Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sequart Reprints: robin enrico

Robin Enrico is an interesting young cartoonist whose work has taken a dramatic step forward with the publication of JAM IN THE BAND. It's the story of the rise and fall of an indy-rock band, and the ways in which obsessing over one's art hinders and is hindered by relationships. Obsession and relationships have resonated in Enrico's other work, including minis like Controller (about video game obsession), Stupid and Unkind (a wholly unsentimental take on a relationship that doesn't really go anywhere thanks to the short-sightedness of one of its members), Party At Horror Beach and others. His simplified, iconic style is a perfect, direct conduit for his wit while providing a direct contrast to the bitterness and cynicism that his characters experiences. Enrico also co-edited the Friends of Lulu Anthology GIRLS' GUIDE TO GUYS' STUFF. Enrico will be at SPX this weekend with a JAM IN THE BAND 2 preview minicomic.

SEQUART: Where are you from originally? Were the arts encouraged in your house growing up? Did you do anything artistic with friends and/or siblings?

Enrico: So this is a difficult one. I didn't see myself as an artist until I went to college. Where I had accidently enrolled myself in the Art Video department thinking it was the Communications department. I had grown up in a household with an alcoholic father who fancied himself a painter and who constantly reminded me that I was "stupid" for not "getting" art. So for me, the idea of being an artist was the furthest thing from my mind. I believed I would follow a straight-laced career path and live a normal life. Of course, that would have been a disaster. I am far too weird to ever make it in the house/car/kids world. Nor would I ever want to. But, I think why I have taken to comics with such vehemence is that I feel like I was cheated out of years where I COULD have been learning how to draw, but was so discouraged.

SEQUART: You've only been cartooning for five years. What was it like putting pen to paper for the first time as an adult? What was it about comics, above any other art form, that drew you into wanting to make them so much?

Enrico: I had originally want to be involved in film making when I went to college, having worked on my high school's weekly news program for a few years. But my nature is rather introverted and solitary, so I really was not cut out to be a director. Although I do think I make a pretty fine editor. Comics represents for me an alternative way to make films. And I don't mean this as a belittlement of comics. In some ways I think they are superior. Although in many ways they are SO vastly different, that it's rather ludicrous to compare them anyways. Comics allow me to tell exactly the story I want to tell, exactly the way I want it, with the only limits being my ability to draw something. Don't want to deal with actors? Draw them. Budget problems? Paper and pens cost next to nothing. You get the idea. Also, I have never been around such a welcoming and genuinely enthusiastic and positive group of people as the mini-comics community. After attending my first SPX with MK Reed in a non-creator capacity, I KNEW I had to become a part of the comics community, and I couldn't think of any better way than to make my own comic.

SEQUART: How did you maintain encouragement and confidence in the face of such a steep learning curve?

Enrico: I'm a son of a bitch, plain and simple. No, I kid. I just don't think I have EVER been involved in something as personally rewarding as comics. I talk about this in Controller, but I used to be majorly into playing video games. But when you spend hours and hours to beat a game, what is the real cumulative gain on your life for all that effort? Whereas each page I draw, each book I finish, it's this tangible thing that I can be proud of. And it translates to the outside world. Almost all of my friends these days were gained through comics. And if they are from outside of comics, they all appreciate that I am a passionately creative person. Beyond even that, I really don't know what to do with myself other than make comics. I just have an intense compulsion to make them.

SEQUART: How much drawing do you do on a daily basis that isn't directly related to drawing your comics? Do you draw from life and/or keep a sketchbook? Does the physical act of drawing bring you pleasure?

Enrico: I actually don't draw much outside of my comics. I never really drew before I started doing comics, so unlike many cartoonists I do not have to compulsion to constantly draw or sketch. I wouldn't say that drawing [is] painful for me, but it's not a joyful task either. [It's] an obstacle that must be surmounted. It's like Fitzcarraldo (film), all this intense and strenuous effort for one slight moment of triumph, which in this case is finishing the page. Although sometimes there are minor moments of joy when I surprise or amuse myself with things I end up drawing during the completion of the page.

