GRIDLORDS has very kindly asked me to participate at their next comics reading Saturday June 30th 8pm at The Waypost, 120 N. Williams Ave. Part of the deal was getting interviewed by someone close to me or someone who might ask sensitive questions. CVY was the obvs choice.
Although Suzette Smith and her close friend Cari Vander Yacht originally met in Portland, (at a Boredoms concert where they scaled a wall together, screaming about LOST) Cari now lives in Amsterdam, nine hours in the future.)
C: I’M GOING TO INTERVIEW YOU RIGHT NOW
SO YOU DRAW
WHAT’S THAT LIKE?
S: No! I’m sleeping!
C: Alright, I’ll interview you later.
C: Do you want to do this interview thingy now? A proper one? We can start by talking about how long you’ve been making comics.
S: It used to be something my sister and I did together. When I was 11, I think, I started making comics about these school girls: Plaidtra and Fuck You. They were both catholic school girls because I was. They were always running away from nuns but the nuns at my school were really nice. Fuck You was based on me. Her code name was actually an abbreviation for I Don’t Need a Stupid Codename, Fuckhead. Her powers came from braiding her hair so tightly that she could somehow control raw food. She was a rage ball.
C: So she could braise things from afar?
S: She had armies of baby carrots that did her bidding. Plaidtra had total dominion over synthetic fabrics. This power actually showed up in a later science fiction story I wrote. I like really stupid powers.
C: Very domesticated powers. What do you do with a power over synthetic fabrics?
S: Plaidtra never really seemed to use her powers. It was a great bone of contention between her and FU who used her powers constantly. I think one time FU and Plaidtra ran into the X-men and Plaidtra made their costumes attack them.
C: Those girls are out of control. Did they eventually join forces and get it on with any of the
X-mens? That’s how my storylines always developed.
S: With the X-men? I think they thought the X-men were stupid. That wasn’t what I thought at all but that was what they thought. Plaidtra and FU were schoolgirls so they thought everything was stupid.
C: Oh man, your imaginary super heroes didn’t get as much action as mine did.
S: Yeah, I was terrified of sex.
S: No, it was way before that. Catholicism was a breeze because everything is so wink and nod with that religion. Catholics know you still gotta live your life. I was raised in this crazy cult super church. It was like Baptist/Pentecostal/Imagination!
C: Where was that?
S: In the suburbs of Detroit. I went a school run by the church too. I was really happy to get to Catholic school later. There were actual rules instead of wacky “praying about it and then doing what I want” rules. I was always getting in trouble and being sent to the pastor’s office. The pastor’s office was like plated in gold. It was disgusting.
C: So your folks were into super cult church and then something changed?
S: The church ran into financial problems. The school had to close and my parents became disillusioned so they joined a smaller offshoot of that church. EVEN SMALLER but I think it was a little more sane. I went to a Lutheran school at first where the kids beat the shit out of me all the time. There are huge lapses of time I just don’t remember. Then I went to catholic school and it was nice.
C: Wait, your cult-y school. Was that where you had to pretend to be a tree when things got a little overwhelming in the school room?
S: Yeah, it was just when Miss H would freak out. I never noticed a correlation between our behavior and tree times but she would drag us all out of our classroom and into the little chapel and make us stand and be “trees in the wind” for an hour or more. We were like less than 100 kids, K - 8 all standing there with our hands up, swaying and she would be at the front with her fingers spread saying “oooooooooo.” And we would all go “ooooooo.”
C: That would look like some crazy wicker man shit to a passerby.
S: And she would scream, “Be trees! Be trees in the wind!” And we would wave our arms slowly.
C: Do you still use that shit sometimes? Like, do you pull from your tree background when things get out of hand?
S: No way. That shit was not working. It was pretty obvious Miss H wasn’t getting much out of it. I have tried to throw away everything about that place.
C: What’s the last cult-y thing you’ve done?
S: With my parents’ cult or just on my own?
C: Just recently.
