Hostile Questions: Lisa Brown

Lisa Brown may be the most anonymous name since “John Smith,” but damn if she isn’t out to own that particular Google search. No demographic is safe from her bestselling authoring and illustrating and cartooning and general overall excelling (examples: Picture the Dead, How to Be). Sources tell me that she also cohabits with Lemony Snicket. You think that scares Hostile Questions? Cheating death is what I do, man. I’m like a fireman. But even hunkier. Anyhoo, enough about me.

Just who do you think you are?

Ahhh, I’m loving all this hostility. You see, I’m from New England via Long Island. I live in San Francisco and sometimes find the lack of bitterness and indifference in my everyday social interactions a bit intimidating. So THANK YOU, asshole.

Who am I? I am a small, spectacled, frizzy-haired person who likes to sit alone in a room and drink coffee and draw things all day. I occasionally dip my paintbrushes in my coffee cup. I occasionally take an accidental sip of the brush water. It’s an occupational hazard.

(L-R) Mr. Snicket, Dwarf Stolen from Circus, Ms. Brown.

(L-R) Mr. Snicket, Dwarf Stolen from Circus, Ms. Brown.

Where do you get off?

With my husband, usually.

What’s the big idea?

I’ve been working on this graphic novel about an ex-conjoined twin on the lam from an early-20th Century circus sideshow so I’ve been thinking really hard about physical anomalies. And antique prosthetics: O, how I adore them. In the Museum of Surgery in Scotland I saw a metal prosthetic jaw that was worn by a veteran of the Crimean war, complete with a hairy mustache. It was GORGEOUS.

So this is the thing: I get obsessed with things. I got obsessed with Civil War prison camps and spirit photography, and ended up co-creating this crazy illustrated historical novel with the fabulous author Adele Griffin. I was obsessed with the Pope and illustrated this book of Papal fashion tips written by someone calling himself “The Pope.” I have been obsessed with vampires and witches and ghosts my whole damn life so I have a picture book about them and more in the works. Right now the obsession is Egyptology. And freak shows. And prosthetic limbs. Oh, and literature, naturally. Always with the reading. That’s why I do this cartoon strip book review for the San Francisco Chronicle.

My son is turning out to have the same kind of obsessive personality. Right now it’s all about traffic lights. He’s written and illustrated a number of traffic-light-based books already. He’s looking for a publisher, if anyone’s interested.

What is your problem, man?

My deadly sin of choice is rage. I am 1/3 shy person, 2/3 misanthrope. I am painfully addicted to Twitter (@lisabrowndraws) and Tumblr. I am completely OCD and yet a secret slob. I have always been too short to reach the water glasses. I am not overly fond of children or animals, but I seem to love to draw them both. I adore cocktails, but half a martini is enough to sink me.

Haven’t you done enough?

That’s my other problem. I haven’t done enough. I want to do about a gazillion more books but it takes so damn long for me to draw things. Especially when you are the kind of drawer like me, which involves a LOT of erasing and redrawing and whiteout. And then there’s the Twitter and Tumblr problem, mentioned above. And funny YouTube videos of people falling down. It’s a losing battle, world without end.

Now go away.

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About the Author:

Dan Kraus, senior editor at Booklist is the producer and director of numerous feature films, most notably the documentary Work Series, and the author of several YA novels, including Rotters and Scowler, both of which won the Odyssey Award.

1 Comment on "Hostile Questions: Lisa Brown"

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  1. Great interview but boy, does that Lisa sound like a real piece of work. I bet she was even worse in college…

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