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Interview:

Mimi Pond

April, 2018

Interview by Chris Auman

Mimi Pond, cartoonist


Mimi Pond has been sending ripples through the comics world since she got her start there in the late 70s emerging from the the ranks of free local newsweeklies to the National Lampoon and LA Times. She’s also written for TV shows like Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Designing Women and an Emmy-nominated episode of the Simpsons. She's also written five humor books and two semi-autobiographical graphic novels (The Customer is Alway Wrong and Over Easy) depicting her time waitressing at an Oakland diner.

RW: Your whole family—husband and two children—are all artists, does that create a foundation of mutual encouragement and support or complete craziness?

MP: We do all try to encourage one another and there is a feeling of being understood that is very comforting.

RW: Has the whole family ever collaborated on an art project together?

MP: We haven't per se. Wayne and our son Woodrow have collaborated on a few different projects, but not the four of us together. We're supposed to all go to do a presentation at the Nantucket Project in September. I have no idea if it'll be like the Von Trapp Family or a complete shitshow.

RW: Did you come from an artistic family yourself or experience that sort of creative environment growing up? If not, where did you get your inspiration/influences?

MP: My dad was an amateur cartoonist and sculptor while working full-time at General Dynamics Convair for something like 37 years. He always had a project going and both parents were very encouraging of my talents. He gave me early exposure to a lot of cartoonists I still revere, like Walt Kelly and Al Capp. He put the Signet Mad Magazine paperback compilations under my nose when I was barely old enough to read, and that was major. We always had the latest Mad Magazine in the house as well.

RW: The family/work/creative balance is a hard one to strike, how did you cope with the competing needs of family, friends and colleagues?

MP: It is really really fucking hard. There was a long time when I had to put most of my own artistic needs aside for those of our children and our whole family. As the kids became teenagers it became easier to get back to work, and I realized it was important for them to see me as not just their mother, but as an artist whose work was just as important as their father's.

The Customer is Always Wrong
The Customer is Always Wrong

RW: Do you have any practical advice for struggling or new artists?

MP: If you want to do it badly enough you will find a way to do it. Don't listen to unhappy and negative people and don't let them draw you into their negative vortex. Listen to your instincts. Find people who support what you do. Find mentors. Ask questions. Believe in yourself. Don't hang out in bars.

RW: When you started out in your career, did you have a backup plan in case you couldn’t find work—or enough of it—to support yourself as an artist?

MP: I really didn't have a plan B beyond knowing I could go back to waitressing.

RW: What’s a typical work day like for you?

MP: I tend to spend mornings dicking around doing practical things that need to get done. I usually don't gain any momentum for work until about 1 or 2 pm. If I'm lucky I can work until 7. I can't work past that, really. I've never been someone who could do all-nighters.

RW: Are there any projects you are currently working on that you would care to talk about?

MP: I'm trying to gain traction on a screenplay based on my graphic novels. I just finished a couple of shorter pieces for a new online magazine that will launch soon called Popula. I will be going to the MacDowell Colony this summer where I hope things will reveal themselves to me.

RW: Are you going to finish that crostini?

MP: That's the sound of me slapping your hand away.

Recommended Reading

Over Easy by Mimi Pond [Drawn & Quarterly]

Over Easy by Mimi PondThe setting is late seventies Oakland when the peace and love movement had become a fading memory and new wave and punk had firmly taken hold. Mimi Pond's fictionalized memoir captures a period of time as the earthtone 70s gave way to the dayglo 80s. Told from the perspective of cartoonist and waitress, Madge, Pond details her time waiting on eccentric aging Bay Area hippies, the loves and drug habbits of her and her coworkers, and the sage wisdom of the cafe's world-weary manager, Lazlo. It's a great snapshot of the time, the city, the restaurant industry and the begining of a young artist's career.

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