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Interview—Marc Pearson
Written by Max Olijnyk — 13th August 2015

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Marc Pearson walked into our shop a while back and asked if he could leave some flyers to the launch party for his new comic. ‘Who is this joker?’ I thought to myself, and asked if I could take a look at this comic. He pulled a copy out of his backpack and I changed my tune, smartish.

‘Why certainly good sir, you must leave some flyers. And if by some miracle you don’t sell out completely at your launch, may we purchase a few for our humble shop?’ I whispered, staring at my feet.

Advicecomics (for that is the title of the comic in question) is a thing to behold. Further to my exposure to Achromatopsia earlier this year, this is evidence of a whole world of clever, funny, weird comics that I have no idea about, but are right up my alley. I asked Marc a few questions via email and he replied.

Max: This book is insane! Can you explain the idea behind Advicecomics?
Marc: Sure thing, yep, yep. Advicecomics is an online cartoon advice column where real people can send in advice queries or questions and get responses back in comic form. Anyone can ask questions, and the answers come from a whole bunch of really interesting cartoonists and artists and humans whose types of responses vary pretty widely. The seed idea came because Andy Connor (who writes Mulbert [a character in the Advicecomics ‘universe’]) lent me a book called Tiny Beautiful Things: advice on life and love from dear sugar by Cheryl Strayed and it’s just a really incredible book. It was one of those things that hit me at a perfect time and it made me cry and laugh and feel a whole lot. She’s super empathetic and her advice is really cutting but really empowering. It’s also exciting to me to make work that speaks directly to someone else’s situation, even if it’s just one person, even if sometimes the comic gets drawn, like, nearly a year after they’ve asked the question.

The Riso printing keeps things pretty loose and bright, and the book feels really special. Is all your stuff Riso printed? What do you like about the medium?
The quality of printing is entirely to the credit of Sarah McNeil and Ashley Ronning of Caldera Press in Melbourne (who printed the book), and Walker Mettling with help from Marion Gast, who hand-pulled something like 200 A2 posters—with three layers on one side and one layer on the back—for the screen-printed dust jacket.

I definitely always react really positively to Riso-printed comics and I’m not sure why. It still feels really fresh and exciting in a way that other digitally printed material doesn’t. Seeing a black-and-white or full-colour digital reproduction of something is great, but there’s nothing particularly special about it. With Riso-printed stuff, because it’s kind of screen-printy, each print feels less like a reproduction and more like a piece of art in and of itself.

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Are you ever frustrated by it? How does it affect your process?
I don’t know if I’d say it was frustrating. I guess I didn’t really do as much work on this as some people did. Most of the stuff that might’ve been frustrating in the printing process was done by Sarah, Ashley, Walker and Marion.

Maybe collating thousands of pages (pre-binding) was ‘complicated’ or ‘lengthy’, but probably not frustrating, especially because we did it with friends. Friends are great. Become friends with printers. Email Caldera Press. Preparing work for Riso or any other screen-printy/colour-separated reproduction methods, you really gotta have the printing in mind from the start so you can utilise the separated colours properly. Not that I did that very well, but I was definitely stressing about it.

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How come your dust jackets were printed in Providence? What’s the story there?
Walker (who draws ‘Dr Entrails’) is a contributor on the blog and a good friend, and he’s based in Providence. He also runs a series of roving kids’ comics workshops under the name The Providence Comics Consortium and he prints stuff for most, if not all, of those classes. He’s an amazing person and I think I maybe cornered him into printing these dust jackets. A bunch of us were going over anyway to ‘debut’ the book at TCAF(1) and CAKE(2), and so we were able to print the book here and then meet Walker in Toronto for TCAF where we saw the dust jackets for the first time.

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The gang at CAKE(3)

So you’re the editor but there’s a bunch of people’s work in here. How did you assemble the team?
A lot of them are friends (mainly that I’ve met through being a fan of their work or being around comics stuff) with a vaguely similar set of values, and the content on the blog roughly speaks to a number of those values (humanist, empathist, feminist, comediest [?!]). The comic also acts as a pretty loose framework for content, so it’s got a lot of room to cater to different styles or ideas.

We’ve also been appearing in the last five or so issues of The Lifted Brow, with new guest columnists each time. In the latest issue there’s Sharmila Banerjee and Ines Estrada, and in the next issue we’ve got Valentine Gallardo and Sophie Yanow.

One name that jumped out at me was Mary Leunig. I’ve admired/been spooked by her work since I was a kid! How did you get her involved? Is she a friend of yours?
I think I just sent her an email. We met a little while ago through cartoon friends, and she’s really great. I’ve been a fan of hers for a while as well, and it’s a real honour to have her work on the site and in the book. She’s the best. Everyone should look at her work if they don’t know it.

As a comics outsider, I’m completely gobsmacked by this stuff. It’s funny and crazy and vulnerable and weird. What comic stuff do you like? What other stuff do you like? How do I access this world?
Well! I like a lot of comics stuff and I like a lot of other stuff too. For other stuff I’m gonna list The Chris Gethard Show, and for comics, there are around 50 or 60 advice pieces on the blog: advicecomics.tumblr.com

At the moment I would recommend:

http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/hazlitt/comix/swim-thru-fire-pt-1

http://www.vice.com/read/fashion-cat-hey-american-wake-the-fuck-up-630

http://www.fumettologica.it/galleria/cani-selvaggi-di-amanda-vahamaki/nggallery/image/cani_selvaggip-3

http://lalewestvind.tumblr.com/

https://zco.mx/DarylSeitchik/477BrightCircle/001

http://www.dashshaw.com/prelude.html

http://spideretc.tumblr.com/

http://sticksangelica.tumblr.com/

http://www.situology.com/

http://lee-lai.tumblr.com/

http://truejrblue.tumblr.com/

http://penerasespaper.tumblr.com/

http://katieparrishtime.tumblr.com/

https://zco.mx/MichaelHawkins/BoyfriendMagicSentimentAndBondage/001

https://medium.com/@safdarahmed

http://benjuers.tumblr.com/

http://walkermettling.tumblr.com

http://baileysharp.tumblr.com/

http://nickyminuscomics.tumblr.com/

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Advicecomics is now available from our shop!

(1) The Toronto Comic Arts Fair 

(2) Chicago Alternative Comics Expo 

(3) L–R: Michael Hawkins, Nicky Minus, Katie Parrish, Lee Lai, Marc Pearson