January 7, 2014

January 7th, 2014

It’s weird trying to formulate arguments on issues that are self-evident to me. I don’t know who I am supposed to be talking to. I feel compelled to speak to artists who seem clueless, who repeat destructive oppressive behavior in their work and words, but for my own sense of safety I’ve cultivated a life that eliminates them. A point of view that completely overrides their work and their images, to the point they almost don’t exist for me, and are strange illusions I have. Glimpses on a screen before I close the window, big blank spaces when I’m glancing around the convention floor. So who do I want to talk to? Myself? To try to sort out my thoughts? And if I am indeed speaking to myself, if the audience I’m working on is me (as if in a journal), must I formulate arguments in the first place, about things that are self-evident to me? Coming full circle.

Being anti-oppressive is a big goal for the comic convention we are forming here in Providence. I’m excited to be part of a team that’s dedicated to doing everything we can to be inclusive and exhibiting zero tolerance for oppressive behavior and artwork. We have talked about making sure our intentions are clear and to the forefront of our show. And maybe that’s why I’m in such a conundrum, trying to think about how to argue for and against things that appear self-evident. Because I want to make my stance clear too, for people who are looking for it.

Art allows you to do literally anything, and when people use it to reinforce oppressive systems that are already in place, it’s not only intolerable, it’s downright unacceptable. I want to be talking to people who also believe that.

The way I want to make art now

January 3rd, 2014

It’s strange to watch someone who has mistreated you and people you love over the course of years, it’s strange seeing them talk about surviving their own abuse, and being praised for it. Is praise the right word? Maybe it’s just weird seeing it, knowing the other side. Human experience is multidimensional.

I still have coffee. It’s lukewarm. I’m at the airport waiting to board my flight to Detroit. It’s snowing heavily outside. I want to write about starting the new year, and the way I want to make art now.

I want to be calmer. I want to look at Twitter less. I want to write more one-on-one, because I think it would help me focus on bigger ideas. I want to think more. “You think a lot,” Kevin says. I want to write more about it, though. And I’m not a very good writer, so that means I need to practice.

I want to make art like the poems Ross and Cory write. I want to be a poet. Cory has a Masters. Ross works at a desk. I want to be more relaxed. I think relaxing will make better art, more interesting. I want to make comics like poems, but not even… just art.

Ross and Cory were so positive and supportive. Ross lives in Minneapolis and Cory lives in Tucson. I live in Providence. Kevin lives in Cleveland. Dispersed, sitting in our studios, writing and making things. How can I get that way on my own? Maybe I should stop reaching out.

Some sketches from my journal, some positive sketches I drew right away after hanging out with Ross and Cory, because my heart was racing:

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Journal entry from December 25, 2013

December 31st, 2013

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I hung out with my friends and they are poets, we hung out in this living room and talked about relationships with people and art and meaning and skimming the surface off of things. (When art is no longer a truth but a husk of what was true.) Ross writes poems about people and reads them directly to their face, or maybe over the phone, without telling them that the poem is about them. (Ross leans over to me, our heads almost bumping together, and says “I want to read you a poem.” He is looking for a link off of Facebook, and he reads me two Frank O’Hara poems, shouting into my ear. One ear listens to the bar and one ear reverberates with “Having a coke with you.” When the poems are finished he pulls back grinning, and Whitney Houston is blasting “I wanna dance with somebody.”) “Are you drawing everyday, now that you are at your parents’ house?” Ross asks me over the phone. They, Cory and Ross, write everyday, and share their poems with one or two people or not at all.

Two Things Reprinted

December 17th, 2013

Review of behind every young girl’s arse… written by Sophia Foster-Dimino from the Notable Comics of 2013 post on the Comics & Cola blog:

“Cathy G. Johnson is a cartoonist living and working in Providence, RI – where I went to college (we bonded over PVD at a con once) – and I think the first comic of hers I read was “Her Name Was Prudence,” a story about relationships, literature, sex, communication… beautifully rendered in graphite. I’m generally a big fan of comics done in pencil, especially if they sort of mimic vision in motion by blurring out peripheral details, and hint at process by showing semi-erased leftovers.

I’ve read many many pages of comics this year but Cathy’s black-and-white 9-pager behind every young girl’s arse… has really stuck with me, and I’ve thought about it regularly since I first read it. Her rough pencils perfectly evoke a pitch-black night, with a fire throwing thick shadows over contorted forms. The story is brief but it hits like a heavy hammer – full of monumental desperation and rage. Even little meta-details – like shadows of other pages showing through the paper – or a format-breaking list of potential “reactions” that could easily be Cathy’s own, in her sketchbook – drive home the raw weight of this narrative. The story is bookended by two contrasting images of a naked woman, and since I have reread this story countless times in the past few months, I have compared those images again and again. My experience of this comic is cyclical. It feels like a colossal turning wheel.

behind every young girl’s arse… is published in tandem with the also excellent Until It Runs Clear in a single zine, for sale online. Her incredible watercolor webcomic Jeremiah was also collected and published this year.”

