Q & A – Miss Lasko-Gross

I discovered Miss Lasko-Gross quite by accident. Escape From “Special” was kind of jutting out from the shelf at my library, and I picked it up as an afterthought. It had been previously discussed by Van Jensen, a.k.a. Jean Claude Van Doom, but where he didn’t take something from it I, on the other hand, was captivated by the off-beat art and seeming mundanity of day to day life … if your parents are dead heads who send you to alternative schooling, at least. Still, though, it had the cathartic highs and lows of being the weird kid in class.

A few weeks ago at Small Press Expo (where I got to have some Chinese food with the ever illustrious Mr. Jensen), I stumbled across the table for Lasko-Gross and, seeing that there was a sequel to Escape from Special, decided to give it a go. Here, we find the weirdness subdued, segueing into the illusive quest for identity. The worldview felt different.

Miss Lasko-Gross was kind enough to answer some questions for Doomkopf about her style, her work and her work to come:

How did you develop the artistic style that went into Escape From Special and A Mess of Everything? Was the way you do more muted colors deliberate or just something that naturally evolved? Who are your own influences in comics, and what drew you to the medium?

The Evolution of my drawing over the past 16 years (starting with somewhat feeble high school attempts at imitating Love & Rockets and Tank Girl) has been natural and unforced. The style of coloring has been a more deliberate process.

I try to evoke a mood more so than to literally imitate reality. photo-realism in comics is a waste of time for both the artist and audience. A comic book is not a movie, shouldn’t try to compete with film, and should offer the reader something that can’t exist in any other medium. Which for Special and Mess meant creating a claustrophobic, warped and emotionally violent landscape.

Artsy philosophical crap aside, I love a muted color palate.

At what point did you decide to incorporate your own life into the work you did, as opposed to your previous work? What experiences compelled this?

Immediately after 911 the company I worked for pulled out of the US. I abandoned Aim (my wildly unpopular series) because I couldn’t afford to self publish anymore. I decided that since I was going to be poor and underemployed anyway, I might as well be happy. So I went full force into comics. Before then I’d only done 1-2 single issues per year but now I started a more ambitious collection of short vignettes that became Escape From “Special.”

With Escape being about your childhood, and Mess being more about your teenage years, will there be more books about your life, and what do you see them shaping up to be?

There is going to be at least one more book. It will focus on Art School and post college/early 20’s life . That will be my last autobio effort for a while. There’s only so many times you can draw yourself before you want to put your head through a wall.

Escape had a lot about your alternative schooling in it, and especially about your parents more non-traditional leanings, but Mess seemed to have things much more subdued. Was this a conscious decision on your part as the writer, or was this the way things had progressed in your life?

It’s just the way life progressed. After my sister was born my parents settled more into traditional suburban parenthood. It’s funny because my sister and I were raised in the same home but a decade and a cultural world apart. I was taking hits of helium and riding a tour bus at the same age she was playing little league.

In addition, your parents seem to have much less of a presence in Mess than before. Was this the case in high school, or were you consciously trying to explore more about your own life outside of that?

Escape deals primarily with childhood, when family life is the core of your existence whereas Mess covers the teen years when you’re developing an identity apart from your parents.

Do you have anything you would consider essential reading right now that everyone should rush to their comic store to get?

Sikoryak’s Masterpiece Comics, Gabrielle Bell’sCecil and Jordan in New York … I’m looking forward to reading Paul Karasik’s second Fletcher Hanks volume.

What projects can we expect from you in the future?

Recently I’ve had stories in both Awesome 2: Awesomer (the Indie Spinner Rack anthology) as well as House Of Twelve #5. I’ll be doing a web/ iphone app comic with HO12, I’m currently finishing up a children’s book and in the long run I’m working on a graphic novel about a burn survivor which is based on a true story.