Monday, January 14, 2008

Cream City Conversations with Bob Lipski

Bob Lipski is the creator featured, thusfar, in my 'conversations' I know least about... at least on a personal level. What I do know is he is incredibly prolific and consistent with his Uptown Girl comics. What's even more impressive is he's garnered enough attention and fanfare to have an independent film based on his work. You can learn more about the Uptown Girl movie here:

I've been fortunate enough to publish some of Bob's work and I can tell you he's never let me down. His work will not soon be mistaken for Neal Adams'. But who needs another Neal Adams refried rip-off artist when you could read something fresh and new... and heartfelt?

With that intro... take it away Bob!

CCC: For those who don't know, Name and location?

Bob Lipski, Saint Paul, MN

CCC: How did you become interested in creating comics?

I always liked drawing and I always enjoyed reading comics. But I always thought that creating comics was impossible because I couldn’t draw like the DC and Marvel guys. I didn’t really want to draw superhero comics... even though I liked reading them. It wasn’t until my friend, David Tea, turned me onto mini-comics... I started to discover a lot of indie cartoonists after that.

CCC: What was your first published work? Did you self-publish that work?

My friend, David Tea, encouraged me to try my hand at doing mini-comics but the idea of doing a whole comic seemed impossible. So I started doing a one page autobiographical comic called ‘Fake Farm Landscape’. Dave started to publish those strips in the zines he edited.

CCC: If you self-publish, what do you gain from that experience?

You have to wear a lot of hats being a self-publisher. You have to have a business mind and be detail-orientated. Me, I would rather spend the time drawing instead of doing invoices so it’s hard for me to manage the business side of things.

CCC: Give us a list of your published works (self-published or otherwise)?

So far, almost all of my work is self-published. My major work is the monthly comic book ‘Uptown Girl’ which has been going for almost 5 years.

CCC: Describe the art scene where you live. If you've lived elsewhere and were producing art there, compare those scenes.

I’m not really in touch with the art scene where I live, I suspect it’s comprised of people who like make crafts and all that.

CCC: Do you belong to any online or 'real world' art groups? If so, list them and describe how that/those group/s benefit you.

I belong to a cartoonist group in Minneapolis called ‘The Cartoonist Conspiracy’. I like that group because I get to meet other cartoonists and develop my skill and get involved in projects I normally wouldn’t.

*Note: I suspect it's also drawn Bob into his local art scene... although I doubt he's taken up crafts.

CCC: What is your ultimate or immediate goal in creating comics?

To entertain myself. I want to write the stories that I want to draw.

CCC: What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

Lately, I’ve been enjoying biographies of cartoonists. I just finished the one about Charles Schulz. But I like the books about Jack Kirby the most.

*Note: For the unintiated, look into Kirby's work. Modern comics would not be the same without him.

CCC: What kinds of standards and/or expectations do you place on a comics purchase?

I just want to be entertained. I don’t care if I have a life changing moment or if it has a meaning.

CCC: What is your favorite indie publisher?

I like Slave Labor Graphics and First Second.

CCC: What is it about that publisher you find unique?

Just the variety of work they publish. They’re willing to take chances on stuff.

CCC: Who is your favorite creator/writer/illustrator?

I really dig Darwyn Cooke. There’s this energy to his work that I really like.

CCC: Give us a short list of indie creators you believe are sort of shaping the future of comics (indie and/or mainstream)?

James Kochalka, Alex Robinson and Craig Thompson. I think those three guys are doing comics that appeal to people who normally don’t read them. It pushes the perception of what comics are... and what they can be.

CCC: If you could change one thing about the modern comics 'industry' what would it be?

Just make comics more accessible, not only in terms of content but the availability of them in the first place. As much as I dislike the big bookstores, I do like seeing the areas that are dedicated to comics. Most times they’re well organized and on the shelf.

Thanks, Bob!

*Note: I don't have a personal preference in regards to bookstores. Although, I want to see specialty stores/comic shops around in another 20 years I'm not sure it's a realistic expectations. The big stores don't need to play the 'industry' game. I've been introduced to many independent publishers through traditional bookstores... publishers I've never seen at my local. This is another reason it's VERY IMPORTANT underground/indie/creator-owned folks build a strong community. The louder the voice in our community, the more attention we draw... AND the more respect we gain from vendors.

On the subject of respect, I've got to take this opportunity to pay mine to Schwartz Books. It's a local chain which has played a big part in a lot of stuff going into publication... stuff I don't think would have otherwise. Search out these kinds of bookstores in your city and support them with your dollars.

That's all I have for you today. Come back soon for the next installment. And, if this blog does you any good at all, spread the word to other people you think would enjoy it. Word-of-mouth, people... word-of-mouth.