Gabrielle Bell is one of our great cartoonists. In books like The Voyeurs, Truth is Fragmentary, Cecil and Jordan in New York, and in the hundreds of comics she’s made for print and online, she’s developed a style and approach to storytelling that is deceptively simple.
I don’t mean her linework, which is beautiful and deliberate, but the way she approaches story. One can read a few of the realistic stories she tells, and think that one understands her work, but then she crafts a story in that same style with that same tone and approach, which goes off in strange fantastic directions. Some of them are colorful, fantastic tales. Others loop back and force the characters and the readers to reconsider the opening scenes differently. It’s this way that she seems to effortlessly move from dirty realism to magical realism, always grounded in lived in details and psychology, which allow the reader to feel grounded even as the story spins off in any direction.
Bell’s new book Inappropriate is the first since the release of her acclaimed graphic memoir Everything is Flammable. In these short comics, some of which have seen print in The New Yorker, Spiralbound and elsewhere, Bell effortlessly shifts from the autobiographical to the fantastic, the personal to the strange. Recently she also got attention for her comic Utopia, which was posted during the pandemic. It’s always a joy to pick her brain and Gabrielle took some time out to chat about the book, how she works and thoughts during the pandemic.Continue reading “Smash Pages Q&A: Gabrielle Bell”