SEQUART: You've mentioned Wimbledon Green, Blankets, Blue Monday and Love & Rockets as comics that have had an influence on you. Are you still a voracious reader ofcomics at this point in your career? From whom do you currently draw the most inspiration? How much investigation have you done into the history of the medium?

Enrico: I still love good comics. But I certainly don't read as much as I used to. That said, I still consume vast quantities of information. I am a voracious reader and an avid film watcher. So I really feel like I am drawing ideas from all over. But in terms of comics? I think my main influences haven't changed that much over the years. And by influences I mean people whose work I look at whenever I get stuck creatively. I always look back to Ghost World, more than any other book perhaps. Just look how Clowes handles a story where the primary action is two girls talking to each other, lessons abound. Other than that I look to Junko Mizuno a lot. Her books are what I WISH mine looked like. I think we're both kind of on the same cute but grotesque wave length. I also look at Bryan Lee O'Malley's work pretty frequently. With him, it's a bit different. I don't think I am copying off him, but more that we are both coming from a similar place with the whole video game influence. So it's interesting to see how some with much greater drawing ability expresses similar ideas.

SEQUART: Something that's certainly true about your comics is that even though most of them are just extended conversations, there's always some kind of movement or motion on every page, even if it's two characters walking from one place to another. This is obviously something intentional, correct?

Enrico: Look at Ghost World page 23 last panel. I have literally copied this panel in different forms at least 10 or 20 times. I think it really started to come to the fore when I did Controller. Stupid and Unkind has way too much sitting or standing around. So with Controller I wanted to do something to liven things up a bit. ALSO, I really developed a bias against autobiographical comics which were the narrator simply standing there telling you a story or narrating a story to you. So beyond the whole recounting of personal history through conversation, Controller was my attempt to render several different NYC locations under the guise of an aimless stroll. Again, it gets back to my whole "keeping the reader interested" thing. If the characters aren't walking, they're doing an action. Maybe that way no one will notice it's just the same two characters talking to each other for 20 pages. And both of these scenarios allow me to indulge in my interests in location and process. I've gotten way more into location as of late, as living in NYC provides a treasure trove of weird locations you can just wonder into. But I have always loved using comics to document a process, it comes from my love of the design sense of like air plane safety cards. You can see this even as far back as Stupid and Unkind with the infamous "bra unhook x-ray" shot.

SEQUART: Where did you attend college and what was your major? Were the arts a part of your college experience?

Enrico: I think I discussed this above, but I was an art video major in college. I was only moderately into the whole art scene up at Syracuse. What I will say is that the most influential thing to happen to me artistically was meeting MK Reed, who had just started doing her comics at the time. Knowing her is what got me into reading and making comics.


SEQUART: Your comics are interesting in that they have a lot of influences from outside the medium. In particular, video games, graffiti art, rock poster art and zine culture all seem to have been processed by you to develop your style. What would you say is your most important influence, and how do you integrate your many different sources of inspiration?

Enrico: I hate to say it, but it's very much video games. I honestly try to downplay this in my work as much as possible by not making "gamer" jokes or having characters gain extra lives or things like that. But in my childhood, the whole video game aesthetic was the first place a westerner could really get exposed to manga and anime style designs. And again I hate to admit it, because I generally don't like manga and anime, but certainly that is a huge influence on me. Especially the super deformed style. I can literally trace my whole desire to draw my little bobble-head people to a short scene in Project A-ko.

I think the reason you see so many different styles and aesthetics at play in my work is because I often feel limited by my own drawing ability. I always trying to get so much information across, and all I have to do it with is my little bobble-headed puppets; so I end up giving the comics this sort of hypertextuality. I guess I figured I could somewhat mask the fact the my comics are all just people talking to each other by bombarding you with excess information and explosions of arrows and stars. But I think we live in a hypertextual world, so it's not entirely surprising that it works. This gets back to the whole video game thing, where you have menus and graphics telling you home much health you have left etc. And a lot of the things I include are things I am very interested in anyways. I love 'zines and posters, so it's a great thrill for me to come up with fake ones.
SEQUART: How did you end up with your particular style of line and character designs? Was it trial and error to see what worked, or did you have a particular vision of what you wanted your characters to look like?

