deserves compassion because he is so lost even though he is a racist dumbass.
What work are you bringing to Short Run?
I will show some textiles of "Do you tend to cry?“ and a textile for a short comic about office work and prints of Emigrant P.
And I will read from an unfinished comic on Thursday evening. It's called "Route will be recalculated“ and I posted some pages on instagram as a sneak preview.
And I try to draw my dreams every morning and am about to prepare a book of them. I will bring the first prints of this long-term project, printed by Cold Cube Press.