MOME Interview 3: Kurt Wolfgang

gg: So you moved from a pen to a brush.

kw: [Apologetic] Yeah, from a rapidograph to a brush, so it wasn’t as if I had any sort of technique with variation other than pretty much trying to emulate the brush strokes by drawing them in.

gg: Why did you do that?

kw: ‘Cause I looked at the work that I liked, and I saw things that could be done that I wasn’t able to do. And it’s that thing, you want to be a real cartoonist. You want to be for real. And it wasn’t until I started making, doing wordless stuff that I felt like I was really doing anything worthwhile, that I really want to take this seriously. Prior to then, it was a hobby in every sense, because I wasn’t really pouring anything meaningful in it.

And when I started making these different kind of stories, elements would surface in them that (I’m trying to say this without sounding like a pretentious wad) little mirrors, you know, of my own life and my own experience would pop out from these stories and it began an entirely different thing. My work was telling me more than I was telling it. I don’t know if that makes any sense.

{mosimage}When I was making all these wise-ass things, you’re pouring all this you into it to show everybody how clever you are, how funny you are, look at me, look at this silly or gross or outlandish thing. And when I started telling a certain kind of story, things came back at me, where it’s me, there’s no way to say this [laughs] without sounding really hippy-dippy, but I really started to learn things about myself and comics for me became more of a conversation with myself that other people enjoyed eavesdropping on than me talking to other people. Does that make any sense at all?

gg: Yeah. I’d love to have you elaborate on that. Did that process of discovery start with your wordless comics?

kw: Maybe it was letting my own guard down with myself, because in the process of trying to be a funny and cool and… and maybe that’s what it is, maybe it’s just telling a story and drawing upon real life experiences and real feelings and putting that into it rather than showing everybody what kind of person you are, convincing them what kind of person you are. You just say, “Fuck it,” and you tell a story with that sort of freedom and, obviously not careless, but carefree sort of way, not concerning yourself with how this is coming across, what it says about you.

gg: Another interesting thing is that in your piece in MOME #3, what I noticed was that you recycled part of a rant from No-Fie, except that you put it in an entirely different context, which was not the context of you screaming at the reader, but in the exchange between the two characters. And so that opened it up from a rant to a social exchange. Of sorts.

{mosimage}kw: What part in particular? Oh, probably about the “More Punk Rock Than Thou?”

gg: Yeah, yeah, which echoed one of your rants in No-Fie #5 or #6.

kw: Right, right. And that would make total sense.

gg: Of course, instead of just ranting, he was ranting to the girl, so there was an exchange.

kw: Right, right. Well, it makes sense I would do that too, you know, when you’re younger, you kind of define yourself by your tastes. You like this kind of music, you need to throw that out there so everybody knows what kind of badass Rolling Stones fan you are or whatever, like that somehow makes you something. And as we get older, well, we don’t need to put bumper stickers on our cars any more, we don’t need to wear that shirt with that brand on it because we don’t really care what you think of us any more. I think in art, you can’t do anything until you get to that point. I don’t think you’ll get anywhere if you worry about other people. You might be good at entertainment, and I’m not trying to cut that down in any way, but I’m not really looking at entertaining people as the primary purpose of me doing this. Mostly it’s totally selfish and self-serving.