When you were travelling, were you searching for a place to stay, or were you enjoying being transient?
I was definitely enjoying being transient, to some degree. Things would fall through in one place, and I’d just be like, “yeah, okay, I’ll just go to the next place.” I’m incredibly lucky at finding places that are well suited to my living there. I guess it just seemed like I was never able to hold them for very long. It never got me down or blue. There was a time when I was like, “I’ve got to get out of this city, but it’s fine, I’ll find a place somewhere else that will work perfectly, at least for a little while.”
I started saying, “this is going to be the last one. I’ll live here forever!” And it was always a total joke. I’d live there for three months, and then some kind of disaster would happen [laughs]. I followed a string projects, too. People would be like, “oh, if you move to New York, you can live with me and do this,” or “if you move to L.A., you’ll have something to do.
It sounds like you had a pretty good built-in network before moving to these cities. Is there a difference in terms of how welcoming the comics, zine, and art communities are when you move to a new city?
In the cities I lived in, they all kind of run into each other, in these weird ways. A friend of mine, Jen Smith, has this expression. You ask “how do you know this person,” and it’s “through gay.” I definitely felt like everywhere I moved, there’d be someone I’d heard of, and I could be like, “I’ve heard of you!” and they’d be like, “I’ve heard of you!” And hopefully we’ve both heard great things about each other other [laughs].
I’ve just become friends with people through friends of friends. I guess I have a lot of old friends from living in Chicago who have moved everywhere, so there’s this branching out, where it just seems like you’ll always know someone. I guess I don’t always work that collaboratively, though I have worked at public print shops and I love drawing hang outs. But I feel like I meet a lot of people going to shows.
The Quimby’s job seems like an awesome job to be an artist at—hanging around books all day and talking to cool people about cool things. Do you have downtime that allows you to be creative at work?
It is a total dream job. And I’m also in charge of putting zines and comics and books up on our Website. We’re super busy, because it’s run by three people, so we all have to kind of haul ass. But it is like Christmas every day. New stuff comes in, or someone will come in and be like, “how do I make a zine?” And then, a week later, they’ll bring in the most amazing zine you’ve ever seen.
Do you feel like you’re there to give people tips on how to get started?
I don’t feel like that’s my function, but I really like walking around the store with someone and hearing about what they’re thinking about doing. And having a working knowledge about what we stock and what we can stock, it’s really exciting to point someone to a zine that they might have some kinship with or be inspired by.
I know it’s a commercial store, so there’s a punk in me that says, “it’s a commercial store. Don’t make it into some kind of paradise.” But as a resource for self-publishers and people interested in getting into self-publishing, I’m enamored that we have the ability to have an open consignment. We have seven-year-old consigning comics that they’ve made and old folks who have published a story and have their booklet. It’s just all over the place.
I feel like a lot of authors are like, “do you want to see a sample?” And we’d love to see a sample, but that’s not what signing with us hinges upon. We’ll take a zine, no matter what.
This might be a bit tough, but can you give a quick abstract of the Gaylord Phoenix book? As a reader, I’m not sure if I can really distill it in that manner…
I can give it a shot… Language is tricky in that book. It’s the story of the Gaylord Phoenix, who was this traveler/journeyer, who is attacked in a cavern and reborn as kind of a phoenix creature from that, and has sort of smutty and violent adventures in the desert that kind of shape this realization that his memory is missing. And he opens himself up to figuring out who he is—and then does! But in a kind of hallucinatory kind of way, with some ecstatic moments in there.
Have hallucinatory methods played a role in your own attempt to find yourself?
Well, yes, but I don’t think the book is tune in, turn on, and drop out.
It’s not The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
Yeah, yeah. I would never speak bad of that, but yeah. Space and time get shaped in kind of weird ways, and I think it’s important to pay attention to that, to pay attention to what happens in, for lack of a better term, a “psychedelic space,” it’s a pretty interesting way of mapping inner spaces as well as outer space, at the same time.
It’s a way making the journey clear on the page.
Yeah, definitely. If ideas can spill out in a physical form and take up space, and it bodies can be abstract and be present in multiple areas at the same time.
Those are some lofty aspirations.
It all comes into view [laughs]. Space, body, ideas.
All in one, big, swirling nebulous form.
Yeah, nebulous! Keeping it flexible and possible is interesting.
Was all of that traveling in your own life an attempt find yourself, to some degree?
Yeah, I guess. I feel like a changing animal, in that—I’m not always going through a personality overhaul, but I think something… Traveling is always having to interact with different towns and people and situations. I’m 30 now, and I think that, as I get older, I get more solid with myself, and I think that that was something that I definitely wanted to put in the book. Maybe it didn’t start out that way, but it turned out that way.
[Continued in Part Three]