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My comic behind every young girl’s arse… can be read here

Quote by Nina Power, from She’s just not that into you:

“What, ultimately, would it mean to let the Young-Girl speak for herself and not through the categories imposed upon her by a culture that heralds her as the metaphysical apex of civilization while simultaneously denigrating her, or even the categories that Tiqqun mobilize to take her apart in a subtly different way? Behind every Young-Girl’s arse hides a bunch of rich white men: the task is surely not, then, to destroy the Young-Girl, but to destroy the system that makes her, and makes her so unhappy, whoever ‘she’ is.”

SPX Debuts!

September 7th, 2013

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My SPX rundown of what’s going on! (I know my incredible tablemates have their own amazing stuff, but I’ll let them talk about it themselves.)

Here’s what I got debuting at SPX TABLE I1:

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1) JEREMIAH’S BOOK DEBUT! ‘Jeremiah’ is the foreboding story of a teenager whose struggle with self-discovery may bring on the end of his world. A watercolor and ink graphic novel spanning 160 pages, ‘Jeremiah’ explores the conflict between the physical and the inexplicable, asking questions about faith, adolescence and sexuality.

5″ x 7″, 160 pages, full-color

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2) NEW SCREENPRINT featuring a chicken and her friend, with matching mani pedis and eye-rolling attitudes.

5-layer screenprint on gray acid-free card stock, 8.5” by 11”, signed & numbered edition of 70. Comes in a clear poly sleeve with cardboard backing.

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3) “WE DEFINE THE LIMITS OF OUR PERSONALITIES TOO NARROWLY. WE CONSIST OF EVERYTHING THE WORLD CONSISTS OF.” 2013 summer travel zine, spanning my time visiting friends along the East Coast and family in Finland and Sweden. This zine is CONVENTION EXCLUSIVE, meaning it’s not available online. The reason for this is because it gets personal. Come and buy one if you want to know some of my secrets. It has writing and comics and observational drawings.

5” by 8.25”, 44 pages, b&w

I’ll also have my other comics and zines, and my other screen prints. It’s probable I won’t have the space to display them, so if you know you want to buy one, you should ask me about it.

http://cathyboy.storenvy.com

Vacation Info

July 29th, 2013

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I’m leaving for a couple weeks! Here is what you need to know:

Jeremiah is updating this week Monday (today!) and Friday (double page!) Then it’s skipping a week, returning the week after with regular posts (MWF).

Then I’ll be in Minneapolis for Autoptic on August 18! I’ll be debuting “Therefore, I Believe That I Want You Immensely,” a collection of poems and drawings by Cory Aaland, Ross Hernandez and me. (Me and Ross have collaborated before…)

I’m also going to be repping the Women Warriors // Lady Knights zine there!! I only have twenty copies, so be sure to come by my table early if you want one!

Okay, keep having the best summer, ya’ll!

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Here’s one of the drawings from “Therefore, I Believe That I Want You Immensely”:

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Self-portrait in a chrysalis but I don’t really think it’s there

July 2nd, 2013

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2013

New Comic Premieres at CAKE

June 9th, 2013

Next weekend is CAKE, the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, and I’m proud to announce the debut of two works:

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“He fought like a little tiger in a trap,” debuting at TCAF in Toronto last month, with Chicago in June being its US debut.

8 pages, 11″ by 17″ newsprint, grayscale

Inspired by the 1940 novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. This comic takes a look at one’s sense of identity, its expression, and ultimately, the often-inhospitable conditions that tend to stifle it.

Kevin and I each wrote and drew half of the pages, splitting them horizontally. It was fun and emotional to work on this project with him, and I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved together.

It’s available for purchase from me here, as well as from Czap Books here.

Here is my half of the big center spread (click it view bigger):

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I’m also debuting Until It Runs Clear, a full-color, 20 page zine that will collect a few gouache paintings, the comic “behind every young girl’s arse…” and the NEW comic “Until It Runs Clear.”:

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The rest of the comic may be read on my website here.

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The zine will also have “behind every young girl’s arse…” in it, which can be read online HERE.

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The zine “Until It Runs Clear” can be PRE-ORDERED on my Storenvy HERE.

Hope to see you in Chicago next weekend!