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Author Interview: Georgia Webber

August 2, 2018

WOTS is coming up fast…but just not fast enough! So we’re joining the Dufferin Grove Farmers’ Market with The Word On The Street Pop-Up! We sat down with Georgia Webber, who will be joining us to read at the event.

Be sure to join us there on today!

 

WOTS:  DUMB is a memoir of your recovery from a throat injury that left you voiceless, and the word “dumb” was the original terminology for the inability to speak. What made you identify with the word “dumb”?

Georgia Webber: I wanted a title that wasn’t obvious, but made sense. Voicelessness is invisible, and very unexpected, so I knew that the word “dumb,” which has adopted other meanings, would recreate the element of surprise that people experience when they first interact with me. “Dumb” offers me something else, too—a chance to both subvert the classic cartoonist trope of self-deprecating humour, and to lighten the work by playing into that humour.

 

WOTS: Tell us a bit about your process. How did you start creating comics? How do you think getting into comics is different from becoming a fiction author?

GW:  I was an unrelenting artist as a child, and a compulsive writer as a teen, so my two worlds of comfort became one exciting new territory to explore when I was introduced to comics. I was so hooked, and then SO SCARED! A small burst of play and creativity was followed by years of cowardice, taking the publisher’s seat so I could hide behind my busy-ness instead of trying to realize my very unrealistic expectations of myself. Then my voice injury experience gave me a “now or never” moment, and I chose “now.” My process is more kind and a lot more slow than it was at the beginning, while I pushed and pulled myself through learning how to draw again.

I really have no idea how to compare my winding path of becoming a comics artist to what anybody else has done with fiction or fact, in prose or in pictures. I can tell you this: when I imagine a story, or construct one from the events of my life, I’m following a rhythm of felt experience. I write to recreate that experience for my audience, and while writing for them I sometimes use words, and sometimes drawings, sometimes images, space, light, texture—but combining it all is a process of writing, to me.

 

WOTS: DUMB is a memoir that takes the form of a comic series. What drew you to tell your story through this medium?

GW: I was already drawn to comics, it was the story I was waiting for. Naturally, the one I was compelled to write was complicated to translate to this medium. It is a story about voice, an ephemeral and sonic phenomenon, and pain, a slippery experience to describe with any tools you might find. I had to describe them both in silent images on a static page! That was my favourite part, though: translating sound to silence, coding my inner world for those who could never join me in it. I chose comics because the medium felt well suited to asking others the same questions I was asking myself, silently.

 

WOTS: What are your favourite places to write and draw? Any quirky must-haves when it comes to sitting down and writing out – or drawing out – your experiences?

GW: I like to draw on BIG tables, so I can lay out and read the pages that came before the one I’m working on. When I don’t have a big table, I often lay out my pages on the floor, and draw where I can glance down at them regularly. I carry a clipboard everywhere with me so I can draw anytime, in any place.

 

WOTS: What would you say to a comic artist who’s just starting out? What one thing do you think is crucial to know?

GW: Anything that’s worth knowing about making comics is worth knowing about all of life, and it’s terribly difficult to repeat to a general audience and maintain sincerity—but I’ll try.

Share what you make as you go. Each time you’re happy with your work, give it to the world. If you’re never happy with it, give it to someone you trust, and ask for support and feedback. Scott McLeod’s books are a big help for expanding your comics vocabulary, but you can also make it up! Have fun with it, but don’t shy away from the painful parts, too. Comics are a time-based medium, so appreciate the time you spend making them.

 

WOTS: DUMB is about the way that we communicate, and how we find ways to communicate when we aren’t able to speak in a way others expect. Given that it’s also a memoir, what do you hope readers take away from reading about—and potentially sharing in—your experience?

GW: I am not sure what anyone will take away from reading my work, and I hope that I left them enough room to decide for themselves what it is saying. I’m satisfied that anyone who is interested in my work is likely considering their voice more than they did before they encountered my comics, and that is beautiful.