Kelso Tells "Artichoke Tales"

Tue, June 22nd, 2010 at 11:58am PDT

Comic Books
Alex Dueben, Staff Writer
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A decade in the making, Megan Kelso's "Artichoke Tales" is now available

Megan Kelso has been working in comics for two decades. In that time, the acclaimed cartoonist has received a 1993 Xeric grant for minicomics series "Girlhero," won two Ignatz Awards and her story "Watergate Sue" was one of the comics serialized in the "New York Times Magazine." Kelso has also published two books of short comics, 1998's "Queen of the Black Black" and 2006's "The Squirrel Mother."

Fantagraphics has just published Kelso's first graphic novel, "Artichoke Tales," a project that Kelso worked on intermittently for a decade. The book is a multigenerational saga of a family in the midst of a nation torn apart by civil war. Such a story, complete with maps and a family tree, isn't what one would necessarily expect from Kelso, but the book is also about family, stories within stories and the challenges of growing up with all the precision and depth that her readers have come to expect from the creator. CBR spoke with Kelso recently about her the new book, her approach to storytelling and much more.

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CBR News: I remember reading part of "Artichoke Tales" years ago. You've been working on the book for a while, haven't you?

Megan Kelso: I have. I started the first chapter in 1999. It hasn't been continuous because other projects have intervened, freelance jobs or just other comics. I had a baby somewhere in the middle of that. I moved to New York and then I moved back from New York. There were a lot of periods, lasting up to six months or so, where I wasn't working on it at all. But yeah, it was a ten year project.

The cover to Kelso's "Artichoke Tales"
When you started, did you think it would take this long?

No. [Laughs] I have a file box with all of my notes regarding this book and there are so many schedules, which now are hilarious, where I plotted out it will take me four months to finish this chapter and I'll have the whole thing done by 2001!

In my edition of your book "The Squirrel Mother," it mentions that Fantagraphics will be releasing "Artichoke Tales" in 2007.

And I updated my website a few times saying it's going to be done by this date, but that never happened. We moved from New York back to Seattle in late 2007, and then I just decided, "Okay, I've really got to wrap this up." I put my nose to the grindstone and pretty much worked on it steadily until it was done. I wanted to make it under ten years, and I did. Not in terms of the publication date, but in terms of finishing the work.

Where did the idea start, because the book feels very different from your short stories.

When I was self-publishing my comic book "Girlhero," I think it was issue #5, I did a story with the artichoke people. It was a ten page story - it was pretty short. That story came from just a doodle that I started doing one summer. If I was talking on the phone, I kept drawing these artichoke-head people. They looked like the little sidekick of the Jolly Green Giant, Sprout. I just kept drawing these little cartoons and I reached this point where I thought I really want to do a story about these people.

I did the story for "Girlhero," and it just opened up in my mind, this world. I think at the time I knew a lot of cartoonists who were doing stories in some world that they had created. Jon Lewis was doing "True Swamp." Jason Lutes had started "Berlin," and that's a historical comic, but he was having to recreate a historical period and there's a lot of world building involved in doing something like that. That was just on my mind. That it's a whole subset of comics and storytelling, making up your own world and playing inside of it. I just thought this would be a really fun world to do a whole involved family saga. I planned out the skeleton of the story pretty much right from the beginning. At first, I thought it was going to be a three chapter thing, and then it got more complicated, but always I had this idea of this family and these generations. The details changed over the years, but the basic structure I pretty much had in place from the very start.

It's interesting to hear that the structure and the basic idea was there from the very beginning. How did it evolve over the years?

It definitely evolved, but like I said, the structure, dealing with the characters in the present day and going back to her parents and grandparents and telling the historical stories of their culture and then coming back to the present at the end, that whole idea I had from the very beginning. I've always been fascinated by family sagas and stories within stories, and so I knew I really wanted to do that. The details of the stories totally changed over time and totally changed as a result of moving to New York in the middle of it. That had a really big influence, because I was really homesick for Seattle and the West Coast the whole time I was on the East Coast. Making the world look more like my home definitely came to the foreground in a way that [it] hadn't when I started the story and was living in Seattle. Also, I was doing this series of historical stories when I was living in New York, about Alexander Hamilton. Those really changed my thinking about dealing with history in comics. Even though I would agree with you that my short stories, especially on the surface, are really different from "Artichoke Tales," a lot of the same concerns and the same themes are there.

