We've recently had some new blood join our satanic circle in comics and are proud to highlight them. Meet Keeli McCarthy, one of our designers. She's currently working on many books for us, too many but she's a tough nut.
What other jobs and experiences have you had in comics?
I was the first female employee at a shop called Atomic Comics in the mid-90s in Phoenix. I was hired as the "alternative comics" person. I diverted a lot of questions about Image release dates with "um, how about checking out that Julie Doucet book there in the corner?"
What was the first comic you read?
My introduction to comics came through the wonderful world of Jack Chick tracts. Mormonism, Satanism, D&D, hippies… I ended up with a childhood preoccupation with hippies because they seemed to be having so much fun freaking out in those densely-drawn panels. I still have dozens and dozens of pictures of hippies that I drew as a child. I was also a big fan of Archie.
What was the first comic that made you want to write, react, something?
I really discovered comics when I picked up my first issue of Eightball. It was during the middle of Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron, and so I had to scuttle around the local comic shops to put together the back issues. I was so fascinated with Clowes' pastiche of period references, something that definitely influences my work today. I was also hugely influenced by the ghoulishness of Al Columbia's Biologic Show and anything horror from EC.
What can you recommend to Fanta readers?
I discovered Carl Barks when I designed the Ghost Of The Grotto collection and I've fallen in love with his stories. His human/animal hybrid characters are a hoot. The gags are great, and the colors in the Fantagraphics reprints are so sunny and beautiful. I'm also excited to sit down with the final printed version of Gast.
Weirdest Fanta experience so far?
I would say that the weirdest thing about Fantagraphics is the old house we work in. There is original art, staff art, and just…stuff everywhere. I discover some new little gem each day. Like the Gap ad in which the model's face has been replaced with one from an Al Columbia painting, the whole thing blasted through with a rifle shot. I have no idea how this came about and I will never tire of looking at it.
(note: associate publisher Eric Reynolds shot this many years ago)
Favorite way to wind down?
I try to move away from the two-dimensional world as much as possible after work, and cooking is a great way to do that. I love making big elaborate dinners. I am also the queen of improvised soup.
What projects do you have ahead of you outside of your job?
I've been working on a series of brush and ink drawings based on observations of people's behavior in public places-coffee shops, dentists' waiting rooms, nightclubs. They're a fun exercise in getting better at inking good solid blacks. Last year, while living in New Zealand, I put together a zine/gallery show of 20 artists commemorating Oddbodz, which were New Zealand's answer to the Garbage Pail Kids. I'm hoping my next project can be that huge and crazy and fun. I'm also planning a trip to Tokyo in the next year with NYC/NZ zinester Erin Fae to write and draw a book about Japanese coffee culture.
Best part of comic conventions?
I'm not a huge fan of comic conventions. I usually only go when there is a creator I really need to meet. Then I just field that person's puzzled glances as I hover around their table with a huge creepy smile on my face.
Favorite place in Seattle for food or public place?
I recently discovered the giant hammering person sculpture and its history of mayhem, which I rather enjoy thinking about. Food-wise, TNT Taqueria has been haunting my memory with their TWO delicious meatless taco options. Also, this town has a staggering amount of donut eating opportunities, which I find very appealing.
Black coffee. Preferably accompanied by a donut.
Thanks again for answering questions, Keeli! More soon from the pit where management keeps us at night.