Enrico: I always drew my bobble-head people. Over time the have become more realistic. I've added noses, realistic hands, made them less squat and sausage like. But it's just kind of the way I always drew people, so I'm sure it expresses some inner reality about how I view the world.

SEQUART: There's a clear progression of your style from Stupid and Unkind to Jam In The Band. On the one hand, your line is clearer and more confident, with a more expressive and effective use of blacks. There's much less over-rendering in panels where you clearly were trying to work through a "scene-blocking" problem. On the other hand, that greater confidence seems to have led you into a less realistic and more stylized overall presentation. Did your greater facility as a draftsman "allow" you to get more abstract and expressive in Jam In the Band?

Enrico: I got better? Really? I mean I know I did, but I am surprised you think the blocking is better. I feel all my work suffers from an over usage of the medium from the torso-up shot. I just don't see the expressive value in feet. We say so much more with our hands and face. And since my books function primarily in the emotional realm, I feel I tend to do the same shot over and over again. But here is what HAS changed. Jam in the Band is all hand-lettered, for one. I cover it up on computer, but before there was no lettering in the panels, so I was always squeezing it in, instead of accounting for it on the page. I think I certainly always wanted my work to be as expressive as Jam in the Band is. But you're right, I just didn't have the ability to pull it off. For me, the Jam in the Band's cover was a huge break point for me. I say it in the book, but that cover is a homage to the Japanese cover of Jet Set Radio. Once I drew that cover I knew I could draw in that style, a style I love, so I just started putting it more and more into the book. And I really think Jam in the Band has a different kind of energy than any of my other books. I think [it] warrants all the ridiculous, ephemeral, decorative abstraction. Like drawing music. How do you draw music? You could show the band playing their instruments. But no matter how much detail you showed, it wouldn't really convey music being played. But I remember reading this awesome old comic about Johnny Cash playing music and being on drugs. There was some great= ass abstraction in that. I'm pretty sure that had some influence on the direction I took with Jam in the Band.

SEQUART: Have you read Understanding Comics? Do you agree with Scott McCloud that a simplified, more iconic character design allows you to express a greater range of emotions than a more naturalistic style?

Enrico: I love Scott's book and certainly agree with it now that you've mentioned it. But it's not anything I was doing consciously. I think people certainly respond more to my characters because they are iconic. Having owned multiple Hello Kitty wallets, I of all people understand the appeal of Sanrio products. I am not saying that they are a huge influence but I certainly prefer character designs that are simplified. It goes back to your question about cute characters with somber themes. I think the disparity works. You're drawn in by the sugary coating of the character design, enough so that you don't realize you're swallowing a rather bitter pill until it's too late. But what people don't realize is how hard it is to deal with complex emotions on a simplified character. Minute adjustments of the eye position can change the level of sadness or anger a character is expressing. So I end up spending hours in Photoshop slightly adjusting the position of the eyes, nose, eye brows and mouth of my characters. Because when you are relying SO much on the performance of the simplified people, the emotion that you trying to convey has to be rendered in crystal clarity.

SEQUART: You make extensive use of background details to tell your story (for example, the array of sex toys surrounding Becky Vice as she's telling a flashback)--is this a conscious decision to make the reader work a little bit harder for subtext rather than have it spoonfed to them through exposition?

Enrico: I was once told that not drawing good backgrounds was the hallmark of poor cartooning. I really took this to heart. And I realized that not expressing your ideas through your backgrounds was like trying to wrestle with one arm tied behind your back. I mean, you have this tool to further elaborate on whatever idea you are trying to get across, why wouldn't you use it? For me, subtext is REALLY important. I am always desperately trying to flush out characters, so anything I can do to get information across without having the characters directly say what we need to know about them, I do it. On top of that, the subtext is where I lay in most of my jokes. Becky Vice is a great example, she always acts as if no one else is in the room and just goes about her business as a pervert. Hopefully the audience can get a good laugh out of the ridiculousness of a person who doesn't even bother [to] clean up their dildos before being interviewed. But also, that should kind of inform you about who this person is.

