Tuesday 5 August 2008

Melinda Gebbie interview [2]

Interview conceived by smoky man & Antonio Solinas.
Conducted via phone by A. Solinas on 19th February 2008.
Originally printed in Italy on Blue magazine (N. 189, May 2008, Coniglio Editore) on the occasion of the Italian edition of Lost Girls published by Magic Press.
Presented here in English for the first time.
Lost Girls orginally published by Top Shelf.

In the photo by Alan Light: Catherine Yronwode (left), Carol Lay (middle), and Melinda Gebbie on the right, at the Women In Comics panel at the 1982 San Diego Comic Con (today called Comic-Con International).

Melinda Gebbie interview [1]

10. The style you used in Lost Girls, in a way, mimics certain artists of the era, while still retaining a certain individuality. What was the rational approach to the artistic process?
First of all, I thought the most reassuring and warm and inviting way to illustrate the book, was to make it seem like it was a book for adults. The pictures were soft, with positive memories and there weren’t any sharp edges, or shades. You know, you want people to feel a sense of reverie and safety. I conjured up feelings of several different children books that I liked, you know, with a kind of a soft illustration style and, of course, with The White Book, they were all pastiches of well-known artists, so that introduced different styles, thinking mostly, I guess, of Alice and Dorothy’s art styles, because they are the softest. Alice’s are oval, like a pool of water, you know, the memory part, and Dorothy’s are kind of an American vista, and Wendy’s are like church windows, kind of rigid and outlined in black, not exactly threatening, but just encased in something as if, her personality is being kind of revealed in it, you know, English rigidity. There definitely was a kind of thinking behind how these things were registered, how people would take them in.

11. I don’t want to investigate into your personal life, but obviously this book was instrumental in your relationship with Alan. When did you realise that the book needed a sort of intimacy related to living in the same place?
Actually, it wasn’t quite like that. What happened was, he had to work quite hard at any one time on seven or even eight other projects, while he was working on Lost Girls as well, so he had a very, very rigorous schedule, and I needed time to work on Lost Girls. I lived in a different place than he did, and we got together three times a week and if we hadn’t lived separately, that wouldn’t have worked, because we both needed time alone. Being an artist was quite frustrating because, I mean, he was able to do so much work during that period, many different things, and I was only able to do that book. But I had to be able to keep that particular reverie that I needed, so, if we had been living together, I don’t think that it would have worked like that. I mean, we got together several times a week and we were very close, but of the work, we lived apart, and I think that was a very important and functional thing: that was part of the reason why I think it was successful.

12. And then what happened?
You mean after the book?

13. Well, obviously you got married, so something must have happened…
We lived together now, once the book was over and… I’ll tell you, one of the very important things about this, as well, is that we couldn’t afford to have arguments. We couldn’t ever afford to have an argument, because if we argued it would affect our relationship with the book, because… it just does. It was a real work of romantic alchemy, and like many romances, it kind of required that we, like our characters, would not settle, but were anticipating seeing each other, looking forward to seeing each other and being together. It constantly remained a romance that we anticipated.

14. Sorry, I thought that you moved in before the book was finished, I didn’t mean to be rude…
No, no, I don’t mind talking about this because I think the way people work on something like this, is useful to know…
He is working on this marvellous book now, and I have a studio in the back of the house. It has all worked out exactly as it should have.

15. Do you want to talk about your workspace, now that you mentioned it?
Well, it’s great! I have got two little skylights in the front, I like to do a lot of big paintings. I have got my paintings from when I lived in San Francisco, of which a friend of mine said, very kindly: “I have seen the future of psychedelic painting”. I am having a wonderful time with them.
I am also intending to write a book about my life in San Francisco, because I knew a lot of amazing people, fantastic people. I really want to be able to offer that the public, so these people get to be remembered, because they were fantastic. Some of them are gone, you know, some of them are still around. Life changes, everything changes.

16. Speaking about conventions, Alan is famous for not going to conventions anymore. Do you think he will ever change his mind?
Well, he did a signing for Lost Girls a couple of weeks ago at a comic shop in London that we are fond of, Gosh Comics, which is a personal favourite. I don’t know if he will ever do anything again, though, in public.

17. I would like to leave you with one last question. Do you want to tell us what the future holds for you in terms of your work and comics work in particular? As I said, I am doing a painting and I will do a book. As for comics work, Alan has asked me to illustrate a poem that he has written about William Blake, the English visionary. That’s as close to any comics that I can tell you about. I am doing a couple of illustrations for his Magic Book. Other than that, I haven’t really thought too much about any more comics. Perhaps, when I get my painting done, and I finish my book, if something comes along… I am not adverse to it, I just haven’t really thought too much about it.

18. I suppose you are going to be busy for quite a long time, with both the book and the painting…
Yeah, maybe (laughs).

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