Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Questions 35: Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg

Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg is a cartoonist and educator who lives and works in Portland, Oregon.  After spending her formative years in the Garden State, the Big Apple and...Connecticut, she relocated to Portland, Oregon.

She self-publishes the comic series I Cut My Hair and has appeared in the anthologies Papercutter, Bird Hurdler, and Bearfight!. She is also a member of the studio Tranquility Base. You can listen to Lisa talking about her comics here as part of Multnomah County Library’s “Zinesters Talking” series.

Lisa is available for illustration and comics work. Curently she is open an art exhibit with Terry Blas at the Independent Publishing Resource Center opening April 7.

And to note:   For someone so short, she is pretty loud.

What projects are you working on currently?
I'm working on two comics projects right now: a minicomic called "Painful Vices," which is the story of a monster-creature going through a breakup, told as a series of vignettes about his increasingly bad habits.  I'm also working on an as-yet untitled young adult graphic novel about a nine year old girl and her eighteen year old babysitter, how their lives overlap and diverge.  I'm still scripting that one out but plan to begin illustrating and shopping it around within the year.  

What is your artistic Process?
When I'm starting a comic it generally begins with a few notes in my sketchbook about some plot points or my general story idea, accompanied by some rough doodles of what I imagine the characters would look like.  I usually add to these notes and drawings over time, before transitioning to writing out a script in Word.  Then there is a back and forth between writing the script and drawing out quick rough drafts of the panels, and after that I figure out how I want to arrange those panels on a page--this is my final thumbnailing.  Once my thumbnails are all done I move on to penciling out the comic pages with an HB pencil on vellum bristol board, and then inking with a Rapidograph pen.  Usually I ink a panel right after I finish penciling it, but I'm trying to move away from this and get the whole page penciled first. 

When are story illustrator, how involved are you in the writing?
I have only ever written my own scripts.  But for me the writing and illustrating are very much intertwined.  

What Comic/ Trade would you recommend?
Papercutter has a great variety of cartoonists and writers showcasing their stuff.  I also highly recommend Ivy and am excited to finally see it in hardcover! 

What Comic/ Trade would you recommend to someone new to comics?
Calvin and Hobbes collections are always a winner.  Clutch has been a hit when I've recommended it to others.  I'm always singing the praises of Lynda Barry to those who have never heard of her, or are not readers of comics in general. 

How involved are you with the illustration, the look and feel, of the books you write?
I've never written something that I haven't illustrated.  Though I think it would be far more challenging for me to write for someone else than to be the artist for someone else's script.  

What skill would you like to learn?
To get better at inking with a brush.  Also to learn Spanish. 

What's the most important thing you've learned?
If you keep drawing you are bound to get better.  Simple, but true, and easily forgotten.  

Do you have a collection?   If so, what is one of the items you're most proud of?
I do have a lot of comics, though I don't know if I'd call it a collection.  I am pretty proud of my out-of-print copy of Lynda Barry's "Come Over, Come Over," which I had autographed by her at Portland's Wordstock 2008. 

What is your favorite genre of Comics?
 I'm not sure if I have a favorite genre...I have a special appreciation for historical fiction for sure, though I wouldn't say it's my favorite.

Do you have an Ipad?   If so what do use it for the most.
Nope! I do have an ipod, though, and it's six years old.  
What is your favorite TV show/ movie?
Ok, I've got two ties....TV it's between Mad Men and My So-Called Life (sometimes I'm in a 60s mood and sometimes I'm in a 90s mood...); movies it's between Harold and Maude and Annie Hall. 

How does the Portland comics culture shapes your work?
I owe a lot to the comics culture of Portland.  Although I have always loved drawing and writing (though the love of writing did come a little later), I didn't start to seriously work on making comics until I moved here.  Immediately I met other cartoonists  who I could look to for feedback and input, and eventually this lead to my joining Tranquility Base, a studio of cartoonists, writers, and illustrators.  The zine and self-publishing culture in Portland has also helped--with the Independent Publishing Resource Center and institutions like Reading Frenzy and the Portland Zine Symposium, I saw a clear way to begin reproducing and distributing my work. 
What was your first comic convention?
My first comic convention that I ever attended was SPX in 2004, and the first one where I sold my work was Stumptown 2007.  

What is your favorite part of comic conventions?
My favorite part of comic conventions is that I feel so much a part of the comics community.  I am inspired by all the work I see around me, by the energy...I leave conventions with a sense of direction and energy, and I love carrying that feeling out with me.

If you weren’t doing comics what would you do?
Well, currently I divide my time between comics and working with middle and high schoolers, so most likely I would be a full-time teacher.  Probably history. 

What comics do your kids like?  What was/is your favorite character?
No kids of my own, but I do have a bunch of kids I work with, and they prefer manga, hands down. 

Do you have a favorite restaurant that you would recommend?
It's hard to pick one favorite, but the Vita Cafe on Alberta is up there. 

How long have you lived in Portland, what made you choose Portland?
I have lived in Portland for four and a half years; I moved here a few months after I graduated college.  I grew up in New Jersey and back then New York was my city.  I loved it and growing up I was convinced that not only would I live there, but that once I did life would be better in all respects.  Then I spent a semester in New York, and had a more difficult time than I thought I would.  So that was a major shock, and it left me with a desire to explore other cities and other parts of the country.  That summer I took a job as a counselor in southern Oregon.  I had already heard Portland was beautiful, but once I visited I was really drawn in.  And of course I knew that there were a fair number of cartoonists here, and thought it would be a good place to make comics.  Another friend of mine from school was thinking of moving here as well, so at the start of our senior year we made a pact to move together.  She left about a year ago but I'm still here...I would like to make a return to New York eventually and give it another go, but for now I'm still really enjoying living in Portland. 

What is your favorite part of Portland?
There are many parts of Portland I like for different reasons...I can never pick just one favorite of anything!  But if I had to choose I'd say the Skidmore Bluffs.

Where in Portland/ Oregon would you most like to visit?
I really haven't adequately explored the coast, and I'd like to see more of it.  Maybe Astoria; I've never been there. 

Would you like to Illustrate for another media? or conversely, how would you feel about Illustrate a comic of a character from a different media, for example, Dr. Who, James Bond?  What would you explore?
Yes, I think I'd be interested in that.  Maybe a graphic novel version of "The Catcher in the Rye" would be a terrible idea, but I'd have a lot of fun drawing Holden Caufield, I think. 

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