SEQUART: On a similar note, what led your to having decorative aspects of your work often function as a form of emotional barometer?

Enrico: Again, it's getting information across. The style of my character is kind of limited. The eyes, nose and mouth are very simplified. At the same time, I am trying to cover a huge range of emotions. So I figure, since things are already so cartoon-y, there's no reason to not just have the characters' emotions spill out into the backgrounds. And besides that, it's usually an excuse to draw something more exciting than a character standing around discussing their feelings. Like in Jam in the Band 2, I have these dark tentacles of doubt wrapping themselves around Jennet while she discusses her artistic dilemma. In most cases I would have to be drawing a Hentai to have a reason to draw tentacles, but in this case it makes sense. Emotions are such an important part of my stories, why only hint at them subtly?

SEQUART: There's a flatness to your character design and your characters often tend to move in unusual ways through space. Is this the video game influence at play (a deliberate style) or a happy accident?

Enrico: Don't you get it? I can't draw! Ha ha. I don't know where I heard it. But someone once said. Comics can either be a schlocky movie or a kick- ass puppet show. I clearly fall more to the side of kick-ass puppet show. But it's like having the emotions spilling out into decorative elements. I know I am not really dealing in reality, so what does it matter if things don't function like they should? I certainly view the world I draw as having that whole paper cut-out on popsicle sticks aesthetic, but it rarely ever strays from that, and I think it generally makes the most of that. So like most things in my comics, it's just a happy accident that I just put my head down and ran with.

Girls's Guide To Guy's Stuff

SEQUART: How did you get involved in editing this anthology? How did your job as a video editor help or hinder you in this assignment?

Enrico: MK Reed called me up and wanted to know if I wanted to help her work on the anthology since we have worked together so much in the past. I of course said yes, since I wouldn't even be involved in comics if it weren't for her.

SEQUART: What was the most difficult part of editing the anthology?

Enrico: Getting people to contribute. Although mostly this was our own fault. Initially we sought out only the people we wanted, and only got a tepid response. But once we opened the submissions up to everyone, we were overwhelmed by the amount of awesome work we got.

SEQUART: What was the most rewarding part of the process?

Enrico: Just seeing some of the awesome work we got from not only artists we knew and loved (Hellen Jo, Liz Baillie, Dorthy Gambrell), but getting work from people MK and I had never heard of.

SEQUART: What was the process like in seeking out artists? What quality did the works you printed have that led to you choosing them? How much editing did you do on individual pieces? Did you ask artists to make changes on any pieces?

Enrico: When we started, MK and I made a list of all the female artists we liked (It was something like 100 artists and this is back in 2005, mind you, so it would be even more now) and emailed them about the project. However most of them were busy with their own projects, so we really weren't able to get a massive response until we sent out a press release to places like The Beat about how we were looking for submissions. We didn't really have to do too much editing on any of the pieces other than some minor lettering corrections here and there. We also had to chose a few pieces which just didn't fit the tone or caliber of the book. But in general it was a painless editing process.

SEQUART: How did you choose to sequence the comics in the book?

Enrico: A bunch of different criteria, actually. We would rank the pieces by how much we liked them, whether they were humorous or dramatic, what the artistic style was, etc. The main idea was not to load up any section of the book with too much of the same thing. I will say that we put Hellen's comic first because not only was it one of our favorites, but because it most exemplified what we were trying to do with the book. The whole "girl's comics aren't just pretty princesses and puppies" idea.

SEQUART: What was the eventual overall response to the book? How did it sell?