I think that's true. History, and family and stories within stories - all these are present in the short stories. You mentioned the landscape, which has not been something you dealt with your short stories much. Was it designed to resemble the Northwest?

It's funny, because it did not start out that way. When I started the story, I was living in Seattle. I'd lived here all my life, and really I couldn't almost see it in the way you don't see what you're in. I, basically at that point, designed the landscape just to create a contrast between the North and the South. I thought of the North as more rugged and coastal and the South as more mountainous and warmer and a gentler landscape. I was basically trying to come up with a landscape that was relatively easy to draw, so that I wouldn't get bogged down with backgrounds. Then I moved to New York, and really, I was basically homesick from the day I got there. When I worked on "Artichoke Tales," it was really neat, I would draw something and it would remind me of the Northwest. That started becoming a much more important part of the book. I started specifically putting stuff in there that made me think about the Northwest, that was soothing to recreate in the stories, but that never was that was never an idea from the beginning, so I had to work with what I'd already established. I'd already drawn two chapters of the book and I needed it to remain visually consistent. It's not exactly like I am drawing the Northwest landscape, but I borrowed some things that I love, like the beaches and the dense forests and stuff like that.

Some pages from "Artichoke Tales"

One of the hallmarks of your stories are that they're told through body language, they involve unexplained behavior and there's a lot of ambiguity in a way that's not often seen in comics. Where did your approach to depicting people and relationships come from?

Well, I had a really good English teacher in eleventh grade who hammered home the "show, don't tell" idea. [Laughs] The other idea hammered home was "use specific details." I'm joking, but I'm serious at the same time. Those are the cornerstones of good storytelling whether it's comics or movies or radio. Those are two very basic principles that I try very hard to take to heart in my work. Also, I feel that I'm more influenced by the books and novels that I read as a kid and a teenager, more than anything. I didn't really read a lot of comics as a kid. I really only started reading comics when I started doing them, and I guess I always was drawn to stories that were not totally conclusive, that contained a lot of ambiguity and left you wondering. A book I really loved in my early twenties was "Sometimes a Great Notion" by Ken Kesey. I still don't know what that book was about, and yet there's something that draws me back over and over again. I think I've read it three times, and I still don't really get it. And yet, "getting it" is not the most important thing in terms of appreciating art. At least, that's the way I feel. Understanding at the end of reading what the author intended I don't think is necessarily the most important thing. I think the most important thing is that, while you're in it, you're totally caught up in and engaged and your mind is left thinking and sort of believing that world existed.

I think when I first started doing comics, I really erred on the side of oblique, and often people did not understand what my stories were about. I was trying to show, don't tell, but I didn't know how to show very well, so it left my readers confused. It's a tightrope to show enough that you can get some points across, but not completely reveal your hand. You're always asking yourself, "Am I telling too much? Should I leave some of this out? Is this so oblique that it's just going to turn people off?" It's a difficult line to walk, but I like to err on the side of leaving the reader wondering rather than spelling it all out. When the creator completely spells it all out, I often feel insulted, like they think I'm not smart enough to figure this out on my own and so they have to tell me. I always hate that feeling. I get that feeling a lot from Steve Spielberg movies. I love Spielberg. I think his work is really beautiful and I love the kinds of stories that he tells, but he always seems to be, "I've got to tell them exactly where I'm going with this." I feel like he doesn't trust us enough, and that always makes me mad. Instead of just letting his beautiful imagery and his interesting stories just unfold and let us figure it out. So that's always been a primary goal for me in my work, not to be Steven Spielberg. [Laughs]

It's interesting that you say literature influenced you more than comics, because reading your work, I think of it as in same spirit as writers like Ann Beattie or Raymond Carver.

Raymond Carver, Ann Beattie, that minimalist stuff was really dominant when I was in school. Hemingway. Growing up when I did, that was the literary ideal. Not saying so much was considered a better way to go. It's interesting that a lot of writers from my generation have rejected that. Dave Eggers. David Foster Wallace - all these very baroque writers, and they're kind of the same age as me and they were like, "To hell with this minimalist crap. I want to say everything." I guess I'm more respectful of my elders. [Laughs] I've also been really influenced by Alice Munro. I just love love love love her work and have definitely borrowed some of her techniques in my comics.

What is it you enjoy about the short story? Pretty much all of your comics output has been short stories, and even "Artichoke Tales" is told as a series of stories that fit together.

