Interview with Cartoonist Gabrielle Bell

By Margo Moore, Children's Librarian
February 18, 2021
Grand Central Library
book covers

Recently we reached out to cartoonist Gabrielle Bell to ask her about art and libraries. Originally born in London, Bell has been a resident of New York City for the past twenty years. Her work has been featured in multiple editions of the Best American Comics anthologies, and she has contributed work to numerous publications including McSweeney's, Bookforum, The Believer, and VICE magazine. Bell’s graphic novel, The Voyeurs, was named one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and The Atlantic. In addition, her memoir Everything is Flammable, her 2020 release Inappropriate, as well as a number of her other titles are available within our collection.

What's your background?

A bookcase.

Why do you do what you do?

Because I'm talented.

What work do you most enjoying doing?

Orchestrating.

nine cartoon panels (3x3) about imagining people coming to realizations resulting from the pandemic

What themes do you pursue?

Pulling what I know out of myself.

What does your work aim to say?

I exist, don't forget me.

How does your work comment on current social or political issues?

We must be human in an inhuman society.

Who are your biggest influences?

Alice Munro, myself.

Woman sleeping with cat looking on bed surrounded by gray devilish creatures

How have you developed your career?

A lot of blundering.

How do you seek out opportunities?

I play hard to get.

How do you navigate the art/publishing world?

I don't.

What do you dislike about the art or publishing worlds?

The overvaluing of longer works over short works, and of course the over-commodification of works in general.

Why art?

It's a place to be vulnerable and playful and to connect.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

To question where the advice you're being given is coming from.

Has literature impacted your art making?

Completely.

Are libraries a part of your world? 

I use them for their free, fast wi-fi, their bathrooms and air conditioning. Also I get all my books and movies and music from there. They're a wonderful, necessary, non-commercial space for the people.

What have you been working on recently?

I'm working on a book about dating and spirituality.

Have the recent events had an impact on your art practice?

Yes, it's like a pressure cooker.

Thank you to YA Librarian Joe Pascullo for help putting this blog post together.