Enrico: You know, this is where I end up sucking. I don't really know how the book did. After I was done with it, I just got so wrapped up in my own projects that I forgot about promoting the book. But what the hell do I know about promotion anyways? I'll say this. Anyone who has read the book has enjoyed it. And I think that's what really matters. Is that FoL had a quality anthology of all female artists, that is accessible and enjoyable to both genders.

SEQUART: How did this experience affect your current understanding of how to put together a comic, if at all?

Enrico: I mean, MK and I had been doing comics anthologies as far back as college, so process-wise it wasn't super informative to me other than the whole getting it professionally printed part. There's nothing like being on the phone to LeBonFon in Canada where only one person there speaks English.

SEQUART: Who were the most pleasant surprises for you personally? Was there someone whose inclusion you fought for specifically?

Enrico: Hellen Jo. She is hands-down my favorite cartoonist working today. And someone I was hoping would get more attention from being in the book. I think that's something I didn't get across in your previous line of questions. What I wanted for GGtGS to do more than anything was, if at all possible, help further the careers of the cartoonists in it. I know Raina Telgemeier got her gig doing Baby Sitters Club because someone saw her piece in the previous FoL book, Broad Appeal. All I wanted was a similar success story to come out of GGtGS. Because I felt many of the women represented in that book certainly deserve wider recognition.

SEQUART: I believe you're still a member of Friends of Lulu, correct? What does being a part of that organization mean to you?

Enrico: I don't think I have been an active member for a long time, but let me say this. I think the issue of women in comics is honestly something I am estranged from. I say this, but I think my meaning is somewhat more complex. Most of the cartoonist I know are women, the two I am closest to (MK Reed and Liz Baillie) are women, [and] my non-cartoonist female friends all own and read comics. So I don't really see how there is a lack of female interest in comics. But on the flip side of this, I don't know shit about super hero comics. Like really, nothing. And I know women are supposedly into Manga, but again, I don't know dick about that either. I just feel like the whole women in comics thing is like the women who play video games thing. Like why is it still such a big deal? But this coming from a position of being around women who are into comics already, so what do I know?

The Comics Themselves

SEQUART: More than any other young cartoonist I know, you like to add text statements of purpose, inspiration and explanation at the end of your comics. What leads you to want to document your process and experiences making particular comics in such detail?

Enrico: Director's commentaries. Again, I am showing my film allegiance here. But if I enjoy a work of art, I always want to learn more about the artist and their art making process. Art isn't made in a vacuum. It's a response to the world in which we live in. So I assume my audience relishes being let into my mindset and my process as much as I do for other artists.

SEQUART: A running theme in your comics is the line between obsession and passion, and the ways in which your characters inevitably cross that line into addiction. Why is this idea so important to you?

Enrico: I grew up around addicts. I have bordered on junkie-ville many times myself. It's just something I know a lot about. Something I deal with just about everyday of my life. Even more so once I became an artist. Art making has become just like any of my other horrible habits. The William Burroughs character in Naked Lunch (film) talks about writing as being addicted to something that doesn't exist. I always identified with this. Because the highs I get from being an artist are quite unlike those from any other stimulus. Of course there's also something about the art making that enables my other minor substance abuse problems. Drinking (coffee or beer) goes hand in hand with my art making process.

SEQUART: The examination of obsession takes different forms in your comics. For example, Controller is about obsession-as-escape, and you stated that it's loosely autobiographical. The moment in the comic when Arlo says that his video game obsession was an attempt to fill a void that couldn't be satiated with material objects was a poignant one; did you have a similar lucid moment in your own life? Do you view creating art as a healthier form of working through obsessive behavior?

Enrico: Oh, most definitely. I am ALWAYS going to be an obsessive person. but art making allows me to channel that intense and dangerous energy towards a positive endeavor. Most of my other obsessions are about removing myself from society. And while sitting in my room drawing comics all day isn't that far removed from escapism, for me, the part of comics that is MOST rewarding is sharing my work with other artists and discussing art. Showing a new page to my two closest friends, MK Reed and Liz Baillie, and talking about comics is one of the highlights of my life.

