Posted on January 2, 2017
A Few Fave Female Cartoonists, Comics, and Illustrators
By Cybele Knowles
There are so many great female comic artists, cartoonists, and illustrators at work these days. Here are just a few of my faves.
Most representations of animals are as much depictions of the human condition as they are of the animal. Brooke Barker, creator of Sad Animal Facts, understands this Catch-22 and uses it brilliantly to both create great understanding for animals and reflect on the human condition.
Each of her single-panel comics presents one true “sad” animal fact. The animal in question, with face of woe or irritation and usually heavy eye-bags, provides a self-deprecating, regretful, or sarcastic comment on its situation.
The delight of Brooke’s work lies in learning fascinating facts about animal biology and laughing at the pithy, pitiful comments uttered by her sad animals. Through these comments, it becomes clear that this series is equally about the beautiful diversity of life on earth and the sad animal fact about us humans: our ability to reflect painfully on our limitations.
Gemma Correll is a whiz with these very important life-things: Puns and other wordplay. Pugs. Personifications. Lists. Variations on a theme. Snark. Her work acknowledges and gently pokes fun at the countless worries and insecurities that our aspirational society breeds. As a balm, her work often celebrates a life of hanging out at home, braless, in a dirty robe, with just the pets for company, drinking tea or wine and watching Netflix or reading a book. Honestly it doesn’t get better than that.
Rebecca Tobin’s ink-and-paint illustrations are some of my favorite art pieces these days. There is a psychedelic quality to her colors and shapes. But she applies this psychedelic voice to the everyday as much as she does to exotic or imagined locales. Her depictions of relatively mundane moments, such as bumping into moth on a dark street or looking at a favorite comic book from childhood, bring out the wonder these moments can contain for sensitive souls. She also renders wonderful animals and animal-people in a world of their own. The images Rebecca shares from her journal on Instagram are like a never-ending fabulous picture book for adults.
I often think of my uterus as this super-focused goal-setter that just refuses to give up. Every month for 30+ years, it has prepared for the Wonderful Event: the arrival of a fertilized egg to protect and nourish. Every month this doesn’t happen. Does this discourage my uterus? Nope. It gets right back to planning, preparing, and hoping. Unlike me, it is constitutionally incapable of hopelessness. Role model material!
So one of my favorite running gags in Sarah Andersen’s work is her personification of a menstruating uterus. Clearly Sarah suffers from intense periods because her uterus is snarling, take-no-prisoners, and never-back-down. It’s one of the many delightful flashes of black humor in her multi-panel pages, which sometimes (not always) end in flames, death, or trauma eyes.
Puuung is a South Korean illustrator who’s been doing a series illustrating the life of a young couple and their cat. The moments she illustrates are simple, everyday moments in a shared life: giving a hug to your partner from behind while they’re cutting vegetables at the kitchen counter. Turning off the bedside table lamp for your partner after they’ve fallen asleep. Watching a video together on a tablet. Sharing what happened during the work day. Puung’s large, lavishly detailed, gold-lit single-panel illustrations communicate the priceless riches contained in these seemingly humble moments.
There is one aspect of these illustrations that’s not humble, however: Puung’s couple and their cat live in a large, beautiful apartment. Through the illustrations we continually discover vast new spaces within it: balcony, game room, sitting room, perfectly appointed kitchen, luxurious bath. The fantastical largeness of this urban dwelling renders visible the feeling of abundance one can experience in a loving relationship. Because love, in the words of John Donne, “makes one little room an everywhere.”
Cybele Knowles is the founder and editor of All-Girl All-Comedy Reviews. You can learn more about her at cybeleknowles.com.