Graphic Novelist Lucy Knisley Talks about Family, Recipes, and Illustrating Some of Her Favorite Food Memories

Categories: Chow Bella

Editor's Note: Explicitly Graphic is a monthly column on our arts blog, Jackalope Ranch, by Cynthia Clark Harvey (who's working on a graphic novel of her own). From time to time, Harvey reviews graphic novels, talks to artists, and dives into the scene of all things explicitly graphic. Today, she's sharing her discussion with graphic novelist Lucy Knisley on Chow Bella.

Lucy Knisley
Lucy Knisley's new book, Relish (First Second), is a piquant medley of family memoir, cookbook, and paean to food.

Knisley shares her appreciation of edibles ranging from the simple, yet sublime, "tomatillos (which I'd peel and eat, hot from the vine, crunchy and delicious, after unwrapping them like pieces of hard candy)" through the middle ground of a fondness for "comfort grease" to a childhood taste for foie gras heightened by an injurious encounter with a flock of geese. Sprinkled throughout are recipes, most of which I want to try.

Lucy Knisley and I communicated recently via email while she is on a tour for Relish.

See also:
- Cynthia Clark Harvey's Explicitly Graphic Column on Jackalope Ranch
- Phoenix Cartoonist Doug Pike Finds Wine World Funny and Profitable

Yours is the first comic book I ever read that made me hungry.
Granted, I'm not a dainty eater, but still, who would expect to develop, mid-way through an autobiographical cartoon, the cavernous need to sauté and consume a pound or three of mushrooms?  How'd you do that with such simple text and drawings? 

What's interesting about images of food is that they can so easily lack the visceral reactions we so often have to food-- that immediate "I wanna eat that!" thing. Making a drawing of food look appetizing can be tough. I took it as a challenge to try to make readers hungry, so I'm always happy to hear when that succeeded!

Was any of "Relish" published on-line or stand alone before the book came out?  
Nope! Book only. I wanted it to be a complete read.

What was the easiest part of making and publishing this book?  The hardest?

The easiest part was coming up with food memories to tell my story. I love food, and so many of my childhood memories are associated with meals, so it was a great way to tell my story. The hardest part was dealing with the fact that comics take a lot of steps and time to make, and I wanted to take my time to make sure it looked good, but it was so frustrating not to be able to share it faster!

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