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Catching Up With Dorothy Gambrell

Dorothy Gambrell is a prolific creator, probably best known for her webcomic Cat and Girl.  We've interviewed her twice before, once for our March 2003 issue, and again for our October 2004 issue.  We've also reviewed her webcomic Cat and Girl and her webcomic The New Adventures of Death.  I got a chance to catch up via email with what she's working on now.

What comics are you creating these days? I keep up regularly with Cat and Girl but am not sure if you have any other projects going right now.  On a related note - you don't seem to be on Modern Tales anymore -- is that right?  Have you left the vast Manley publishing grounds?

Right now I'm working on Cat and Girl, Donation Derby, and Very Small Array. They are all words and pictures, but only the first two count as cartoons.

I no longer update anything in the Modern Tales universe. I don't really know what of my Modern Tales output is still available. I have not been checking.

 

Are you working on comics full time or do you have other capitalistic engagements these days?

I am a lucky, lucky jerk. I get to work on making things all day and the only downside is that I don't have any money.

 

How are you making money from Cat and Girl?  Can you give me a rough breakdown of how you do it -- is it like 50% t-shirts and 50% books?  Do ads play a significant role?  How has working with TopatoCo on the t-shirts been?  Is it helpful that Jeff Rowland is a cartoonist as well as e-commerce guy?

The amount of book and tee shirt and etcetera sales vary so wildly from month to month that I can't do much more than estimate. Tee shirts sales are definitely the bulk of my income. Donation Derby nets me around $200 a month. I don't take advertisements, so they would feature in my spreadsheet as a perpetual zero.

I don't know if working with cartoonist X would be any better than working with e-commerce guy Y, but my experience with Jeffrey Rowland and Topatoco has been great.

 

I see that you've got a print collection of the Donation Derby comics available online -- titled $8228.40 and a Metrocard -- do you have any of your other comics available in print right now?

The brand new Cat and Girl Volume II and the not brand new reprint of Cat and Girl Volume I are shipping to Topatoco as we type and read, and ought to be available in the next week or so.

 

What's this site called Wiggly Piggly linked to from your website - is that you or others?

Wiggly Piggly is entirely created by my gentleman friend Mister Chen. I have no part in it.

 

I really like Very Small Array -- do you enjoy making the charts on it?  Beyond whatever initial reaction I get from reading it, most of them are actually very effective charts.

I have had jobs, and I have still been able to draw Cat and Girl while holding those jobs. If I had to get a job again I would most likely continue drawing Cat and Girl. What being a lucky jerk without a day job allows me to do is to treat Cat and Girl like my day job and spend my evenings and weekends in pointless, profitless time-consuming projects like the charts of Very Small Array. I like making charts - there is no other reason I would make them.

 

One of the reasons I've always enjoyed reading your comics is the smart commentary layered throughout the dialogue without making me feel like the words are actually coming from you Dorothy Gambrell as opposed to Cat or Girl or the boy or Alt Girl (I never remember if she has a name or not).  I'm certainly not trying to talk you out of doing comics but do you ever think about applying your sensibility and writing talent to other mediums?

Her name is Grrrl.

Do you mean any mediums in particular? I have my definite difficulties with straight prose, but I'm not sure what else might be meant.

On the last question I was inartfully trying to ask something like -- I think your writing is fantastic but have you ever thought working on a novel, short story, screenplay, etc.  Why do you do comics as opposed to another text-only mode of expression? You mention "difficulties with straight prose" - what kind of obstacles have you encountered in trying to work outside of comics?

I was able to draw terrible looking comics for a long time and only realize how terrible they looked in retrospect. I can't do this with writing - all my flaws are immediately visible to me upon rereading, but I lack the level of writing ability needed to correct them.