“I Don’t Want to Be an Expert”–A Chat with Keiler Roberts

Welcome to the coronavirus special.

OK, not really.

But if you’re taking your social distancing seriously–and for the sake of the most vulnerable among us, I hope that you are–you might suddenly find yourself with a bit more time on your freshly washed hands. Hopefully this week’s episode featuring my dear friend the artist Keiler Roberts will be a balm and a welcome hour’s worth of distraction.

Keiler has been writing autobiographical comics for ten years. Her six books include Sunburning, Chlorine Gardens, and, most recently, Rat Time, all three of which were published by Koyama Press. Her self-published autobiographical comic series Powdered Milk received an Ignatz Award for Outstanding Series in 2016, and in 2019 Chlorine Gardens received Slate’s Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Print Comic of 2018, which was selected by The Slate Book Review and The Center for Cartoon Studies. Her work has been included in The Best American Comics in 2016 and 2018 and was mentioned on their Notables list for 2014. Her work has been featured in numerous gallery exhibitions, including a solo show in Northern Ireland at The Naughton Gallery at Queen’s University, Belfast, curated by Ben Crothers. She has taught at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago since 2013 and lives in Evanston, Illinois, with her husband, the artist Scott Roberts, their daughter Xia, and perhaps the most famous cartoon pet since Snoopy, their dog Crooky.

This week on the show, Keiler and I talk about the thrill of the possibility of failure, embracing disorganization, the difficulties that arise when you try to do an unnameable activity, why telling someone “just be yourself” can be bad advice, and the difference between a story that’s funny to tell and a story that’s funny to draw.

SHOW NOTES

Find Keiler online at keilerroberts.com or follow her on Instagram at @keilerjean.

I wrote about Bjork’s mouth noises in my round-up of my favorite songs of 2019 here

The panel where Xia says “this house is getting naughtier and naughtier” comes from Miseryland.

Gene Kannenberg Jr., an Evanston-based artist, was featured on I’ll Follow You, episode #4.

Emil Ferris, creator of the mega-successful graphic novel My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, is an Evanston-based artist as well.

Anya Davidson

Beth Hetland

Mike Freiheit

Jeffrey Brown

Among other places, you can order Keiler’s books through Better World Books online.

Here’s the the front cover of Brian Cremins’s book Captain Marvel and the Art of Nostalgia, featuring original artwork drawn by Keiler.