It's funny. When I was doing "Girlhero," I embarked on this long epic called "Bottlecap," which I did manage to finish, but not in a very satisfying way. I've always really admired novelists and long stories. When I was struggling with "Bottlecap," I would do these short stories to fill out the issue, and they came a lot easier. I guess there are some cartoonists and some writers for whom the short form works better. They're more naturally adept at it. I would put Adrian Tomine in that category. I know he's done long work, but I really think his finest work has been his short stories. Alice Munro is an obvious example. She's only written one novel in her entire career, and it's good, but the stuff that really stays with people is the short stories. Maybe that's how it is for me, too. I'm still drawn towards long complicated things, but you're right, I did do "Artichoke Tales," in a way, as a connected group of short stories.

More pages from "Artichoke Tales"

You mentioned that you didn't really start reading comics until you started making them. When was that?

When I was in college. I had always drawn a lot. I love to draw and I actually started out going to art school. That didn't work out very well, so I dropped out and went to this liberal arts college here in Washington State called Evergreen. I wasn't doing art, I was studying mostly history and political science, but I had this boyfriend who loved comics. He couldn't draw at all and he really admired how I was able to draw. He began this campaign to get me to draw comics and he would try and interest me in various things. I kinda thought comics were cool, but none of them really grabbed me until he showed me "Dirty Plotte" by Julie Doucet, and that just totally rocked my world. It really changed my life because it was the first comic I looked at where I thought, "Oh, I really want to do something like that. That is really what I want to do."

I had struggled for years, wanting to write stories, but also liking to draw and hating to write descriptions and just not being able to figure out how to put all of my creative stuff together, and "Dirty Plotte" kind of showed me the way. Then, when I started actually trying to make a comic, I realized how difficult it was and how there was this whole structure and language that you had to figure out. I started reading a lot of comics, just to learn and figure out how do people do this. How do people solve these various problems? I got really into "Hate" and "Eightball" and "Love and Rockets" and all that Fantagraphics stuff and the Drawn and Quarterly stuff. I learned a tremendous amount. Then I moved to Seattle after college and met a bunch of cartoonists who were living here, like Jason Lutes and Jon Lewis and Ed Brubaker and James Sturm. They taught me a tremendous amount about comics and I got really interested in reading their work. But yeah, it wasn't like I had this background knowledge of having read comics as a kid, which the majority of cartoonists have. Their love of comics began in childhood, and I don't really have that.

It must not have been too long after college, then, that you won the Xeric grant.

I moved to Seattle after I graduated from college, and the first cartoonist I met was Jason [Lutes], who I met through my sister. He knew a lot of cartoonists because he was working at Fantagraphics at the time. James Sturm had just moved to Seattle to help start "The Stranger," and he knew a lot of cartoonists. Fantagraphics had moved to Seattle a few years before, and Pete Bagge was here, and Jim Woodring was here, and suddenly, a million cartoonists were living here. I heard about the Xeric grant from Jason Lutes, and we both applied, and then we met this cartoonist David Lasky, who had also just moved to Seattle and who had also gotten a Xeric grant. David Lasky and I got the grant in the same cycle, and I think Jason got it the next cycle and then Tom Hart and Jon Lewis applied and then James Sturm applied and pretty soon basically every cartoonist in Seattle had gotten a Xeric grant. [Laughs] It was cool, because part of the stipulation of the grant is that you self-publish, and that's a whole learning curve in and of itself, so it was really cool that so many of us were doing it, because we could really share information.

It was a really helpful and supportive community, then.

It really was. I mean, I didn't know anything about comics and these guys were more steeped in the whole tradition of comics and the language. They were so helpful. Jason knew a lot about production and layout and dealing with printers. It was awesome. A lot of resources to figure that whole thing out in the early days.

I wanted to talk about the story that a lot of people likely know you for, "Watergate Sue," the comic story you did for the "New York Times Magazine" a couple of years back. How did this end up happening and what was the experience like?

