Interview: Molly Crabapple on SXSW & New Animation

Molly Crabapple 2011 
Molly Crabapple is a New York City based illustrator and the founder of Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School. She also happens to be a very charming and lovely person. She has been up to a lot of new things since I last interviewed her at GeekWeek. Let's check in with her:

GeekWeek: It's been awhile since we've had an interview. Tell us about your new graphic novel coming up with First Second.

Molly Crabapple: John Leavitt and I are working on a new graphic novel for First Second called, “Straw House.” It's the story of a carnival populated with immortal outcasts traversing America's backwaters in the late 1950's. When it stops at a small Appalachian town, a battle breaks out for who will control the carnival, leading the violent collisions with history, myth, and rock n' roll. Think Geek Love meets American Gods. It's due out 2013, and me and Leavitt are working on it so hard that we've devolved into an odd sibling language made of clicks

Crabapple art 2011 

GW: You were recently at SXSW, the cool annual event in Austin mixing a tech con with a music fest. I know the "cool kids" will disown you if you call it anything other that "South By." That's all I know. What can you tell us about what it was like for you.

MC: I love Interactive. It's by far my favorite US convention/conference thing. Its this mixture of uber smart speakers like Bruce Sterling throwing cookies at the audience, late night absinthe drinking with the people who build Web 2.0, and sun, barbecue and revelry with all your dork friends from around the world. This year I spoke on io9 editor Annalee Newitz's panel "Social Media is Science Fiction". Also, I did the swag bags, so approximately 25,000 people in Austin were carrying around my steampunk octopus.

GW: Specifically, tell us about your participation in a SXSW panel discussion.

Annalee invited all the panelists to create a science fiction scenario of where we say social media going. I'm a real skeptic about the gamefiction of real life, mechanical turking, and crowdsourcing work. So I created a "pre-apocalyptic" scenario where most jobs had been replaced by corporate sponsored "contests" and "challenges." For example, at the WalMart Box Stacking Challenge, you face off against your teammates for who can lift and scan the most crates in eight hours. At the end of the day, the best box stacker wins $60. The "prize" is what used to be called your salary.

GW: Would an artist do well to rely on social networking alone or should they also consider an agent?

MC: Depends on the artist and the field. I love, love, love my literary agent (who not only got me the deal at First Second, but pushed me into doing the proposal in the first place). I think anyone who aspires to do books with big publishers (including and especially the big two comics publishers) would do really well to have an agent. Illustration reps though? I've never had one, and my friends who do have ones have had very mixed experiences.

GW: You are a very busy artist with a lot of exciting projects. Tell us about your doing animation.

About a year ago, me and my friend/muse/soul sister in ambition Kim Boekbinder wanted to do an animated music video for her work. We took to twitter to find an animator, and found the brilliant Jim Batt. Jim suggested we do the animation super old school, with stop motion paper puppets in an elaborately inked world. Over the next year, we skyped, drew giant cities, wrote scripts, wore out pen nibs and x-acto blades on three continents. And, in between all this, Jim and Kim fell in love.


GW: I understand that your animation project is connected with Kickstarter. How can people get involved and help make this project a reality?

MC: We just launched a Kickstarter for the animation, called "I Have Your Heart" and have raised over $7,000 of funding in 36 hours, ( We were blessed to have some incredibly generous supporters- including Warren Ellis, Neil Gaiman, and Margaret Cho, who all helped us promote the project. But, as with most film projects, we still need more money, and we love you love you if you donate

The Box London Crabapple 2011 

GW: It is always a pleasure to touch base with you. Share with us any other thoughts or upcoming plans.

MC: Well, in between all this madness, I did 90 feet of murals at The Box Soho, which is shaping up to be London's most notorious nightclub (seriously, search for it in the Daily Mail!), which is the most crazy ambitious project I've ever done. I'm also going to be in Portland as a guest for the Stumptown Comics Festival. If you see me there, say hi. And point me to the good absinthe.

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