MOME Interview 2: Gabrielle Bell

gg: What contemporary authors do you like? Or have you liked recently?

gb: Well, I just finished Jonathan Safran Foer’s new book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Very, very good. And I just read Life of Pi by Yann Martel, which is also a very, very good book.

gg: I just gave that to my kid.

gb: Oh, it’s so good. It’s so sweet. The fi rst part of it is really kind of boring, but the middle and the end really makes up for it. It’s such a really sweet book, especially for a kid.

gg: [Seagull noises can be heard.] Well, it’s interesting that you should say that. Are there seagulls floating around?


gb: [Apologetic] Yes.

gg: We’re going to have to make an MP3 out of this and maybe we’ll include it in the next MOME. It’s interesting that you said that there are so few comics that come up to the level of the kinds of novels you like, because we were saying that in the early ’80s and then alternative comics got a foothold. I think there’s a general consensus that now comics are starting to achieve that level of artistry.

gb: Yeah. That’s true.

gg: It’s also interesting that you’re a cartoonist and yet you’re still more seduced by novels than you are by “graphic novels.”

gb: Yeah. That’s kind of confusing because I draw so much. I can’t not draw. I read a lot, in the best way I can. But I don’t spend a lot of time looking at pictures or looking at graphic novels. But I don’t spend a great deal of time writing. I try to.

gg: You mean writing prose?

gb: Writing even for comics. I mean, when you’re drawing comics, when you’re making comics, it seems like 90 percent of the work is drawing. Which isn’t so good, because it makes you very strong as an artist and not so strong as a storyteller.

gg: That’s the danger. Right.

gb: But I’ve heard other… Like for example Ben Katchor. I’ve heard him say that he’ll spend a week writing the story and an afternoon or something drawing it.


gg: I think that must be unusual.

gb: Yeah. I go for a nice balance myself.

gg: You say you draw all of the time. I assume you don’t mean you draw comics all of the time?

gb: I kind of am. Yeah. It’s not as satisfying any more just to draw. It’s much more satisfying to draw in a comics form.

gg: Is that because you’re so oriented toward narrative?

gb: Yes. I think so. And also because I have a lot of comics to draw now. I don’t really have time to just draw.

gg: Does that mean you’ve suddenly sprouted with lots of stories that you didn’t have previously?

gb: No. I just have…

gg: So many commitments?

gb: Commitments. Yeah.

gg: Are you making your living drawing comics?

gb: Not really.

gg: So how do you make your living?

gb: Well, right now I’m living on savings. I saved up a lot of money last year and I’m just living off of it right now, just living very frugally. But I’m making a little money from comics as well. I don’t think I would be able to live off of it without supplementing it with savings. But I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.