It was wild. I was living in New York, I had just had a baby. I got a heads up from Eric Reynolds about it. I was aware that they were running these comics in the magazine, and Eric said, "The editor of this comic series asked for some recommendations and you were one of the people Gary recommended. That's no guarantee, I have no idea if they're going to pick you, but I just want to let you know." I was like, "Yeah, right." I just could not believe for a second that they would pick me. And then, a few months later, I got a call from the editor. She had seen "The Squirrel Mother" and really liked it. I think she actually came right out and said it. "We've been publishing a lot of guys and we really like to see a female perspective on the funny papers story and we liked 'The Squirrel Mother' and we'd like something like that." I think, truth be told, they had asked Marjane Satrapi to do it and she had turned them down. I was the next pick. I had a really short lead time to propose a story to them and get the first few episodes in the can, because I think they'd been going around with Marjane and then she had so much other stuff going on

The thing is that I had for years wanted to do a story about Watergate. I had been imagining that that would be my next big project after I finished "Artichoke Tales." I had been imagining it as a graphic novel. Then the "New York Times" came and they said, "Will you do a story for us," and I just drew a complete blank. I had to come up with something in a month. I was in the shower one day and I thought, "Watergate. Perfect!" It seemed like a perfect fit for the "New York Times" and the kinds of people who read the "New York Times." I already had a running start because I'd been taking notes and had a vague idea in my mind of what I wanted to do. I had to change it a lot, because I had been picturing a 150-200 page story and what they wanted was a twenty-four page story that could be divided into weekly installments. I had to start from scratch in terms of how to approach it, but at least I had a subject matter that I was already interested in and familiar with.

More pages from "Artichoke Tales"

I mainly dealt with the editor Sheila Glaser. She was a fantastic editor and I'd never really had an editor before. With comics, maybe you show it some friends, but if you're working in alternative comics, there's not a real editorial structure with the publishers. It was really fun working with an editor who's smart and interested in what I was doing and cared about the finished product. It was also difficult, because they had a very stringent…they don't call it fact-checking, they call it research, but it's basically fact-checking. They also have their own stylebook, so the copyediting was really brutal. That whole part was very strange, having to submit my drafts to research and copyediting, and I had to verify really strange things for them, like to prove that what I was writing was true. I had this idea that I would have politicians say things that I would paraphrase, but they could not abide by that. If it was a historical figure, it had to be their exact words. I never really understood why, because it was fiction, but I guess because they're a newspaper, that's just the world they're in. They were real sticklers for the facts. [Laughs] That was a real culture clash. There was this whole infrastructure that was so foreign to me. In the little world of alternative comics, nobody cares. You just do your stuff. There's not a lot of oversight.

You're used to finishing the book, submitting it to the publisher, reviewing it before it goes to print and not much more.

Yeah, that's about it. Suddenly, there's all these iterations I had to show them, and all these people telling me to change things. It was never Sheila telling me, "Well, I really don't like where the story's going," or "I don't like this character." It was all this fact-based stuff and forcing me to use accurate punctuation. It turns out, I don't know how to punctuate anything. [Laughs] It was pathetic. I did not know how to place a comma to save my life. That was a really cool experience, and it was so fun living in New York because there it was every week. I'd see the magazine in the coffee shop and people reading it on the train. I never saw anyone actually reading my comic, but just knowing it was three pages later or something was always very exciting.

Was the your original idea about a young couple during the Watergate hearings?

Sort of. The germ of the story for me was my parents watching Watergate on TV. I think it was happening when I was about four, and it's one of my early memories, my parents yelling at the TV because, like almost everyone at that point, they just hated Nixon. He gives his famous speech where he says, "I am not a crook," and my mother literally kicked our TV over and broke it.

So that scene from the story was autobiographical.

Yeah. The germ was a child who, through watching her parents and listening to her parents talk about Watergate…my early idea was to have it be more from the child's perspective. I got the idea when I was still in my twenties and I think I was still thinking more from the child's perspective in most of my stories. It's funny. I've definitely seen myself move over to the adult [perspective]. A lot of my stories are about relationships between parents and children, but I feel like now that I've had a kid, I'm viewing the stories more on the adult side, whereas I used to more on the kids side. I feel like "Watergate Sue" was the turning point for me. The whole pregnancy/baby/childbirth thing was not part of the original plan. That was totally about working in where I was in at that time. My baby was eight months old when I first got the job, and I hadn't been doing comics since she was born and I was totally in babyworld. I had just started getting back to work on "Artichoke Tales" and then I got this job, but I hadn't really gotten my groove back in terms of doing comics. I was trying to figure out how can I do this. It was the" New York Times." I felt like I had to bring my A-game, and I did not feel it. [Laughs] And I thought if I could just do some stuff about babies and just work where I'm at into the story, it might feel a little more comfortable. That wasn't part of my original plan. The whole parents obsessed with Watergate, that was the germ of the idea, but all of the events of the story and the format and everything I designed for the magazine because I hadn't figured out any of that. I had just jotted down random ideas and memories. I hadn't really ever worked out a story until the "New York Times" assignment.

