Ben Snakepit has been making daily diary comics for fifteen years, inventing the genre as a punk-comix pioneer without learning how to actually draw. Read on to learn more about the artist behind the madness.
What have you been doing since we last talked to you?
I’m still drawing diary comics every day (my newest book will be out in 2016!) and working at my dumbass “normal” job.
If your contribution to AYW #4 is any indication, you sound like a terrible person to live with. Has that changed? Aside from being the “roommate from hell,” what are some selling points for having you as a roommate? What’s your ideal living situation?
My ideal living situation is the one I have now: me and my wife in our dumb little house in the suburbs. I hope I never have to live with another roommate again, I always kinda hated it.
You said in your last interview with us that you make it a point to only do one-page comics. Why is that? What kinds of artistic things would you consider doing that would take you out of your “comfort zone?” What sorts of things are you content never trying?
Much in the way that I enjoy the challenge of fitting my days into three panels each, I like the idea of keeping my other comics constrained within a one-page format. There have been times when I’ve done two or three pages, but that usually has to be some kind of epic story to justify it. Something I’ve never been interested in trying is writing/drawing a fictional story. I keeps it real.
Your drawing style has stayed remarkably consistent over the years. Is this on purpose, or do you secretly do epic detailed weird shit on the side that doesn’t make it into the journal comics?
Nah, I’m just a crappy artist and always will be. One big reason is that I never use pencils. I always go straight ink on paper, so if I make a mistake I just have to deal with it. I think this contributes to my “carefree” attitude about drawing, ha ha ha.
Having what is essentially a “diary” of your life spanning such a long period of time perhaps gives you greater insight into yourself. How often do you read back on your old work? What’s that like? What sorts of things have you learned about yourself?
I like to go back and re-read the old stuff every few years or so. Usually it’s kind of embarrassing, especially when I read the really early comics when I was severely depressed and self-medicating. It really makes me feel good about how far I’ve come in just 15 years, and makes me wonder how far I will go in the future.
If you had to choose one artistic piece of output of yours (comic or otherwise) that would be representative of who you are to show someone who is not familiar with your work, what would it be (and if you feel like it, why)?
I think my first book, The Snake Pit Book, gets the idea across fairly well. The main thing that’s important to me is that readers understand that each book is just part of a larger thing. This is quite literally my life’s work.
What does 2016 have in store for you? Are there any new projects you’re planning on or would like to get involved in, or conventions you’ll go to, or creative directions you want to explore?
My new book, Manor Threat, will be released in the summer from Microcosm Publishing. I’m going to be at STAPLE! Con in Austin this year (sharing a table with Silver Sprocket as a matter of fact), and I might do some other cons if the opportunity arises.
Off the top of your head, who are some artists whose work you love that fans of your comics should check out?
John Porcellino, Julia Wertz, Jeffrey Lewis, Adam Pasion, JT Yost, Noah Van Sciver, Delaine Derry Green, Rachel Dukes, and Chynna Clugston are a few favorites I can think of right now.
What question do you like to be asked / wish you were asked but never were… and what’s the answer?
My favorite question ever came from a five-year-old kid at a convention once. He picked up a copy of my zine, “Tales From the Crapt,” which has a picture of me coming out of a toilet on the cover. The kid looked at it and asked “Why are you weird?” My answer: “Because it’s fun!”