Emily Flake turns the mundane stuff of life into dark satire. For The Nib, the Brooklyn-based New Yorker cartoonist has illustrated a series of things you should have accomplished by age 35, highlighted “porn for moms,” and penned a list of silver linings to the fact that climate change dooms us all.
She was interviewed by Sarah Mirk.
How did you get started making comics professionally? Was there a point when you had to take the plunge into making art your career?
I figured out in art school that if I could make my art funny people would be more forgiving about its flaws. I went to school for illustration but I’ve always had a cartooning and writing angle going too; in 2006 I started socking away all my day-job money and living only on my freelance income; when I’d done that for a few months I figured I had at least sort of a chance of making a living plus I had a nice little pad of money (which I promptly burned through).
A lot of your comics laugh at darkness, doom, and despair. How do you keep making art and being productive in a world that’s on fire?
In all honesty: How else are we going to survive this, if we don’t have any way to laugh?
Your next book is called That Was Awkward: the Art and Etiquette of the Awkward Hug. What’s the premise of the book?
It’s a taxonomy of awkward hugs — descriptions and drawings, and you would not believe how many awkward hugs are out there, my friend.
Can you describe a particularly awkward hug you’ve received?
There’s one I talk about in the book from my dad. I will leave it at that.
Your comics often satirize the mundane habits of family life. What’s something cool you’ve learned from your kids?
I’ve learned how to delouse heads, even when said head is attached to a squirming, yowling child it is a pretty cool skill, if I say so myself.
What’s your stance on the acceptable level of chaos for a home?
Whatever level we’re at, plus a little.