Was the formal constraint, one largely standalone page each week, a challenge?

It was. I had been reading the other ones that had gone before me. Mainly the Seth one - that's when I really started paying attention, because Seth's story was running when I got the job and I started reading his to figure out what he's doing, how's he handling this. I liked Seth's story, but I didn't like the way it looked on the page. There were a lot of tiny panels and they were all done in monochromatic color. In his books, I really love that style, but I felt like one page of that in a magazine was just it was a little bit drab and I didn't feel like it drew you in. I remember thinking, "Okay, I want to have bigger panels and bright colors. I want it to grab readers more." I don't know if I succeeded, but the way I designed my page was definitely a response to thinking, "I don't know if Seth's is totally working."

I think every cartoonist who did that job will tell you that it was really difficult to come up with a way to make the page readable and appealing and also fit into a larger story. That's an incredibly hard thing to do. My original idea was to have a lot of different strips going. I think I wanted to have three strips every week and they thought that was going to be too crazy and just too hard for readers to follow. We agreed there would be one strip which was the main story and then one little strip at the top. I think when I do the book version, I might go back to my original plan, which was going to be two little strips, one at the top and one at the bottom and then the main story in the middle. I definitely was thinking about "Ice Haven." I just love "Ice Haven" so much and I wanted to do something like that where a single story was told through these different strips. I just read "Wilson" and it was so cool to see that clearly that idea has stuck with Dan [Clowes], too. There's something about multiple strips telling one story that he's still fascinated by and working through. He did it in a completely different way with "Wilson" than "Ice Haven," and I feel like the way I tried to do it in "Watergate Sue" was really different than what he's doing, but I definitely took the idea from reading "Ice Haven" and thinking that was really fantastic what he did. I don't feel like I got to fully do it the way I wanted to in the magazine. I totally understood and kind of agreed with them that it would have been too confusing to have three strips a week, but I think that I didn't get to completely work out my artistic vision. [Laughs] So we'll see if I can figure out in the book version the way I wanted it to be.

You get a sense of that, how you were describing it just now, because the story during Watergate is the main story, but there's also everything happening in the present, plus the short strips on Agnes Bluebird, the Hints from Heloise-like figure.

I had a lot of fun with it. I do kind of wonder if maybe the magazine was not quite the right venue for what I was trying to do. That's such a tough thing. I haven't had a lot of practice. Most of the comics, like I was saying, I make and someone publishes them. It's a really different animal to come up with a comic that fits an existing publication. I think maybe I was a little headstrong about that. Looking back on it, I think maybe I should have been a little more careful thinking about the fact that it's surrounded by this thing called the "New York Times Magazine" and you can't ignore that. But live and learn.

Serializing the story one page a week is a very different beast from telling a story in comic books or serializing a story that way.

"The Squirrel Mother" was published in 2006

Yeah, and I don't know about you, but I had a really hard time following other peoples' stories. I became a loyal reader, but it was not easy. Even if I really liked the story, that week to week thing was just really hard going for the readers. They had to be really motivated to read it every week and remember what happened last week. I just think it asked a tremendous lot from the readers to read comics in that form. They were doing the prose stories at the same time, and those people got a few pages, so what they were able to cover in their episodes was so much more than what the cartoonist was able to do. I just think that, as cool as it was that the "New York Times" did that, and they did it for many years, they had a serious commitment to it, but I still think it was a flawed experiment. I'm glad they did it, but I just think it was hard for the cartoonist, and it was hard for the readers, to do comics in that form and to read comics in that form.

There were two more issues I wanted to talk about. You spoke earlier about how your perspective has shifted in recent years and many of your stories, "Squirrel Mother" and "Meow Meow" come to mind, are about a child unable to grasp the adult sphere. Do you see yourself in the future exploring these same issues and themes and types of stories from a different perspective?

Not to get all sentimental, but having children is this transformative life event. It is truly watershed. You no longer get to view the world as the child. I think that me, in particular, but my generation in general, have clung to childhood for so long. I mean, I really did not think of myself as an adult until I had a kid. It's ridiculous. I was 38 years old, but I still very much had a view of the world from the child's side of things. I'm not saying everyone my age is like this, but I think a lot of us are. It really took me having a kid to finally own up to being an adult. And then you can't go back. Once you're the adult in someone's life, as much as you remember childhood and get childhood, you're on the other side of the divide for all of your waking hours. It changes how you look at things.

