Teresa Logan's Laughing Redhead Comics debuted earlier this month, and it's already given us a look inside the hypothetical lives of some heady figures. In the space of just a few strips, Earth holds up a coffee line, Jesus sees a therapist, and the disarmingly pleasant specter of Death bargains with a zombie. Experienced in a host of artistic and comedic disciplines, Logan doesn't seem to break a sweat as she bats around some of humankind's heaviest scientific and metaphysical concepts. Does she employ a secret training regime that allows her pen such levity? Read on to discover how the Laughing Redhead herself crafts her brand of comics.
Teresa Logan: I keep sketchbooks and notes with me all the time, always am scribbling something down, or editing a joke. So, when I think something has landed the way it should, I’ll take it to paper. Many times I just pick up that pen (I prefer dip pen and ink), and go for it, but other times I will sketch it out and put it on a light table to trace it and be a little more careful with the layout. Usually, the more complicated ones are done with a sketch before inking.
GC: On Laughing Redhead Comics, you work principally in black and white (with occasional tones and spot color). What do you like about this aesthetic and how it communicates your ideas?
TL: It’s funny, I do put the cartoons into full-color now and then. For this week, the "Who Wants To Be A Milliner" cartoon - I did in full color. And I kept thinking that the color took away from the joke, and that bothered me, so I redid it in a monochrome palette. And I was happy with it again. As much as I love love love doing the art on the cartoons, the joke is the crux, and I don’t want to distract from it. So, I have to watch myself -- because I do love doing that lettering! I DO love black and white EVERYTHING. My favorite color scheme is black and white, with a touch of red -- you can do almost anything with that color scheme. Nine of my Top Ten movies are black and white, I just recently noticed... And maybe, because I’ve done so many kajillions of full-color greeting cards, I’ve found it fun to make the most of a black and white (and sometimes gray) palette. I just love black and white. Did I say that already?
GC: You've been a cartoonist for a good stretch, working on a number of projects on top of your Laughing Redhead Comics work. How do you think your style and approach to making comics has evolved over time?
TL: Are you saying I’m old? Is that what you’re saying? Because I’m young at heart, downright embryonic. Yes, I’ve been cartooning for decades! And I also spent years making huge paintings -- and my cartoons got more ME, after that. I draw those "L" noses in everything, my big paintings, as well as my tiniest of cartoons. What has changed most, in the last few years, is that I got more into visual storytelling and narrative. I plan to post some of my comics which are stories, as well, in addition to the usual gag cartoons. I’d say I’ve also gotten mouthier and bolder in my opinions, so some of that will show up, too.
GC: You've written about how you're a natural introvert on your blog. How does making comics figure into that tendency for you?
TL: So, this is a surprise to some people, because I’m chatty when I need to be, and usually so comfortable being in front of a crowd. But, truly, that is when you are most alone, is up there, behind a mic. So, it’s comfortable for me. I think the "introvert" surprises those who have seen me socialize, but if you’re paying close attention, I’m the one who will go take breaks outside, or go draw for a little bit, to occupy myself and sort of recharge. I’m so comfortable alone, and I come away from every social situation, even ones with friends, with crippling self-doubt. I think I talked too much, or too little, or said something insensitive, or... it goes on and on. I’m so weird. Thank God for cartooning! I’m also bipolar, which may have nothing to do with being an introvert, but is just an opportunity to say that all my friends and family deserve medals, or maybe, an all-expense paid vacation from me. Can you arrange that? That would be cool.
GC: You work in a number of comedic disciplines, including standup. Do any of your comics start out as ideas in any of the other arenas or mediums you work in? What's the symbiosis like between your creative endeavors?
TL: Well, the writing is different, when you don’t have the "luxury" of delivering it the way it should be said, the way it’s funniest (What a control freak thing to say, huh?). I can play with my voice, and tone, and volume, and character, and give things a different take. You have to edit jokes on the page so that anyone reading it, can get it, can read it "funny"... and there is a different approach when you are writing for stage or for page. For page, I edit even more. That said, I think I discover that sometimes the hard way. That something that I thought would be good for one, is better for another medium.
GC: One theme in your comics is visualized wordplay. What do you usually think of first -- the visual itself or the words that need a corresponding visual?
TL: The words, in most cases.
GC: What are some comics or other media that you draw inspiration or influence from?
TL: I don’t know how good I am at drawing real influence from them, but I know what I like! I love horror movies and zombies. I love Charles Addams and Edward Gorey and Roz Chast and Lynda Barry and Matt Groening, omigosh, and Harry Clarke’s illustrations. I read Oscar Wilde and H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King and watch Blumhouse movies, and classic horror; and the film directors Joseph Mankiewicz and Scott Derrickson and Charlie Chaplin and F.W. Murnau (Nosferatu and Faust) -- Oh, and Bill Plympton... they are just... amazing. I think Tina Fey and Bill Watterson are brilliant and inspirational. Calvin and Hobbes hits me at every level. Richard Thompson is a hero, his artistry is amazing. Love Ralph Steadman’s ink. Comedy-wise, I love Paula Poundstone and Tig Notaro and Sarah Silverman. I like wordplay, and truth and irony and sarcasm and outspokenness. In fashion, I love Balenciaga and Pucci, and the art of Dufy, Bakst, and Klimt. I love South Park. On SO many levels.
GC: In addition to your comics, you also create coloring book art for GoComics parent company Andrews McMeel Universal's publishing arm. The designs are so detailed, I can't help but wonder what subliminal messages you sneak in. Did your art make me buy 24 cases of La Croix? Be honest.
TL: Ooooh, guilty! The power of the PAISLEY, dude!!! Actually, that would be awesome. I think I WILL sneak in messages in the NEXT book. Right now I’m sneaking them in, in the pages you can download, bwahaahahaaaaa. Oh, this would be a good horror movie premise. Guy downloads coloring pages, starts behaving "badly," paranormal team is gathered to battle his paisley possession. A paisley-normal team! This is how it starts. (Takes a moment to write in little omnipresent notebook.) But I DO love doing the coloring books, and I find drawing the hyper-detailed paisleys and mandalas to be very calming and relaxing. Hopefully, it’s also very fun for the colorers! I get great notes and comments from people about how much they love the coloring books and my designs, and that just gives me joy to my core. It really does. Because I have had so much fun creating them. I feel the same way about cartoons -- when it hits someone, when they express that it made them LOL, I just love that so much. Very, very satisfying. Are you craving more La Croix yet..?*
*Editor's Note: Yes, I am.