Welcome to my 'zine tree!

Here in my studio, I've got this wire-y thing hanging above my computer desk chock-full of paper goods that have kept me curious.

Instead of filing one thing away when I wish to add something, I've decided to do these features about some of the creators' works on the tree.

There's a little bit of everything up there - some photography, some stickers, some floppy comics, but most of it is cartoon and comics art and all of it is independently produced.


AG: Hi Whit! The first work of yours I ever read was Passing. The comic (no longer available online) struck me as very literary; the pacing in your work is very spare, and your newest work has (to my delight) included even more prose. Would you say this comes from your experience in webcomics or your other reading?

WT: Passing is based off of a screenplay I wrote back in college. I think it was the original made-for-film format which made the words play a supporting role to the environment. I'm not done drawing that story and hope to complete it at graphic novel size some time in the future. Wallpaper was more of an experiment. I was super busy this summer working on a longer, more research-heavy project and just wanted to go home and draw patterns to relax. After a while I came up with the idea of pairing a story with the patterns and letting them tell the story without the use of actual characters. In both cases, I don't think these stories work best in webcomics format.

>>Read a review of Wallpaper by Rob Clough >>
AG: For me, Passing also alluded to a few novels from the Harlem Renaissance (i.e. Nella Larsen’s Passing, Jessie Fauset’s Plum Bun) and it felt as if I was revisiting that genre in an appropriate contemporary form. Recently, I was reading your minicomic Wallpaper, I realized that there is a continuing theme of ‘the unsaid’ in your work. 

Many of your stories are personal, but I’ve wondered if it’s a struggle for you -- if this particular narrative weren’t somehow structured for you to leave out maybe even more important things that you wish to keep to yourself. However, I also know that sometimes a memoir writer doesn’t always have all of the information in order to piece a personal story together and sometimes they’re merely shaping the salient details for the reader. Does any of that ring true for you in image or word for this work?

from "Passing," by Whit Taylor

WT: Wallpaper is largely about "flashbulb" memory, which can be particularly vivid when we are kids. It's not fully autobio, as not all the chronology or details follow my life, but it definitely deals with certain recurring themes from my family. Some of the patterns are from childhood and others are not. As for the 'unsaid', yes, I feel like this is usually an element in my work. I think it is hard when doing memoir/autobio work to figure out how to tell a story without getting bogged down in the details. My primary goal is to create a mood or a feeling, which doesn't always rely on telling one's personal history in detail. I remember when I was a kid, feeling confused a lot about the world and what adults were doing in it. I also felt like I had a partner in crime, my younger brother, to help navigate that world with. That's what I wanted to communicate.

from "Wallpaper," by Whit Taylor
AG: How did you get into making comics?

WT: I started reading comics at a young age and also made picture books. I got away from art in my high school and early college years, but rekindled my love of comics in college when I started reading graphic novels and indie comics. From there, I just started going to indie comics shows and selling my handmade diary/autobio minicomics. Without a formal arts education, I've had to teach myself a lot, as well as make a lot of mistakes. What's helped me along the way is building relationships with other people, taking some risks, and being persistent despite challenges.

from "Passing," by Whit Taylor
AG: Your comic on cultural appropriation for Medium was fair, complex, and honest. What do you think is the biggest obstacle to spreading awareness that makes us informed, nicer people? 

from "Passing," by Whit Taylor
WT: I think the biggest obstacle for spreading awareness is that there is a lot of noise out there.

We live in an over-saturated culture which makes it very difficult to be calm, still, and reasoned. I feel fortunate that The Nib gave me the opportunity to do that piece, because their infrastructure allowed me to reach a greater audience  than I might normally have. Of course there were a few people who had negative things to say about it, but over all I received very positive feedback. It was most gratifying to talk with people who felt that the comic helped them break down and understand the concept of cultural appropriation. I love using comics to educate and spark dialogue and plan to do more in the future for sure.

from "Wallpaper" by Whit Taylor

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