holding it in my hand

I finished the cancer comic book. With the help of a really lovely woman named Kate Barber and the Publication Studio at the Williams College Museum of Art, it is printed and bound and is a real live book I can hold in my hands.

adventures of a left breast

I want to cry. The intense joy of seeing the physical result of seven years of work plus the deep sadness of my mom not being here, not seeing this, and the sadness of everything we’ve gone through… seeing it and holding it I want to cry.

Reading the first part of this book, my mom’s part, is the only thing that makes me feel close to her right now. When other people tell me they dream about her or feel her presence I get mad, because I don’t feel it. It’s too much for me to feel it, or she just isn’t here, and I’m so mad, because she’s not here and she’ll never be here again.

But she’s in this book. At least, a part of her is. 2007 Viola is here, and I remember all these scenes. Reading her story in her own voice with her drawings and collages and handwriting is comforting and devastating at the same time.

We made this together. And I finally finished it.

Now that it’s a real live book, organized and formatted, I’m going to send copies out to publishers and hope it gets made into a book you can actually buy in stores, at comics festivals, and on the internet. I’ll let you know when that happens. (Incidentally, if you are a comics publisher reading this, feel free to contact me.)

workin’ hard

I’m in the middle of a big project. When my mom first got diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 she started making a comic book. It was called The Adventures of My Left Breast, and chronicled her experience through diagnosis and treatment, her feelings and thoughts, frustrations and hopes. She wanted to make something out of what was happening to her, to be an active participant instead of a victim.

When her cancer came back in 2011, I started making comics about it from my perspective. I hadn’t fully processed it the first time, and wanted to document my own experience of what was happening. I’ve continued working on these comics since she died, trying to figure out the right format for this work, and now I’m making a big cancer comic book with my mom’s comics and mine together.

working on cancer comicsbig cancer comic book

Looking through my journal and remembering all these moments and details while drawing them has been really healing for me. I feel like I’m working on a project with her. She made me promise I’d finish her comic book, and this feels like the right way to do it.

I’m making so many new pages! And I’ll post some new stuff as I go.


post – MoCCA

Thanks to everyone who stopped by our table and bought comics! I got to meet some lovely people, make connections, trade comics and just generally have a good exhibiting experience.  Super thanks to Justin and Sophia for hosting us. Special thanks to our table mate Hillary Blair, my buddy across the aisle Jeffrey Lewis, brave chicken Nina Frenkel, and finally John Jennison, the Van Der Jagts, and that little kid in the skull shirt for being my favorite customers.

(and even special-er thanks to Phoebe and Greg for being my people/helpers/support/travel buddies ❤ )

And it was so great to see all my NYC friends!

Some photos from the weekend:

Little sketches I made at MoCCA:

Some stuff I got:

fish dreams redux

I am re-releasing Fish Dreams! With brand new art by my sister, Phoebe! The new Fish Dreams will premiere at MoCCA Fest 2013 in NYC.

FD-1 Phoebe’s collage-drawings are super beautiful. Get your ticket now, and come visit our exhibitor’s table! Besides Fish Dreams, I’ll also be selling Shelf Life and some new mini comics: Hospital Daze and A Little Tune Up. Hope to see you there!

one word

because one deed, and sometimes one word, suffices to change every constellation” ~ Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

This is still one of my all-time favorite quotes, and perhaps one of the reasons I do what I do. The reason I write stories with words, tell stories through comics, tell stories through dance. Because one deed, one word, can change everything.

I read The Human Condition for a class in college called Performance Theory (I went to Eugene Lang College, at the New School in Manhattan). It was not really about performance as in theater or other entertainment–though these were also topics we covered–, but more about our performance as humans. Every day we perform– walking outside, being in front of others, speaking, ordering coffee. Living public life. Action and Speech are two of the most necessary parts of being human, according to Arendt. She writes that as babies we become more fully human once we utter that first word.

Needless to say, I got hooked on Arendt and Plato and others we read in the class, and these ideas of what it means to be human.

