LIZ WALKER is the author of 2016: The Best and the Worst of Each Damn Week. She is a freelance writer, reluctant comic artist, part-time Morrissey journalist, occasional painter, and professional slacker. She resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she lives off Cadbury Mini Eggs, runs a Christopher Pike book club, and falls asleep to Forensic Files. She can be found on Tapastic, Facebook and Instagram, and at her website, Everybody Likes Liz.
ON DIY AND DINOSAURS
I went to school at Illinois Wesleyan University. That’s were I made my first (almost universally detested) comic, even though the bulk of my work was painting (and also creative writing). Then in 2014, Kriss Stress encouraged me to make a daily comic for a month. I came to really hate creating a comic every day, but after a year went by, it was shocking to review what I had made and see how far my life had progressed since then. I had left the job I hated. I had prioritized restoring my health. And I had moved to another state! It was a blessing to look backwards with such a concrete documentation of my unhappiness. It made me really thankful that I had taken the necessary steps to make changes in my life and I wished I had a comic documenting everything I did to make that happen in 2015. That’s why I decided to tackle it again in 2016, but only every damn week instead of every damn day.
I wish I had known earlier that you don’t need to be tech savvy to create a comic. I just assumed that I didn’t have the skills required, which is pretty typical self-doubt from me. But now I draw out my comic by hand, like the dinosaur that I am, and I’m generally happy with the look of it. There’s nothing wrong with a DIY, bare-bones approach. Reading the book Popkiss: The Life and Afterlife of Sarah Records gave me a lot more confidence in that regard.
ON THE WORST YEAR EVER
Posting the comic every Tuesday was an important exercise for me. I couldn’t be too precious about it – it had to get done on time. On Mondays I would decide what the important moments were from the previous week and make my sketch. On Tuesdays, I would clean up the scan and get it ready to post. That schedule didn’t leave me a lot of time to worry about drawing hands consistently or detailed shading. It helped to think of the comic as “doodles” instead of “drawings.”
As the year went on, waking up each day to more deaths and assorted horrors, the comic felt increasingly self-indulgent. That’s something I struggled with and even addressed directly at one point. It felt like the world was on fire and there I was complaining about my hip! If I had known how the year was going to go, I might have formatted things differently. But part of the beauty of an autobiographical comic in (almost) real time is that I didn’t know what was going to happen. I was in the same position as people reading along.
I think there were times where I was overly concerned about who would be reading it and what they would think. But in the end, it had to be something I am comfortable with. The comic is an important, kind of therapeutic exercise for me. It forces me to be more open. It also, by design, forces me to remember good stuff that happens (because mentally I toss anything positive aside almost immediately and replay negative events over and over for the rest of my days). Of course, there is value in talking about the lowlights as well. My life isn’t perfect and I don’t want to pretend that it is. People relate to the lowlights. We all have bad weeks.
ON SELF-DOUBT AND BONFIRES
For a good chunk of 2016, I hated working on the comic and was just trying to finish what I started. I felt like it was all a big mistake and I was wasting my time. But eventually my thinking shifted and I came to really enjoy it. Part of that was discussing it with other artists who saw a value in what I was doing. The other part was readers telling me they looked forward to reading it each week.
So I’ve decided to keep going. The new comic is called BEST/WORST and will still update each Tuesday. It’s a very similar beast, but with a slightly adjusted format. 2017 is going to be a rough year. If my comic brings some small, fleeting happiness to five people out there, that’s really good enough for me right now.
Also, I will be printing up 2016: The Best & The Worst of Each Damn Week for sale at the Chicago Zine Fest in May. I hope to create additional zines this year and focus on some more political content. I really see this as a time to not hold back. The worst has already happened. There’s no time for self-doubt anymore.
My advice to anyone who wants to create something is to not overthink it. It’s very easy to question yourself and it always feels risky to try something new. But seriously, even if you end up hating it, who cares? A bad comic will not bring about the apocalypse. So make stuff, lots of stuff. You can always burn it in a bonfire later.
Want to be considered for future installments of The New Comics? Send your work to Comics Curator Keith McCleary via the Entropy submissions page.