SEQUART: In Stupid & Unkind, the surface obsession is Ronan's obsession with film, but the deeper one is his mental creation of this ideal woman who doesn't exist, and the way it cripples him socially and emotionally. Do you deliberately create your characters to be impulsive and short-sighted, to the point where it affects their ability to relate to others?

Enrico: What would be the fun of writing people who weren't fucked up and sabotaging themselves? I think this was my response to reading to many comics where the protagonist was either too perfect or cast themselves as the victim of circumstances supposedly beyond their control. I wanted to write a story about someone who IS impulsive and short-sighted and unable to compromise on their beliefs because that's more realistic and generally more interesting. Michael Hayes (Fabulous Freebirds) talks about how in wrestling, the best heels aren't the guys twirling their mustache telling you how evil they are, but the guys who do all kinds of fucked up things all the while maintaining that what they are doing is completely justified and in the right. So while Ronan acts like a total asshole most of the time, you can't help but follow what happens because he never once expresses any doubt about what he is doing.

SEQUART: Do you deliberately contrast your breezy, snappy dialogue and "cute" character design with your often downbeat themes?

Enrico: I think I start from the place of downbeat themes and then go about finding a way to make them fun. I've certainly been through some heart rending experiences in my life. But that doesn't preclude me from laughing about things and enjoying my life. I don't think my comics would be very interesting if they were told in a super serious and heavy way. I honestly am very disappointed if I can't include at least one or two funny or humorous things per page. I always feel like the audience will just toss my book down in disgust if things ever get too serious/dramatic. Also, this goes back to your question about subtext, I think people generally reveal more about their pain and heartbreak in funny and mundane ways than they do in dramatic moments. I worry sometimes that my dialogue is a little too contrived and a little too expository. Like would anyone talk to their friend about how lonely they are at the laundromat? But then I realize I have done this while hanging out and joking with my close friends.

SEQUART: Your comics resonate emotionally because it's clear that you're depicting a particular time, place and (most of all) scene. Why is it important for you to ground your themes so specifically in such temporal and physical settings?

Enrico: Because time and place are everything. I feel you go through emotional and physical phases in your life. There's the you, who you are in college, and this is tied to where you are and how old you are. And as you grow older and move on to different place, you change. And I think all these things reflect back in on each other. So I like to ground the narrative to a certain time and place in my characters lives to lend something concrete to the primarily emotional narrative.

SEQUART: Cartooning is a largely solitary existence. How important is collaboration to you? You've edited a book, you've drawn some comics that others have written (and vice-versa), and you tend to write about artists who work in collaborative fields (music, film). Why do you feel drawn to write about the collaborative arts?

Enrico: I tend write about the collaborative arts because I don't think they're that far removed from comics in terms of the dedication and effort you have to exert towards them, and the intense friendships you develop from them. I have a friend who has played in bands for years now and the language she uses to describe being in a band is almost interchangeable with the language I use to describe doing comics. I think it relates back to the whole community aspect of comics. Yes, I do draw alone a lot of the time. But other times I draw with large groups of people or close friends. And I am very lucky in that I always have MK and Liz to show my work to and discuss it with them.

SEQUART: A related question: how important is the idea of a comics community to you? Can you describe the ways in which your own immediate community has been important to you? What do you get out of going to shows like MOCCA and SPX?

Enrico: I have touched on this other places. But the comics community has meant just about everything to me since I graduated from college. I feel very blessed to know so many amazing and creative people through doing comics. And going to shows like SPX and MoCCA is a great way to see all those people who don't live close by as well as meet other artist I have never gotten a chance to meet yet. Not to mention that conventions give me the excuse to travel to cities like Portland and San Francisco. And the conventions usually serve as a great excuse for all us weird, socially awkward artists to get together and have a party. SPX is especially great as MK Reed, Liz Baillie and I have been co-ordinating our own awards show (The Nerdlinger Awards) and a post-Ignatz Karaoke jam for the last 3 years.

