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Interview

Lucy Knisley p1

Readersvoice.com aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. Lucy Knisley is a New York-based comics artist who creates beautiful and down to earth autobiographical and other comics. These include the travel memoir French Milk (Simon and Schuster) about a sojourn with her mother in Paris, and a travel diary of a trip to Africa,Tanzania Travelogue. Her graphic novel memoir, Relish, My Life in the Kitchen, will be released on April 2, 2013. Check out lucyknisley.com for a wide selection of her comics, and other projects including singing and puppetry. Read on for plenty of good reading tips, including young adult and graphic novels.

READERSVOICE.COM: You mentioned several French-themed books you’d enjoyed, in an interview with Tom Spurgeon about your travel memoir French Milk. Books like Carnet de Voyage, La Flaneur, A Movable Feast, (and later The Dud Avocado), and the works of Anais Nin and David Sedaris. Do you read around topics you will cover, in preparation for some of your longer comics, like maybe restaurant memoirs or African themed books for comics about these topics?

LUCY KNISLEY: I do a little preparative reading research, depending on the topic I want to write about, but I usually tend to pick up related reading while I’m there and read it after the fact (but before the comic is finished). Usually I have a better idea about what the comic will be about once I’m immersed in it, so getting reading recommendations at the time about where I am or what interests me about what I experience is more helpful. I’m also a big re-reader. Often I remember something I read earlier that helps clarify something I want to develop, and I’ll go back and review it. When I got back from Africa, I re-watched “Out of Africa” to re-experience a movie I hadn’t watched since I was a kid from the perspective of having visited Africa.

RV: You like Oscar Wilde as shown in your lush Oscar Wilde Animation made with Lawrence Gullo, and in your comic The Finals of Doris Gray, your song The Last time, and by your visit to his grave in Paris. Which of his works do you like the most and what is it you like the most about his works?

LK: I have loved Oscar since I was a kid, so my favorite of his works changes depending on my mood and age. In high school, I liked The Picture of Dorian Gray, and The Importance of Being Earnest, but as I got older I got into his awesome creepy children’s stories and poetry. In art school, I liked reading his essays on aesthetism, because the idea of art-for-art’s-sake was something I was interested when I was slogging through classes that made me question the function and benefit of making art. I really love reading his letters, which give such a sense of his life and personality. Because I’m presently doing so much travel writing lately, I’m getting into his writing about his tour through America. I hope to write a book about traveling through the places he lived in the UK– tentatively this fall, when I’m over there for a UK comics festival.

RV: In the final panel of your February 1, 2007 Hourly Comic Journal you have a picture of your character reading a book for the eighth or ninth time. What is the title of the book?

LK: I have a lot of books that I read over and over, but I think that was meant to be Beg the Question, by Bob Fingerman. It’s a graphic novel about him and his girlfriend. I actually haven’t re-read it for a while, but I first read it in high school and I remember being really fascinated with an insight into the life of an independent comics artist, all grown up.

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-copyright Simon Sandall.

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