Interview: Molly Crabapple Pt. 3 [of 3]

Categories:  Features, Interviews

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In this third and final part of our interview, the illustrator and Scarlett Takes Manhattan author talks about working for Screw Magazine, her fascination with New York history, and maps out her graphic novel dream project.

[Part One]
[Part Two]

Did you have any inhibitions early on,  in terms of drawing more adult subject matter?

Not really. One of my mom’s favorite artists was Aubrey Beardsley. I grew up obsessed with Aubrey Beardsley and Toulouse Lautrec, as kind of counter-cultural person. It didn’t seem terribly shocking to me. I’m also from New York City. I’m not from the Midwest.

A lot of people in this industry had early jobs at adult magazines and have since tried to sweep that part of their life under the rug as much as possible. You seem to have almost embraced that.

Well, I think there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Do you know Brad Holland? He’s considered to be one of the major illustrators of the last 20 or 30 years. He’s the head of the Illustrators Partnership of America. He’s gotten Rings of Honor from the Society of Illustrators. All of his first jobs were for Screw Magazine, and he’s kind of proud of it. It’s kind of like a badge of honor, working for dirty magazines, and I like that attitude. I think that it’s silly try to pretend that, from the womb you were doing prestigious high profile ad campaigns and postage stamps for the US government. Obviously you weren’t everyone’s done some sort of job—whether it was a job for a dirty magazine or a d-level movie—something silly. I think it humanizes you to do that.

Are you interested in doing works with a wider appeal?

I’ve done lots of stuff with broad appeal. I’ve done childrens books and the poster for this year’s MoCCA.

You’ve done children’s books?

Yeah.

What was that experience like?

It was fun. I like drawing detailed things. I had a guy who was doing a bunch of children’s books who liked my work. I think one of the problems with people—and this isn’t just for sexual subject matter, but I think it goes more so for that—is that, no matter what you do—they pigeon-hole you. My boyfriend does caricatures, right? For a while he was doing caricatures of sports stars and this company wanted to hire him to do caricatures of politicians, and they asked him, “can you draw politicans, because I’ve only seen you draw sports people.” And he was like, “what’s wrong with you? Clearly I can draw human faces.” And I feel like it’s the same with sexual subject matter. Clearly I can draw things. It just depends on what things I’m being paid for.

I know it’s probably the furthest thing from your mind right now, because you just finished one, but are you thinking of doing another comic?

If the right opportunity presents itself. Even though I talk about “slavery,” I really liked doing it. I love telling stories in that visual way, I love collaborating with John, I loved researching. One of the most rewarding things for me was reading a number of historians that I like. I love Luc Sante—he’s the author of Low Life. I think he’s a great. And I love Trav S.D, he’s the author of No Applause–Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous. It’s this brilliantly scholarly and poetic history of vaudeville. I think people don’t know a lot about historians, so one of the things that was really gratifying to me was giving all of my favorite historians little cameos in Scarlett. It was something that was really fun for me.

Would you be interested in doing something more non-fiction?

I think I would, provided that it was a non-fiction subject that I was interested in. I would love to do more things about the history of New York, I think that old New York was one of the most fascinating, ludicrous, bawdy, awesome places in history, ever. Here’s a theoretical magical graphic novel dream project—a graphic novel version of Low Life. I would kill myself enjoying it, because that was the most awesome thing, ever. I would love to do some non-fiction stuff like that.

–Brian Heater

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2 Comments to “Interview: Molly Crabapple Pt. 3 [of 3]”

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