Graphic Details: Interview with Miss Lasko-Gross
Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women is the first museum exhibit to explore this unique niche of autobiographical storytelling by Jewish women. The touring exhibit, sponsored by The Forward, features the work of 18 Jewish women artists. The Jewish Women's Archive is interviewing each of the artists about their work and their experience as a female, Jewish graphic artist.
This week's interview is with Miss Lasko-Gross, author of Escape from Special, based loosely on the author’s life growing up as a Jewish girl in the suburbs, and A Mess of Everything, a pseudo-sequel to her first book. Escape from Special was nominated for YALSA's 2008 Great Graphic Novel award and A Mess of Everything was named on of Booklist’s top 10 graphic novels of the year in 2010.
Q: How did you get into cartooning?
Miss Lasko-Gross: Like many cartoonists I started with clumsy imitations of work I admired (Tank Girl, Akira, Love And Rockets etc.) Then moved on to self publishing and distributing original comics, doing pieces for zines, anthologies and finally becoming a graphic novelist.
Q: How does your Jewish identity influence your work?
L-G: I don't know that it does, but in the auto-bio game having a genetic predisposition to being a neurotic mess doesn't hurt.
Q: Do you think the experience of being a cartoon artist is different for men and women?
L-G:The working process is the same, the only real difference is in getting over initial low expectations. I've noticed that sometimes if me and my husband introduce ourselves as cartoonists, all serious questions and conversation will be directed at him. But I personally don't feel discriminated against because it only happens when people haven't seen my art yet.
Q: Tell me about your piece in the Graphic Details exhibit. What's its story?
L-G: The Turd is taken from my graphic novel A Mess Of Everything. On the surface it's a scatalogical vignette about a public toilet that won't flush. The unspoken philosophical point is that while as a teenager all things can seem to be of epic importance, the perspective of adulthood reveals them to be non events (only funny anecdotes).
Q: What's next?
L-G: I'm currently working on Henni, an adventure story that uses the setting of an alternate dimension to explore the consequences of religious fundamentalism. Parts of Henni are available on the House Of Twelve app on Comixology.