Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Exhibitor: Suzanne Baumann

1) Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in Hamtramck, MI, a couple of blocks in from the Detroit border, and keep active in the cartooning and art scene that exists here. Five days a week I drive out to the suburbs to work as some sort of graphic designer/web developer hybrid. I’ve become interested in organic gardening in recent years and my backyard is covered in vegetables when it’s not covered in snow. Comic jams are my favorite sport.

2) Tell us about your comics.
They’re minicomics; mostly humorous, and the humor is usually a mixture of mundane and absurd, with lots of wordplay thrown in. Mostly. Usually. Three ongoing series have emerged over the years: As Eavesdropped, which is a collection of single-page comics based on overheard conversations; Turtleneck Boy, an anthology series open to all contributors as long as they include the title character in their submission; and The (x) of Ball Point, a sketchbook series I give away for free. In addition to these I’ve made tons of one-shot minis over the years. Whenever I have the time and an idea, I’ll make a minicomic.

3) How long have you been self-publishing?
Since 1995.

4) Why did you decide to start self-publishing your comics?
It wasn’t so much a decision as a revelation: “Really? I can print up my own comics and staple them together into a book and total strangers will buy and read them?” I like to make things, so I had no excuse not to do that.

5) Who are your main artistic influences--both in and out of comics?
I hate answering that question, because I’m influenced by everything; even things I don’t particularly like and wouldn’t want to recommend to others. If I had to narrow it down, though, I’d say the 20th century has made a big impact on my work.

6) What comics do you read?
Whatever makes its way into my hands, I read. I never really got into a regular comics-reading habit, but fortunately I accumulate a wide variety of good stuff at shows like SPACE; and through friends, colleagues, etc. It all goes on the pile and gets read by me eventually. Sean Bieri (fellow Hamtramck cartoonist) started a graphic novel book club last year, so now I’m actually reading them on a regular basis. I’m on my way to becoming a legitimate comics geek.

7) What are some of your favorite books? (the kind without pictures)
I’m especially fascinated with ephemera: magazines, textbooks, political books predicting all sorts utopian and dystopian scenarios that may or may not have come true… stuff that usually gets tossed out because it’s 20, 50, 100 years past its relevance. I read history books, too, but I really like augmenting that with the materials people were actually soaking in at the time.

8) Where did Turtle-neck Boy come from?
He came from a self-imposed deadline. I had jokes for a mini-comic scripted out, but no characters in mind for it. A comic convention was coming up fast and I wanted to have something new out, so I used myself for one of the characters and picked Turtleneck Boy (a random doodle from my sketchbook) to be my sidekick.
I didn’t want to give off the impression that Turtleneck Boy was a real guy, so I called him my imaginary friend on the cover. Then I decided that making up cartoon friends for myself was actually kinda sad, so at the last minute I added a page at the end saying “Turtleneck Boy can be your friend, too! Submit your own comic!” and people did, so now it’s an ongoing anthology series.
No one’s submitted a Turtleneck Boy origin story yet, so honestly I’m not sure where he really came from.

9) What’s in the water in Hamtramck ?
Hydrogen, oxygen, and other.

10) Will you have anything new for SPACE? Or are you working on anything new?
After a long absence, I’ve gotten back to the aforementioned Turtleneck Boy. Issue number six should be ready by SPACE, and hopefully a couple of free minis as well.

11) A chicken walks into a doctor’s office and says “_______________”.
“How can I get in on one of those health insurance coops I’ve heard so much about?”


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