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Cartoonist Gabrielle Bell spent the entire month of July posting one diary comic per day on her blog. They were very good. People, including us, got excited about them. They were even nominated for the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Webcomic.
And then they were gone.
Some time after the 31st and final strip was posted, Bell removed all but that last comic. It was a move she’d promised to make from the beginning, but it still came as a surprise given all the attention and acclaim paid to the project. Why’d did the Lucky and Cecil and Jordan in New York: Stories author send those 30 strips down the memory hole? In an interview with Bell at CBR, Alex Dueben asked her:
You mentioned on your blog that you’re taking these comics down. Why?
Because I felt so embarrassed by them. I mean, it’s my personal life. I know I do this with my autobiographical stories, but when I polish it up and make it into a formal comic, it seems more removed. The idea of that stuff just seems so immediate and scrawled out there that I decided at the very beginning that I would take it down. Then I got so many compliments, I kind of wish that I had not decided to take it down. If I had known that people would enjoy reading them, I would probably have kept them up. But I think that I should stay true to my word and take them down since I told myself. That was part of the deal.
Having read a lot of your work, many of the strips felt like a first draft or detailed notes of an idea.
That’s why I decided to take it down, too, because I don’t think it’s a good idea to put out unfinished work. I had a lot of good ideas in that month, and I’d like to develop them into more finished stories, so I wanted to take them down so I could rework them, maybe. I feel like I wasted a lot of good ideas.
I’d tell Bell that she’s got nothing to be embarrassed about from comics that entertaining, but my guess is that’d be a losing battle. So I’ll say I’m excited at the prospect of more fleshed-out projects emerging from individual entries and leave it at that.
Anyway, read the whole interview for Bell’s take on her time with the Mome anthology series, the tension between privacy and artistic integrity in autobiographical comics, her conflicted feelings about the internet, and much more.