We met Marnie Galloway in 2013 at our first Expo. She drove in from Chicago to take a chance on our tiny experiment. This year, as featured artist, she’s prepared a performance of her comics for our Kickoff on 10/14 at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation.
Tell us a little about yourself; what makes you tick and what makes your publications tick?
My name is Marnie Galloway and I am a cartoonist working in Chicago. I make comics that explore the same ground that the lyric essay does in poetry. Genres mingle and research braids through the often-but-not-always fictional short comics I’m making these days. Comics is a medium comfortable with silence, unburdening a story or a crucial moment from the weight of language. I find the idea of crafting and sharing an emotionally loaded silence with a reader extremely energizing.
What drew you to creating, publishing, editing and presenting your projects?
My work, even before I knew I was making art, has always revolved around a core drawing practice. When no one was looking, I would draw when I was supposed to be working on something else. I made books as gifts, I kept illustrated diaries. I earnestly tried my hand at making artist books and at printmaking; neither discipline felt like the right fit, but I learned the skills I needed to make publishing a cornerstone of my practice. I love being able to give books to friends and family, to trade books with fellow artists; someday I’m going to be mummified under an avalanche of paper.
What do you think of the relationship between publishing (what you do) and reaching an audience of readers?
The kinds of comics I make are quiet, intimate and pretty bookish—that is, the materiality of the book informs (I hope) the reading of the story. I have tried presenting my comics online and something feels off; maybe I haven’t cracked the code yet, but for now I’m focused on the book as my primary form. I am grateful to have So What? Press in Brooklyn and Radiator Comics in Chicago distributing my work to small press & self-publisher friendly book stores, but exhibiting at small press expos and alternative comics festivals is the primary way I connect with readers and other artists.
Can you tell us about your creative, editorial, and collaborative process?
Painful months of writing; piles of abandoned drafts as I thumbnail page layout and rough book design; laborious but satisfying pencils; joyful inks flowing in disappearing hours.
What advice would you give to someone starting a small press or publishing project?
Start now: don’t overthink it! There are tons of resources online, in public libraries & radical libraries, in community workshop spaces, in shared printmaking studios, etc etc etc, to guide you through making your first zine (or comic) with a single sheet of copy paper. I always learn best by doing a thing going in knowing it’s going to be bad and then puzzling out how to do it better. That cliché “the distance between 0 and 1 is greater than the distance between 1 and 2” feels really true to me. Once you’ve done something once, and it’s no longer an abstract intimidating thing, making the second and the third and the fifteenth are so much easier.