Katie Skelly wants to ‘work harder and grosser and draw uglier’
[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
I’ve been interviewing comic creators since late 1999–and I periodically like to read other people’s interviews to see nuances and angles I may be overlooking. One interviewer that always engages my interest and challenges me to reconsider my approach is Robot 6 co-conspirator Chris Mautner. Mautner is widely read and respected because of his talent and because of the myriad publications that offer him a forum.
This week, over at The Comics Journal, Mautner caught up with Operation Margarine’s Katie Skelly. Having interviewed her myself in April, I was eager to see what ground Mautner covered that I had not. He did not disappoint.
Mautner drew upon an early May 2014 interview that Skelly did with Bitch magazine, in which the writer/artist opened up about seeking treatment for an eating disorder while working on Operation Margarine. Using past interviews as a springboard for a new question is something I have done for years, because half the time while the interview subject has discussed the nuance previously, with the passage of time there is something more that the person wants to say on the topic. (Also, to be honest, it never hurts to show your subject that you actually researched before contacting them, rather than just rolling out of bed and firing questions with no knowledge).
Mautner springboards from Skelly’s initial candor to elicit even more insight from the creator. It is essential that I give Skelly full credit for her willingness to discuss her personal health in a public forum. It is none of our damn business, to be honest. She does not have to open up in such a manner. Yet, in doing so, I think she offers folks an opportunity to hopefully recognize something in themselves (should they be struggling with a eating disorder) and get help.
Also, I love how in getting help for her disorder, Skelly uncovers a newfound confidence in her work and herself that allowed her to shift her approach to art. Consider this quote: “I’m feeling like I want to work harder and grosser and draw uglier; one thing drawing used to do for me was help me feel like I was contributing beauty to the world because I felt so ugly. But now I feel like, fuck that, ugly is good.” The swagger in her tone just jumped out of the computer screen at me when I read that. I was just so happy for her.
And if I am honest with myself, I was slightly jealous that Mautner elicited such a damn honest and blunt response from her.
No doubt, I relish discoveries like these, as it makes me want to be a better interviewer.