Why have you started with Working Beauty?
The simple answer: Well, I had to. The more complex answer is: I don’t know exactly why. I guess, at some point in my career I just missed doing comics and I missed the characters I used to create when I was still in school and university. It wasn’t just comics it was about creating an alternate reality where me and my friends could find ourselves in and do anything and cope with anything.
What do you mean with coping?
Well, as an example, at university some of my friends and I, we just dated those horrible guys, who either dumped us, or cheated on us… I can’t really remember all of it. And so I created short comic strips where we would kill them in the most horrific ways (think Piranha 3D meets Killer Germs or something)! My friends could contribute their ideas and I would draw it… It was a blast! It helped us deal with the resentment and move on, and laugh about it! And those were my first black and white and red comics. The red was for the blood! Those were very gruesome deaths, I tell you!
Can we see them?
Maybe one day… I recently looked through my back catalogue, and I think some comics could still be a fun read for fans of Working Beauty, if you can overlook the shabby drawings. I used to work much quicker but also less defined in those times. Well if anyone’s interested in reading them, let me know, I am really happy to put some work in them and make them available online! My personal favourite is still “T*ts of Steel and A*ses of Marble” a take on Greek Mythology… It’s like “300” or “Immortals” just mainly with women!
So you’re saying that the characters in the comics are people you know?
Not really. The company for example is purely fictional and most characters are pure fiction too. But of course I would be lying if I denied that I base SOME characters on my own personality traits and also personality traits I observed in others. But even if I modeled a character on someone I know, the figure usually takes a life of its own and develops in ways that has nothing to do with the person. Or the other way around, the comic character stagnates. I have a friend who broke her foot fallling off a horse and had a cast years ago, that went into my idea to give Sólrun a cast and a horse. Now my friend is long out of her cast (which was not heel-shaped by the way) and doesn’t use a wheelchair… So yes, life imitates art, and sometimes art imitates life, it’s all connected. But it’s not the same!
So are you still coping with something when you do Working Beauty?
human female condition! That’s that! I have a certain perspective on our current corporate culture and the organizational systems we have created, and I think some of that is detrimental to the human condition. I can’t change it, but it’s my way to deal with it, by trying to make some of the inconsistencies visible and let our comic heroines struggle with it. I also deliberately said “female” condition in the beginning, because my point of view and my “suffering” is a female one.
What is the “female suffering”?
I think it has so many aspects that we are not even aware of it all. I think it boils down to the expectations we have. I’m going to out myself AGAIN as a big fan of RuPaul. In the most recent episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” called “Countdown to the Crown” RuPaul was playing the female news anchor and when the advertisement break was coming up she took out a cake from underneath the table and started icing it. In the next segment after announcing the next break she got out a juicer and started shoving carrots into it, smirking sexily to the camera. I thought that was so brilliant and so funny… A woman can’t be JUST a great news anchor, in our minds she also (STILL) has to be a great housewife… and those scenes just again showed how ridiculous that is! If anything, that’s exactly what I would love Working Beauty to be! Confrontational in a very funny way… but having people go “mmmh… “…
Do you think Working Beauty is achieving its intent?
I don’t know. The comments I get from readers are positive and there were a couple of episodes where I thought I really hit the mark (eg. the HR episode in the very first season where I got quite a big response). But it’s difficult to say. I also realize that my purpose has only recently started to really take shape, and I am starting to become more focused. I realize Working Beauty always had that “social commentary” thing going on, but maybe I used Working Beauty a bit to deal with my own resentment at the beginning, and now I am actually moving into something more purposeful, if that makes sense? Some of the ideas (even for the artist corner) come to me in dreams, and sometimes I wake up and think “this is what I have to do”. But saying that, I also wanted to give up on Working Beauty many times… There were many moments when I thought “oh there’s no point, just go and find yourself a day job again”… But I haven’t given up yet, because in those dark times, there’s always a person who comments or mails something really nice and supportive… and I go like “oh it’s still worth it”. And there’s always a voice in me that says it is important, and that I should continue. I still think that voice is wrong and wonder whether I should ask my doctor to give me some pills to shut it up… but… for the time being I am motivated to continue… so…
So how is Working Beauty going forward?
I never know… that’s the honest truth. Right now I needed to bring some really silly parodies into the world and we’re still going to see a take on “Titanic”, “Planet of the Apes” and “Lord of the Rings”. But at some point I will start on the new Season which will include a big surprise, and certainly go into a new direction than the previous one.
Is Molly coming back?
I don’t know how the story evolves, I certainly haven’t planned it for the beginning of the fourth Season! She is in Greenland now, she is happy. That’s all I know. But as with everything, I’d say “never say never”!