Roberta Gregory

Roberta Gregory

Bitchy Bytch | Roberta Gregory | Roberta Gregory’s diabetic cat! | Women in comics

Roberta Gregory always figured she was a bit weird for drawing comics, but then it made her become super-rich and respected. Well, respected.

Well, I noticed way back when I was a small child, (in the 1960s!) there were hardly any women doing comics. All through my childhood I wrote and drew my own stories about animals, strange civilizations on other worlds, etc which I always thought were too weird for anyone else to be interested in. And besides, nobody would want to see them because girls didn’t do comics. I have found just some of them stowed away in a box and even though they are just part of what I did back then the amount of pages is staggering! That must be why I remember so little of my childhood and early life. It makes me realize this must be what I was put here to do. I am over fifty now, though you would never know it, and people keep saying I have a lot of comics out there, and I just keep thinking, this is just scratching the surface. There are so many MORE projects that I want to do!

Oh, I wish I had a regime. I would get a lot more done. I usually sit down at the drawing board when I have a deadline beckoning, but I am so easily distracted. I still feel guilty because I haven’t taken the laundry out of the dryer, or someone sent me an email about something they think is very important and I would feel bad about ignoring it…. I am much better this year about starting to get projects done. Last year I was trying to make money with my temp and part time jobs, and it seemed just a waste of time with little to show for it. I had a heap of wonderful projects to do, but was barely getting any work done at all. My metaphor was having a huge stadium full of colorful bowling balls at one end and I was trying to get them all to the other end… inching them along bit by bit but none of them getting to the goal, running back and forth and pushing them all along with a broom.

I am at the tape/cd/radio level of technology, though I did get my record player fixed recently so now I have all my 30-year-old lp’s to listen to, too….. the whole spectrum from heaps of old Jethro Tull to those Olivia women’s records and other great LGBT music from the 1970s. I haven’t been doing much drawing lately, mostly writing, so most of my current music is more background-y. I just picked up some dollar used tapes, women’s vocals such as a group called Connemara, Celticky stuff. Also, splurged and got a couple CD’s of a gal named Faith Rivera, very pretty music. We just got progressive talk radio here in Seattle, an Air America affiliate, so I have been listening to a lot of that, unfortunately, which is why I know the neo-con fascists are trying to take over. (Or else, maybe they already have and I am in denial like most other Americans….) I don’t know what to do about it, beyond trying to crank out as much work as possible now so I can get it done before I get dragged off and thrown in a camp somewhere.

Well, being a globally-loved comics creator and a dollar will buy me a cup of coffee, unfortunately. About the only time I was making enough money to live on was when Cinemaria was animating Bitchy for their cartoons, and I still was making pathetically small amounts compared to most other people. I think at the height of the animation work, for one year I was making close to the ‘median’ income for Seattle and I was living like royalty, by my standards. I was even able to buy myself real health insurance and go to the dentist! I am used to getting by on a fraction of that, which is what I am pretty much doing at the moment. At the height of Naughty Bits I was maybe making five thousand dollars a year from Fantagraphics. I don’t know what that would be in the UK but probably not much. When a book gets published in another language, I get some thing like a flat $500. That is like a month of rent, but that only would happen twice a year at the very most, and not every year.

I keep hoping things will accumulate: my readers, the amount of books and comics and pages I churn out, extra art jobs, more people discovering my work and my web site and buying comics off it, etc. The hypnotherapy is another way to hopefully make extra money. I have had to have part time jobs doing crap that has nothing to do with writing or drawing, (besides eventually using it as material for comics) like mopping up after basketball games, cleaning bathrooms, picking up after concerts, etc. At least it is union and pays okay, but my poor body is giving out. I would much rather ruin my back at the drawing table rather than by trying to pick up a mop bucket at two in the morning.

Bruce has been doing hypnotherapy for decades and was encouraging me to give it a go. It is basically helping people improve their lives in many ways, however they want to. NOT putting them up on a stage and making them do embarrassing things in front of a lot of people. (That is entertainment, which often has a cruel streak, if you watch TV at all.) What I envision doing (for pay!) is just talking to people, showing them how to relax and focus, and then work on anything from weight management to quitting smoking, being more motivated, putting events in the past in perspective so it has less of a negative effect on the present. The sky is the limit, and all you have to do is sit and talk to people. It is pretty amazing. I used to be the world’s worst sleeper, would have an impossible time getting to sleep and then would wake up too early and lie awake fretting about money, too many deadlines, health problems and such, and I ended up taking all sorts of over-the-counter things to try to sleep. I even got onto a sleep study at a local hospital which was not much help. Once I had studied hypnotherapy a bit, all I did was make myself a tape with suggestions to improve sleep and listen to it for several evenings and it is like magic! I still keep odd hours, since I am an artist, of course, and my ‘day job’ is usually at night and weekends, but if I wake up in the middle of the night I just go right back to sleep and do not lie awake for hours any more.

People have always asked me for advice and most of my friends think I am just the kindest and most sympathetic and patient person they know (NOT at all like Bitchy) so I guess this is just another under-utilized skill of mine, which I should turn into another career. When my health is so shot, I can barely do anything else, at least I will be able to talk to people!

Wow, you must have anticipated I would give long, gabby answers. Well, the tiny, wee version is a story set in another world with winged people, starring a girl who leaves home to follow the boy she loves.

The bigger nutshell is more interesting. Their culture is very war-oriented (they are cornered on their ‘sacred mountain’ and running out of resources rapidly) and her boyfriend, a sickly, weak little fellow, whom she really pities rather than genuinely loves, is slated to join the army (which spends more time committing atrocious war crimes rather than any sort of legitimate warfare) and his only way out is to join the monastic branch of their very dysfunctional Goddess religion in which he has to lop off his wings and castrate himself. The poor girl is totally enmeshed in her dysfunctional family, her mother is very emotionally unstable so she sees this as a chance to escape, but soon finds out she has really gotten in over her head…. this is only the beginning. Big changes happen in her life and even bigger things happen to her people. Believe it or not, there is loads of humor in it. You know me!

It is set in one of the worlds of my Winging It epic, and expanded into a backup comic story in the second volume. It has gone on to a regular, text novel (I don’t have to draw anything!) which runs about the length of a trilogy, three novels of about 250 pages each. I have not tried publishing it, but it is my absolute favorite project of all time. I will start editing it and then get so lost in the story that hours pass! I am also creating a prequel which would be gorgeous as a web comic, in color. I still have not quite designed how the characters appear. I wish I could just work on this, but since it is potentially the least financially-rewarding of all the projects on my plate, it gets pushed to the back of the queue. For the time being. Again, things will change, and you should expect to see more of Mother Mountain soon.

Bitchy Bytch | Roberta Gregory | Roberta Gregory’s diabetic cat! | Women in comics