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Now the 49th state can add at least one name to its roster, Anna Bongiovanni. The Fairbanks native, now transplanted to Minnesota, released her debut Out of Hollow Water through the small-press publisher 2D Cloud. It’s a rather haunting trio of short stories, told in simple, one-panel-per-page fashion, to detail various emotional, familial and even sexual trauma. Bongiovanni, however, relies upon folklore and fairy-tale tropes to give her stories an eerie, otherworldly feel that makes these stories both alien and universal at the same time. It’s a pretty impressive debut.
I talked with Bongiovanni over email during the holidays about her new book and its origins.
Chris Mautner: First of all, tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you get interested in drawing? How were you introduced to comics and what made you decide to start making your own?
Ann Bongiovanni: I was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska. I never got into comics until my parents just happened to buy an Archie comic from the grocery store. Then I was hooked, like obsessed, with Archie comics. Luckily, I calmed down and – while Archie holds a special nostalgic place in my heart – I am not nearly as crazed about the series as I once was. For a few years, I attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and tried to major in elementary education, but all I ever did was draw comics. It’s what I did in-between homework assignments and during lectures. Instead of going to parties, I was drawing in my dorm room alone. I don’t really know what that says about me (yikes), but I couldn’t really think about anything other than telling my own stories. It didn’t help that I really dislike children and wanted nothing to do with them. My parents convinced me to try attending the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2007 and get a BFA in comic art, and I’ve been drawing comics ever since.
I’ve been meaning to send you all in the direction of “The Feast,” a short fantasy-adventure story about a bunch of village children and the giant forest monster that preys upon them, ever since it went up on Top Shelf’s webcomics portal Top Shelf 2.0 last week. Hopefully you’ll agree after reading it that cartoonists Anna Bongiovanni and Evan Palmer’s lushly illustrated monster romp was well worth the wait. You’ll catch a lot of Jeff Smith influence in the creature designs, action choreography, and elegantly inked black-and-white wilderness, but it took Bone a long, long time to get as unexpectedly dark as this gets by the end. This has “can’t wait to see more from this pair” written all over it. Sink your teeth into it.