MOME Interview 3: Kurt Wolfgang

kurt wolfgang: From the time I was born, I wanted to be a cartoonist, once I found out there was a thing called a cartoonist and he drew pictures and got paid for it. And I think I just kind of gave up on that somewhere along the way, it just kind of faded out. To me, you did Garfield or superheroes and that was it. It was at that point, my early 20s, when I decided that I wanted to be a cartoonist. I wanted to do this, I wanted to do it well, work at it. And then gradually I learned about different comics, started looking into the past and realizing that there was this amazing wealth from years and years ago.

gary groth: You said you started sending your minis out in ’96; to whom would you send them?

kw: Oh, I sent them to Pete Bagge and Dan Clowes, just different people I was reading and enjoying. Then they all sent very nice, polite encouraging letters back. And I look back, and I just feel so foolish [laughs], when I think about what I sent them. [Groth laughs.]

I started a lot later than other people to actually just sit down and draw several hours at a time. I think I did a lot of my really embarrassing stuff in my 20s when I think a lot of people had knocked that out of the way in their teens. You go through this period, I think a lot of people do, where their comics, especially when you do humorbased things, or at least humortinted things, you have a whole lot of stuff you’re trying to get out at once. You’re trying to show how clever you are to the point where you make these comics where it’s just some guy running around narrating everything you hate in the world. You know what I’m saying? These clever wise-assy rant things, where it’s like you have all these good ideas, but you just want to get them out there to show the world how fucking clever you are, and I think I had to work through a lot of that before I could…

{mosimage}One day I actually just stopped and said, “Is this the kind of work I want to do?” And don’t get me wrong, I look back at a lot of that work and I enjoy some of it, but I really started to look at it. I looked at the kind of work I was enjoying, and seeing something meaningful, more substantial, I wasn’t making comics like that. I was making silly comics about how I feel about this, how I feel about that; silly mundane things.

gg: What year did you start publishing No-Fie?

kw: That would have been around, I’m guessing, ’95, ’96. I don’t know. I should probably have some of this material, on hand.

gg: I don’t have the first four issues. The fifth one is ’97.

kw: Oh goodness, you have that, huh? You know, most of the drawing that I had done through my 20s would be like drunk bar napkins and whatnot. And the first few issues of No-Fie were nothing more than, I would take illustrations that I was particularly fond of and I would loosely string them together with text to make up a kind of story. Like that’s how lame it was. But I think everybody has to go through that whole thing. Luckily, I didn’t go through it too publicly.

gg: [Laughs.] Right. What prompted you to publish your own comic?

kw: First I made it for my friends.