Mimi Pond: "MAD was our communist manifesto"
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In the 1980s Mimi Pond was a cartoonist and illustrator for such publications as the National Lampoon, the Village Voice, The New York Times, Seventeen Magazine, Adweek, and too many more to mention, as well as writing and illustrating five humor books, beginning with the national best-seller, The Valley Girls’ Guide to Life. She wrote the first episode of the animated series, The Simpsons, and has written for other television shows as well.
With her husband, the artist Wayne White, she moved to Los Angeles in 1990 and since then has continued to write and to draw cartoons for numerous national magazines.
In 2014, her graphic novel, Over Easy, a fictionalized account of her post-art school waitressing career in Oakland, California in the late 1970s, was published by Drawn & Quarterly and has been on the New York Times Best Seller List.
Dean and I enjoyed chatting with Mimi. Her are a few things she talked about:
Graphic novels: I have been enjoying a number of graphic novels recently. My favorite artists include Vanessa Davis, Miriam Katin, Joe Ollman, Joyce Farmer, Seth, Rutu Modan, Esther Pearl Watson, Leela Corman, Lauren Weinstein, Judith Vanistendael, Derf Backderf. I prefer things that have real storylines, real narratives. There’s so much stuff out there that may be well-executed from a technical standpoint, or really perfect-looking, but when there’s a real dearth of good writing, it just adds up to a big fat nothing. Also it’s kind of unnerving when things are too perfect. I prefer the drawing to look a little funky, like the artist got their boogers and their blood on it while they were drawing. Mad Magazine, both the Bantam paperback re-issues of the EC originals, and 1960s Mad Magazine were like our bible, our communist manifesto in my house while I was growing up. I will just straight up tell you I have no interest in anything superhero, or action-adventure, or science-fiction related. I just don’t care about that stuff! I resent being made to feel like because of some comics tradition I should school myself and APPRECIATE the artistry of all the “great” superhero comics artists. I mean, I do appreciate it, but at the same time, especially growing up as a girl, there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN IT FOR ME. The girls very rarely got to be in on the action, they were just there to get in trouble and then get saved. That’s boring. And even with characters like Wonder Woman, who goes around saving the world...I’m not interested in saving the world. I’m interested in complex characters and human relationships and moral ambiguity.
Books: I could go on and on. I love to read biographies and autobiographies from high to low. Like, everything from a bio of Edith Wharton (brilliant author! horrible anti-semite!) to Zsa-Zsa Gabor’s One Life is Not Enough - (big fat liar). I read ‘em all. In terms of fiction, I love (like I said) Edith Wharton, Nabokov, Patricia Highsmith. I love narratives where the hero or heroine is really kind of horrible, but the author MAKES you cheer them on anyway. I love that kind of complexity.
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