It's funny, because I was doing "Watergate Sue" just as that transformation was happening to me because my kid was still under a year old. I was in the midst of becoming a mother. I haven't done anything new since, because then I finished "Artichoke Tales" and [I was] doing all the production work, so I guess I see that's sort of what's ahead of me. Right now I'm mapping out another book of short stories that's going to include "Watergate Sue," but then there will be, I think, three other stories. I think they're all going to be somewhat long so that they'll balance "Watergate Sue." I just noticed the other day, actually, that they're definitely coming from a different perspective.

I'm guessing that there's going to be this shift away from the child's eye view to the parent's eye view. There's this one story I want to do about babysitting, and it's not autobiographical, but again, there's a germ from my real life as a teenage babysitter. I found myself really wanting to go back and interview some of these mothers who I had babysat for. Ask them some questions about some things that had happened. I'm not saying that I'm going to do that. I'm probably just going to make it all up. [Laughs] But the fact that I cared what they thought and was suddenly really curious for the first time in my life about what the mothers thought about that, it made me realize, "Oh, yeah. There's been a shift." [Laughs] I always tried to imbue my mother characters with humanity and thoughts of their own, but truth be told, I was always more on the kids side.

The other issue is something that as you brought up earlier, the "New York Times" approached you in part because they wanted a female voice and comics are a male dominated field.

Indeed.

Both as a woman and as a cartoonist who tells stories about women, do you feel a sense of pressure and has the comics scene changed over the years you've been making comics?

I feel like when I started doing comics, the world of comics was male dominated to a degree that the actual world wasn't anymore, if you know what I mean. I feel like the way comics are now is a reflection of how the world is male dominated, but it's not more male dominated than any other area of life. There are so many more female cartoonists now, doing really interesting work and getting appreciation for what they do. That feels very, very, very, very different than when I began. Now I feel like being a female cartoonist is basically like being a female doctor or female lawyer. You're a woman and you live in a world that's basically run by men. Women have power, but it's spotty. [Laughs] And that's just what we deal with. That's life.

That's always been an element in my career. I was the first woman to get a Xeric grant. I was the first woman [cartoonist] to be in the "New York Times." People notice stuff like that and ask me about it. I think other female cartoonists who have achieved some success in their work get asked about it. There's always the flip side, that if you stand out in some way, it can work in your favor. It's unusual to be a female cartoonist, or, if people perceive it as such, then maybe they're more interested. There's also the many times I would be at a comic convention and some guy would come up and look at my stuff and he'd say something like, "I think my girlfriend might like this." It always felt like such a dis. "I just could not be bothered with anything produced by the female sex, but maybe I'll take it back to the red tent and let the harem read it." [Laughs] I just always felt like, "What, so basically you're incapable of appreciating an act of creativity that's not made by your sex?" I do feel there's a lot of men in the world who just see it that way. Okay, obviously those people are unreachable and I'm not going to worry about it. I have definitely wanted and thought and wanted to make stories that get inside of my male characters' heads more.

I feel pretty good about the Dorian character in "Artichoke Tales." I feel like he's my most well-realized guy that I've ever done. He was sort of became the secret star of "Artichoke Tales" for me. Brigitte is the main character, but, and I've heard other authors talk about this, Dorian kept asserting himself and becoming a more important character in the book. As it went on, I felt my sympathies shifting towards him. It was neat, because that is something that I have struggled with in my work, to connect with my male characters and feel like I could really produce a believable male voice.

I don't know. [Laughs] I wonder if maybe adulthood trumps gender in a way that it doesn't in childhood. I've never said that out loud before. I don't know if I believe it, but there are so many things about facing the reality of your adult life. Like this is it. Over and over. Grocery store, work, dinner, weekend, grocery store. You reach this point in your mid to late thirties where you realize this is maybe as good as it gets. [Laughs] Maybe just that experience of adult humanity will trump this idea of male characters and female characters and I'll be able to sort of produce male characters because of that adult wisdom. I don't know. We'll see.

Megan Kelso will be appearing at the Strand bookstore in New York City with Kim Deitch on Thursday June 24 at 7 pm and at Desert Island in Brooklyn on Friday June 25 at 7 pm.

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