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A Cartoonist Couple Quizzed: Leah Fitzgerald Chats Up Tom Hart and Leela Corman

Tom Hart and Leela Corman are married – and so are their professions. Both are artists behind successful comics, Hart on the web (Hutch Owen) and Corman in print (Subway Series), and the two manage to balance close quarter living and their artistic differences.

Comixpedia: Do you find you are competitive with your significant other?
Tom Hart: No not at all. Supportive. In fact, Leela is extremely helpful in scouring the world for observations to fuel my work.
Leela Corman: No, because our work is so different. We're coming from completely different places in terms of background, training, and interests. I started out with painting and serious figure drawing, and am also an illustrator; Tom has always had a stronger commitment to comics. It shows even now – I think he cares a lot more about the history of the medium than I do. For me, they're just a means to a story I want to tell.

Tom Hart and Leela Corman are married – and so are their professions. Both are artists behind successful comics, Hart on the web (Hutch Owen) and Corman in print (Subway Series), and the two manage to balance close quarter living and their artistic differences.

Do you find you are competitive with your significant other?

Tom Hart: No not at all. Supportive. In fact, Leela is extremely helpful in scouring the world for observations to fuel my work.

Leela Corman: No, because our work is so different. We're coming from completely different places in terms of background, training, and interests. I started out with painting and serious figure drawing, and am also an illustrator; Tom has always had a stronger commitment to comics. It shows even now – I think he cares a lot more about the history of the medium than I do. For me, they're just a means to a story I want to tell.

 

How do you share space and time in terms of comics?

TH: I work in the living room and she works in the bedroom. We are both incredibly unhappy with the amount of space we each have to work on, especially me! Time – we fit it in when we can.

LC: We've lived in apartments as long as we've lived together, so neither of us really have a separate studio space. As far as time, my favorite days are the days when we're both home working on projects. He's the only person in the world I've ever been able to share workspace with, as long as the Sibelius stays off the stereo.

 

Have you ever shared a booth at a con? Done mutual promotions?

TH: I think we have shared a booth at cons. We are planning a mutual signing tour, so ultimately we would like to do it more.

LC: I can't really remember ever sharing a booth... but much of what we've done has been mutual.

 

How do you feel about the other's work?

TH: I love it. She has the best line ever. Her dry brush illustrations make me crazy. The story she's working on now seems incredibly robust and interesting too.

LC: I love Tom's work. I think he's a poet of cartooning. And I'm always deeply impressed by his discipline as a writer and researcher. He's inspired me to get more organized, and to study writing and storytelling much more intently. I also think he draws from life beautifully, and I hope that one day he believes me!

 

Leela CormanDo you find that you're influenced by living with another cartoonist?

TH: Absolutely. Aside from the obvious where she helps me draw say, a leg or an arm, just that our creative expressions are so similar, we are always feeding each other in ways we can't even directly express.

LC: Well, I've lived with guitar players, junkies, miserable architecture grad students, borderline paranoid schizophrenics, and computer programmers; I'd say that living with another cartoonist is the closest I could get to heaven.

 

How would you describe your relationship in terms of comics? Outside of comics?

TH: We get along great and inspire each other numerous ways. Our relationship is pretty similar in many arenas, comics, food, reading the newspaper. We struggle to be generous and often succeed.

LC: In terms of comics, I don't think I would be where I am today in my career or in my approach to working were it not for Tom. And I love to look at the world with "Hutch Owen" eyes...it's such an absurd world, and I'm so happy that I can not only share that with Tom, but that I can contribute occasionally to his work.

Outside of comics, he's my best friend and my fellow-traveler - I can't imagine observing the world with a better person. And that is one of our favorite things to do.

 

Since Leela seems to be more in print and Tom more online.... how do you find working in different versions of the same medium?

TH: I don't know. It's about distribution for me. Strangely, I think Leela enjoys staring at a computer screen more than I do.

LC: I'm an illustrator first, a cartoonist second. As far as print comics go, though, Tom consistently understands way more about the print production process. Also, I may be the only cartoonist who has no desire to be on Serializer. I've always preferred books as objects to comics online.

 

How did you meet?

TH: I'll let Leela tell it. It's a fun story.

LC: We took part in the first Cambridge Comix Circus in 1997; I told him this joke that I'd been trying to impress boys with since high school, and then he performed a Beckett play with a sock puppet. Somehow I went for him anyway.