SEQUART: You've noted that Bianca is a version of yourself in Jam In The Band: the obsessive outsider, the driven artist focused on goals instead of relationships. Do you see her as a cautionary version of yourself? In particular, you've set up an opposition in the comic of one obsessing over one's art vs seeking human connections. Is this a balance you find yourself navigating as an artist?

Enrico: Most definitely. I don't even know if Bianca is a cautionary version of myself, because the more time that wears on, the more I find myself to be like her. Maybe it's the other way around. But certainly my artistic life and my romantic life have often stood at odds with each other. And even more so, and this was the inspiration for the book. I saw my friends subverting their artistic goals for romantic stability. At the time I felt like this was a huge betrayal. I think Bianca is meant to be less cautionary and more informative. As if to say, if you follow this path, there are rewards, but there are most certainly also huge prices you have to pay. I think that's the case with anyone who decides to reject a conventional lifestyle. If anything, writing Bianca has allowed me to stop caring about the isolation you deal with as an artist. I have my art, I have my friends, I have a very full life without being someone's significant other, why would I want to give up my freedoms?

SEQUART: Do you see this ultimately as an either/or decision, at least for yourself?

Enrico: Ha Ha, I love what a therapy session this interview has become. I really hope people don't think I am just a totally morose, cynical, dour motherfucker. I was at an all-Japanese rock and roll band concert tonight and had a fucking great time. Totally stage dived, my man. Anyways! I think this whole romance versus personal freedom thing in my personal life, it's like everything else in my life. I have to find a way of doing things differently from what's normal. I certainly haven't ruled out the idea of romance in Bianca's life, so it's hard to cut it out of mine. But for both of us it just can't be at the cost of our hard won personal freedom. I think that's the other thread running through Stupid and Unkind and Jam in the Band, and is probably my deeper message. Why settle for anything less than everything you want? Better to fail even though you gave your all, than to never even try.

I was listening to Metallica while I typed this, so here's some lyrics from their cover of Diamond Head's "Helpless" that were relevant to me even back in high school. I figure this is kind of thing Bianca thinks as well.

I can see the stars, I can see what's going on
Every night alone, I sing my songs just for fun
Only time will tell if I make it myself someday
The stage is mine, music is my destiny
Cannot squeeze the life from me

SEQUART: Do you see comics as a lifelong avocation, or do you see yourself wanting to try your hand at other arts?

Enrico: I certainly see myself as doing comics for the rest of my life. I am constantly advancing and learning more and improving my craft. No matter how tumultuous the circumstances of my life, comics has always provided me a welcome outlet for all my creative energies. And there's so many things I want to say through art, and I never found a better means to express them than through comics.

SEQUART: After the interview was completed, Robin wanted to elaborate a bit on a few of his responses:

Enrico: Rob, I wanted to say, your line of questions in this interview was good. Scary good, in fact. You seemed to hit on things that no one else even notices. But I felt like something got lost in all my responses. And that is this. For all my self deprecation and critique on both a personal and artistic level, I went out there and did it. I set out to make comics having NO drawing experience and I fucking did it. And I think the results are works that are really worthy of attention. So as heavy as this interview has been I am really deeply positive about comics as a motivating force in my life. They've helped me define myself and better come to terms with who I am. They've helped me make the dearest and truest friends I have ever had in my life. The gave me a voice when for most of my life I was told to shut up. They made me feel special when most of my life I was told I wasn't. I don't want people to think I am martyring myself for my art. But I do feel that art is one thing that is really worth sacrificing yourself for. And I don't want people to think that my art is something that makes me unhappy. It makes me happier than anything else. That's really the problem. I have a hard time being happy doing anything else but relentlessly making or engaging in other people's art. But I deep down hope I can serve as an inspiration to people who felt like I used to. Who feel like they don't fit in and just want to shout out their feelings. Because I did it and it was the best thing I ever did with my life. And as difficult as it is, every time I move farther and farther away from what is considered normal, and just ferociously go after the things I want and enjoy, the happier I am.

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