I’ve been going through my external hard drive since having some computer troubles about a month ago, and have come across essays I wrote in college. It’s strange to read these, I almost don’t remember writing them. My voice is so different from how it is now. I always thought I was terrible at writing papers, but some of them are pretty good. The ideas are complicated, the structure and voice are clear. I always tried to be clever in some way, which at times worked and other times didn’t.

So, what is it about words, language, speech that is so essential to being human? Communication with others? A way to tell our own stories? A strife for meaning? A way of making sound in the world, to break the silence and prove we exist?

I have a lot more thinking to do on this subject. And hopefully a lot more writing.

Here is a photo and myself and my college roommate Diana– senior year for Halloween we dressed up as young Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger:

(yeah, nerds! we rocked it.)

i love getting published…and other cool things

Well, September is shaping up to be really great, career-wise. I have three new stories coming out in three different publications!

The first is “Night Birds,” in Toasted Cheese Literary Journal.

Second is “A Night in the Park,” in Every Day Fiction, which will be posted on everydayfiction.com on September 25th.

Third is “Fernando” published in the latest issue of Bateau! They are revamping their website right now, so you can’t order the issue online yet, but it should be up and running next week. I will keep you posted. Bateau is such a lovely magazine, with beautiful covers, the perfect small size, created with wind-power and soy ink and recycled paper.

I got the issue in the mail today, and it was very exciting to get the package. Another exciting package was there as well, a sweet care package from my dear friend Diana. New York bagels, Rainforest Alliance chocolate and coffee, skull beads, “Off the Road” by Carolyn Cassidy, and “Drinking at the Movies” by Julia Wertz. Basically my dream care package.

Also, there was free ice cream at the new corner market near my house.

Plus, getting to share all this awesomeness with my mom, dad, and grandma.

What a great day!!!


lev hardware book club

Ah. Here I am freshly back from vacation. Haven’t had time to upload a new Art Bitch for this week, but am ferociously penciling and inking new strips as we speak. In the meantime, I want to talk about some books I’ve read recently.

I truly love to read. Once, in second grade, we had a day where we brought in all the books we’d read that month. Most kids had two or three. I had a stack of more than ten. Chapter books. Yeah, I know, badass.

So. Here are the three books I read in the last two weeks. Surprisingly, they are all autobiography-type books. Usually I stick pretty close to novels.

First, “Big Man” by Clarence Clemmons and Don Reo. I feel deeply sad that I never got to see the E Street Band in concert, with Clarence and Bruce together, and now I never will. C made a lot of magic in his life, and the book is a joy tinged with the sadness of his death. It is stories, in the largest sense of the word. A fully felt, beautiful thing.

Next, I read Patti Smith’s “Just Kids.” This book makes me feel like I can be a musician, which is a secret dream of mine. It also makes me nostalgic for New York, which nothing else has really been able to do in the nine months since I left. Her writing draws me in, and I see a lot of myself in her inner world. I didn’t want it to ever end. I want to listen to Patti Smith songs in the car with the window rolled down in the summer forever.

Third, which I just finished this morning, is Tina Fey’s “Bossypants.” I see a lot of myself in Tina’s inner world too. I read the majority of this on a five hour bus ride and people started staring at me because I was doing that silent laugh thing so hard that it made a weird noise and I was crying from said laughter. My dad (who read all three of these books right before me) didn’t find the book very funny until the second half. I think that’s because in the first half she writes a lot about growing up: getting her period, her first pap smear, and other gross/weird/awkward things that we gals go through that might be less relatable for men. And, as a woman trying to make it in a male dominated workplace/world, I found some great advice, and a view on feminism that is very close to my own (thank you Ms. Fey). I got this book from the library, and after reading the whole thing I am planning on buying it. It’s that kind of book. I want it to sit proudly on my shelf for years to come. I want to re-read it and underline my favorite parts. I want my future daughter to read it.

In conclusion, I recommend all three of these books. Enjoy.