Two-thirds of the way into my interview with Liz Baillie, a shouting match broke out in the Holiday Cocktail Lounge on St. Mark’s St. in Manhattan’s East Village. After 15 minutes, the incessant sound of the woman sitting directly behind us, banging a pair of wooden drumsticks against her table was enough to make a man seated nearby snap. Naturally, we both stopped the conversation for moment.
After a beat, Baillie turned to me and smile, “It’s a perfect environment for an interview with Liz Baillie.”
In this final part of our interview with the Sing Along Forever author, we discuss the impetus for Baillie’s Mini Comic of the Month Club, the author’s inability to write a short story, and oh yeah, there’s also some talk about a punk band from New Brunswick, New Jersey, whose name currently escapes me.
You were looking for a more creative way to distribute your books when you hit upon the idea for the Mini Comic of the Month Club. Had you tried more traditional approaches like publishers? Microcosm put out the My Brain Hurts book.
What’s funny is I didn’t even approach them for that. They asked if I wanted them to put my book out and I said, “sure! That’s convenient.” That’s why I did that. It’s not like I don’t want to work with publishers, but I have a hard time getting my shit together enough to put together a proposal. I’m not really good at that.
So your not averse to that idea?
No. I plan, when I get the time and the energy, to put together something for Freewheel, to try to get a publisher for that. The first issue is out right now, but I don’t think people know what it’s gonna be like—but I do. And I think it’s gonna be awesome [laughs]. It’s going to be a really cool young adult book. It’s one long story. But it’s going to eventually be a really strong departure from My Brain Hurts, because aspects of it are kind of fantasy. It’s more than just hoboes and runaway kids. It’s magical hoboes, kind of—without revealing too much [laughs].
So you just can’t do a short story.
To save my life, I can’t do a short story. Whenever I try to do one that’s less than six pages. It sucks. At least I think so.
And you can’t just do a set up and punchline strip.
No, not really.
You did a guest strip for us.
Yeah, I did it a really long time ago. It was a short story about when I barfed on Christmas. It was originally for an alternative Advent calendar. Someone had little comics folded up in it. it was kind of anti-Christmas.
But that doesn’t come naturally? Not the barfing…
The barfing comes naturally. But short form comes don’t come that easily to me, because usually when I come up with an idea, it takes time to execute.
In the interim between My Brain Hurts and the Comic of the Month Club, there was the Bouncing Souls book.
Yes. Sing Along Forever.
How long were you waiting to break that one out?
Well, the idea for it started in May 2008, when I had put in notice for my job. I was counting down the days and decided I had to celebrate in some way. I happened to see that the Bouncing Souls were playing the day after I quit my job. I had go. It was already sold out by the time I found out about it. So I had to go through all of this shit to get tickets. I literally had to meet a promoter in a dark alley. I tried every way to find tickets, but couldn’t get anything.
And then I get this email from someone that I don’t know, who I hadn’t been corresponding with, and all it says was, “do you still want tickets? Call me.” And then he call me on my cellphone, two seconds after I got the e-mail. I listened to the message. It said, “this is so and so. Do you want the tickets? Call me.” I had no idea how he got my information. I was like, “that’s weird,” but I had to get this ticket for the show, the next day. I called him and he had me meet him infront of Kellogg’s Diner in Williamsburg, which was closed at the time. And I was like, ‘I’m gonna get murdered.’ I eventually went down this desolate street and got the tickets from this guy at face value.
But, through a series of unfortunate events, I ended us missing the show, except for the last song. I just cried. But, on the way out, I ran into Microcosm, my book publisher. They were actually on tour with the band, which I didn’t know. After the show I was helping them take their stuff through the back door, and I had this pile of items in my box. I was kicking the door open and it kept slamming on me. Finally a guy with a hood over his face opened to door for me, and I looked at him and thanked him and it was Greg [Attonito] from the Bouncing Souls. I looked at him and was like “ablublbubla, thank you.” And then I ran off. Afterwards, I thought of the title Greg Attonito Touch My Box for a short comic.