I met Missy Kulik at an indie media conference where I was doing a DIY Books seminar. I picked up a couple of her comics and we’ve kept in touch ever since. Her first book, Personal Charm, was self-published in June: or as the copyright page more originally puts it, “First Pressing June 2005.” We chatted by email about her book, which has its roots in ten years of zine making.
I like how you mention not only when something happened, but how much time has passed before you drew it. Can you talk about the process there? Do you make notes?
I was doing a daily comic every day for over two years, and drawing weekly with my friend Todd Bak. I would sit at work or home and write what I did each day to try and make a comic out of something, even if it was just about the weather or my cat. Then, when Todd and I got together, I would do a whole week’s worth of journals in a night, so there is the date it happened and the date I drew the comic. That was always more for my records than the reader, so I was not sure if people paid attention to the dates like I do. Needless to say, I got a little burnt out on the whole thing, so I stopped, but I plan to begin again January first. Hopefully.
Can you talk about the title? How do you feel about charm in other people, yourself?
I didn’t want to call the book Pocket, like my zine, and we were watching Irene Moon’s performance and a slide came on and it had retro clip-art and said “Personal Charm.” I thought that would make a good title for my book, or any book I would make in the future. I guess I see it as almost a “charmed life” sort of thing, cos I do not know what I would be doing if it weren’t for the people I met through my zines and comics.
As for charm in other people, I feel some people are, some aren’t. You just have to look hard sometimes!
You write about a lot of stuff, car accidents to sock monkeys. Are there things that you don’t make comics about? Why not?
Yeah, I do censor myself. There are some of the journal comics I do for myself that I would not show the person that they are about. I don’t want people to feel like I am out to get them in my work! I like to disguise things, I guess, like silly stuff, like liking boys or dreams, whatever. Slumber party stuff, like that.
What was the worst and the best thing about making this book yourself?
The best is getting reviewed in funny places like Giant Robot and seeing what others say about it, and gaining a new audience. The hardest part is distribution while holding a full time job.