S: I like witch stuff. I have a complicated relationship with witchery. I like rituals but I don’t trust belief. Even my tarot readings, I call my tarot deck “Old Man” or “Bob” and I think it has the personality of a grumpy grandpa. It’s like a half joke but luckily Bob is cool with that. My tarot deck thinks tarot decks are nonsense.
C: I like the idea of Old Man talking to you about relationships through cards or giving you career advice
S: Yeah he never wants me to date anyone.
C: Well, I would imagine he’d just be exasperated, like your grandpa is raising you and you have to ask him about your yeast infection.
S: Exactly! He says I have to keep working on getting better at my shit and then maybe I can date later. That’s kind of fucked, I guess. Some dude as a great reward?
C: Weird, yeah, dudes are a lot of work too. But you’ve been all about getting better and better with your work. You’ve been doing comics for the Portland Mercury right?
S: Yeah, I do a little comic on the back page in the comics section and I illustrate the letters column. I do movie reviews and comics reviews and I write funny things. I like being a Mercury intern mostly because I like the weekly editorial meeting where everyone jokes and plays off one another. There’s a nice balance of different kinds of nerds at the paper. The other day this guy Bobby Roberts pointed out that an event we were talking about was the “Klingon word for pain” and everyone couldn’t stop laughing for like ten minutes. The Editor-in-Chief was like “Stop it! Stop laughing, you guys!”
C: Did he slam his fist on the table?
S: Yes. Steve has something of a light southern drawl so it is really fun to get orders from him.
C: You’ve always had a strong biographical element to your comics and working for the paper seems to have allowed you to follow that route.
S: Hmm, maybe. I’ve had a hard time getting a handle on what to make comics about for the paper because I could literally make comics about anything. I like it when someone just shouts at me to make a comic about something. My brain can see so many possibilities. I guess I’m like what Nietzsche said: “He takes orders well as suits a lazy intellect.”
C: Oh god, you totally quoted Nietzsche in your interview.
S: But I like teamwork, Nietzsche!!! Sorry Nietzsche-dad! Nietzsche-papa why can’t I gain your approval???
C: On his deathbed, Nietzsche-papa wrote you out of his will.
S: Man. That should be a rule, right? Never date a dude who likes Nietzsche-papa. I think it’s good to know about Nietzsche-papa but don’t take him too seriously. Don’t take anything too seriously.
C: When am I getting my Lars Von Trier zine?
S: Sorry. They’re on my desk.
C: Put them on MY desk! By hand!
S: Ha ha, you put your desk so far AWAY from mine.
C: Listen, it’s a friendship pilgrimage. If you come here by foot then I’m sure Werner Herzog will give you a prize and we can hang out too. (Ed. note: reference to Walking on Ice by Werner Herzog.)
S: If I could walk to Amsterdam I totally would.
C: I mean, Lars would probably be into it as well, but Herzog is the one into walking.
S: Lars is like Nietzsche-papa. It’s hard to get his approval.
C: He never got his father’s approval so why should we? In any case, I’m super stoked about the LVT fanzine. I can’t wait to get weird stains all over it.
S: Yeah, I read a book of interviews with Lars Von Trier. I like him a lot and it was fun making an anthology zine with Sean Christensen who is passionate and so devoted to LVT. It was a nice balance. We got some more satirical looks in there. I keep hearing that people want the anthology but hate LVT. I wish I could be there to tell them, there’s some stuff in there for you too. We can have fun with our heroes. It seems that if we only write them war songs they’re liable to get bored.
C: No kidding, I feel more comfortable poking fun, safer perspective
S: WITH LOVE is what I always say. I have to jet to an appointment in about 15. Do you have any other Qs?
C: I just burned a pot of rice. How would you comfort me as Nietzsche-dad?
S: Nietzsche-dad would just take you out for rice and prostitutes.
C: Well, I guess that would be alright.
I didn't talk about it in the interview at all but I'm going to be unveiling my latest comics, a science fiction story comic about a cloned man named Tennus.
Come to the reading! Saturday June 30th 8pm at The Waypost, 120 N. Williams Ave.