Over the course of five books, Leslie Stein has established herself as one of the great cartoonists of her generation. One reason is the way that her work defies characterization, avoids cliches and tropes, and instead forges its own idiosyncratic path. Some of her work can seem simplistic, but it’s quickly apparent that the choices Stein has made are complicated and thought out, and that the simple choices she’s made are effective and precise. She is a skilled artist, an inventive letterer and possesses an eye for color and composition that are like very few people in comics. Stein is also quite simply one of the funniest and most philosophical cartoonists working right now.
She’s an artist who is always experimenting, and her new book is no exception. Present, which came out from Drawn and Quarterly earlier this year, is her best work to date. The book collects many of the short comics that have been serialized in recent years on Vice.com, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions.