Interview with Liz Bolduc by Natalye Childress for Silver Sprocket
Can you tell us more about your comic and the job you share in it?
In this comic, I was trying to decide how to accurately portray or tell my experience of running out of steam, becoming emotionally exhausted, and being frustrated by someone I was kinda seeing at the time. I wasn’t happy around him ever, but I wasn’t sure how to stick up for myself. That translated to me not being able to stick up for myself at the donut shop when I faced rough moments.
This comic allowed me to go back to that time and stick up for myself and talk about my experience. Having the owner of the place tell me I sound like a b*tch was incredibly embarrassing. I want to be loud and open about the difficulties of mental health and working fast-paced, loud jobs (or any job). I did have good days there, but I thought talking about my low points was really important, in order to be able to vocalize pain or suffering or frustration so that someone who reads it can go: “Finally — I am not the only one!”
The job I held at the donut shop was to simply get up at the crack of dawn, put donuts on display, and sell them to the long lines that would form at 7 a.m. and not let down until noon. So honestly it sounds like a dream, right? The best part I think was being able to create your own dream donut when you were on break. Sure, I could have picked up a pink lemonade-glazed donut — BUT I COULD ALSO TAKE A DONUT AND DUNK IT IN CHOCOLATE AND THEN PINK LEMONADE GLAZE AND COCONUT CHIPS!
I got this job within my last month of living in my college town, a few weeks after graduation. I was done with school and determined to live in Boston, but I was without an apartment or a job. One day I got asked to interview for the position and someone else said they would interview me for their vegan punk apartment and I made plans for both in one day. I was extremely broke but hauled my ass to Boston and nailed both interviews, leaving that day with a job and a house for the next month. It was a goddamn miracle.
What effect did finally quitting this job have on you and your mental state?
Quitting this job allowed for me to feel way better about myself and I realized that I can’t go full steam ahead in a food service job. Every single human who works in food service is my hero. I am still working within that branch of work, but it takes a huge toll on me mentally and physically. So at least when I left this job I was able to lay in the park and cry more often.
My advice to those who are in food service: Take care of yourself! Please! The emotional labor and physical labor that goes into working and interacting with numerous humans for seven hours or more a day is exhausting. Don’t push yourself if you feel your seams ripping apart even a little bit. And also: Always offer to take out the trash because at least you can leave a situation, go outside, and pause for a moment (even if it does smell like garbage).
What is the BEST job you’ve had?
So while I was slinging donuts that summer, I also happened to score a children’s librarian assistant job for the city public library around the same time. It was less than five minutes from my house, and I was excited to get back into working within library systems. It quickly became a place of comfort and felt like home. I immediately knew it was the right decision.
My duties were shelving and reshelving children’s picture books and nonfiction books. I probably returned bean bag chairs and plastic carrots or plastic chicken wings to the “kitchen” area of the room over a thousand times. It amazes me where kids can hide toys in a room full of book-filled shelves.
I also met one of my closest friends there, who happened to be my supervisor. Cathy is my librarian role model and inspiration. We used to gossip about dating and share punk music experiences.
What is the value or purpose in making art?
The purpose of making art is so specific to each person, which is the most exciting aspect to me. I create, value, and have the purpose of making art to expel all of the gunk and shit that is inside of me that is focused heavily around feeling poorly. I need to get rid of these feelings inside of me or at least try to pinpoint exactly how my anxiety feels and give it a face, or at least an image on a piece of paper.
Drawing and making comics also gives me a feeling of purpose in life. Existence is all absurd and weird! And so this is my response to the absurdity. So creating adds a happiness to my life that I am able to share my feelings with myself and with others if they are interested.
I have been told once or twice to “just keep a private diary,” but, hehe, that is just not how I work. I am going to be vocal about the pain that I experience and I encourage others to speak up if they feel comfortable. Strength in vulnerability! The personal is political!
The downside is that since I started drawing comics, I have not been able to relax or even watch a full movie with ease. I am always going, always thinking, always telling myself I should be sketching or getting better. So that’s tough, and it’s something I am trying to work on, because although it’s great there is a fire inside of me to create, it shouldn’t hurt me or prevent me from relaxing from time to time!
Do you think artists have a social responsibility?
I believe that an artist should create what feels good to them or be honest and respectful in their work, especially with autobiographical comics.
I wouldn’t say my work is sweeping the masses and curing the common cold and therefore helping balance the population. But I kind of took in the phrase “the personal is political” from my women and gender studies seminar’s text and allowed it to fill me with confidence in what I am doing. What I have to say is important. So what I create and share is important and helpful. Not everyone is going to like it or want to read it or connect with it, and that’s OK! But someone will and that can be a beneficial relationship between the reader and my comics.
I feel comforted when I hear that other people experience some of the feelings I have. So within this idea that the art we create and share is personal and also political, that is fulfilling a social responsibility.
What are you working on now?
Currently I am working on a 12-month-long comic diary. I recently moved to Philadelphia and it has been QUITE the adjustment or attempt to adjust. So I am trying to document these feelings, depression and anxiety, as well as the good moments of happiness and friendship. I am trying new styles and pushing myself to create the best work possible and hopefully can release it myself in early 2018. I like self-creating and self-publishing. I also love long-term projects… haha, I am really bad with short-term projects or comics.
If someone liked your comic in As You Were, what would you recommend they check out next?
I would recommend checking out Brittany Naundorff, Julia Wertz, Ramsey Beyer, and Meredith Park!
For more from Liz Bolduc, check out their website and follow them on Instagram.