How does one reconcile the desire to be alone while simultaneously craving companionship? Throughout her book, Bell is pulled in opposite directions — to connect with others and to retreat.
“People! They are so annoying, yammering away with their opinions and feelings and anecdotes and advice. I sit and wait for them to go away, and even after they do their voices continue to yammer in my head,” she writes. “All the little things they say, they sting and bite and wear you down. I‘d rather be eaten alive by insects.”
While that sounds gloomy, don’t be fooled: Bell’s work is bursting with heart. Her keen eye for detail and empathetic, introspective voice results in comics that are joyful, unexpected and often refreshingly hilarious.
The article also features a very nice interview with Gabrielle, here’s a sample:
Tell me about your diary comics. What is the purpose of recording everything in the diary comics?
I used to always keep a personal comic journal. But doing comics takes so long, I’d end up doing a diary all day long, it was so compulsive, and I’d had to get in so many details, so I started publishing it just to feel like I wasn’t wasting all my time.
I used them to work through things, to try to find meaning in things. Life is so chaotic, so you try to create some system. I have to admit that these diaries that I’ve published are all about my basic coping with being alive.
When I would go on trips, I wanted to have something come out of it. If I went to Oslo for a week, I wanted to have this image of Oslo, this recording of day-to-day life in Oslo. It was a challenge for me to make something funny and interesting.