Linework NW is at its heart a gathering of remarkable creators, editors, illustrators, cartoonists, and publishers who represent some of the best work that is being produced in these mediums today.
Each day from now until the show we are going to be highlighting the amazing creators of Linework NW in a series of interviews conducted by the awesome folks over at Gridlords. Today’s spotlight is on Sam Alden, author of The Man That Dances in the Meadow, Haunter, and the forthcoming It Never Happened Again.
How did you get started making comics? Do you have any formal training, or are you self taught?
How did you arrive at your style? Do you have just one method of drawing/painting/etc., or do different projects dictate different styles?
I dunno if I have a style that feels like mine! I try to rip off artists who are more talented than I am because I’ll usually fuck up and arrive at something completely different. And I try to change up my materials and drawing style pretty drastically for each project, yeah. Mostly my concern is how to make something really quickly and have fun doing it.
In a similar vein, are there any sort of warm up exercises you do before drawing? Or before writing?
I drink coffee, usually, but that’s about it. I should do more because the first hour of work is always kind of a miserable slog and I think that’s why people do warmup drawings.
Do you find that certain visual themes recur in your work? Any motifs or regular occurrences you’d like to talk about?
Yeah, I draw a lot of islands, shadows, dead chickens, sad white people, boats, and people in cars.
What kind of stories do you find you like to tell?
Right now I’m trying to stop telling so many self-serious weepy stories about unhappy people moping around. I don’t know. In general, I don’t like my stories very much, and so I’m trying to change up the way that I write them. I guess I write about parents a lot?
Are there any mediums outside the work that you do that you find inspiring? Any authors, filmmakers, performers, etc.?
Yeah! I like Lydia Davis
and Amy Hempel
a lot. My friend David Kanaga
does electronic music and has always been a huge hero in terms of his approach to work and experimentation. Recently I’ve been parsing a lot of visual stuff from the old Klonoa PS1 games
. That series had some of the most bonkers design work.
Conversely, are there any other mediums you work in that you could talk about? Any video, performance, or music that you do?
I make music sometimes but no one will ever, ever, ever, ever hear it. It’s important for me to make art that no one will ever see, and which I know will never be very good.
If you could collaborate with any person, living or dead, who would it be? What would you work on?
My favorite artist has always been Tove Jansson, but I think she’d be too talented and opinionated to be a good collaborator. I’d rather make a video game with Cactus
Who have you been looking at in comics recently? Anyone’s work just blowing you away?
Yes, Daryl Seitchik
is blowing my mind with her Dear Missy
strip. Everyone needs to be reading those comics. Keiler Roberts
is a cartoonist that I’d like more people to be paying attention to. And Michael Horwitz
is like the secret genius of Portland right now, if he ever puts together anything even vaguely resembling a comic it’ll totally blow up.
Do you have any new projects coming up that you can tell us about?
I’m doing a book for Floating World Comics
called The Alpine Biologist
, and a new Frontier
for Youth In Decline
, and then a big scary “graphic novel” or whatever. I just storyboarded an episode of Adventure Time
with Jesse Moynihan which will air at some point this year, but my involvement with it seems to be over. And I have a lot of little weird projects keeping me busy as well. I like overcommitting myself.
Gridlords interview by Graham Kahler