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Interview: Anya Davidson

Interview: Anya Davidson

Anya Davidson is a cartoonist and musician living in Chicago, IL. Her most recent work, Band for Life, is a 250 page hardcover comic strip collection following a noise rock band in the Chicago music scene. The comic is about the band but told through the lives of it's members; their relationships, their hard ships and their day-to-day. 

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CYA: Your most recent graphic novel ‘Band for Life’ showcases slice of life interactions between bandmates in the Chicago music scene? What is the most ‘Chicago music scene’ part of the comic?

Anya Davidson: Haha that's tough. There's so much of Chicago in general in the book. But one thing that really struck me about the scene here was how inclusive it is of women. There are a lot of distinct DIY scenes here -there's an electronics community, a hardcore punk community, a noise rock scene (and a bunch of others that I don't have first-hand knowledge about)-but there really is an inclusiveness of women that I appreciate and that I haven't seen in every city I've been to-in the audiences and in the bands. And it's very welcoming to oddballs in general-people from all kinds of different backgrounds who've had trouble fitting in elsewhere seem to find a home here in the DIY community.

CYA: The characters all have incredibly vibrant personalities that develop so much over the course of the short strips. The decisions they make not only affect each strip but the overall trajectory of their character as their time as a band goes on. Do any of these personalities borrow heavily from people you’ve known or interacted with in your community?

Anya Davidson: None of them is based entirely on any one person-they're all composite characters-they're informed a lot by people I know, and a lot by different aspects of my own personality. But yes-I was hugely inspired by people in the community, for sure.

CYA: You’re a musician yourself. Has your own experience playing music influenced not only the plot of your comics but the style of your art?

Anya Davidson: These questions are so good! Being a musician has definitely influenced my art style. Fly was the first punk cartoonist I knew about-her strip ran in Chris Boarts Larson's zine Slug&Lettuce. I've always appreciated a really raw, handmade aesthetic and that definitely comes from my love of punk flyers and album art. And I learned a lot about screen-printing so I could print band shirts and show posters. Plus most of the contemporary cartoonists I love are musicians as well.

CYA: Where does time management come in when you’re making comics, making music and … living life? Could you describe your life in any way as ‘normal’?

Anya Davidson: I think I'm pretty much an adult teenager. Sometimes I worry about it, but mostly I'm pretty happy that I have very few responsibilities. I kinda always knew I wasn't going to get married or have kids...I've always worked shitty part time jobs so I could have the time to make art-I feel lucky now that I'm getting more design and illustration jobs...But those are frustrating in different ways. I'm trying to challenge myself as much as I can as an artist, because my work is definitely my life's primary focus.

CYA: How much time are you able to focus on art and music? What is the major sacrifice or adjustment in your life you have to make to feel fulfilled, productive and secure?

Anya Davidson: I've been really lucky - I graduated from dog-walking and pet care jobs to museum guard to museum education staff to after-school art teacher to freelance designer. So now, about 14 years after graduating college, I'm spending most of my time on art and music 

CYA: Is there time for relationships, friends and fun? You put so much work into making art that is often an escape for readers, what is your favorite way of escaping from what’s going on with you when you need a break?

Anya Davidson: My partner's also a cartoonist. He lives in the apartment above me, which is a great arrangement, cause we hang out when we want to but we still have personal space. To be honest, I don't really need to escape from anything, other than the frustration of working for clients, (and the frustration of living under a fascist fucking dictatorship) and I never really want to take a break. I do love to read and walk my dog.

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Band for Life is available via Fantagraphics Books. Anya also runs her own webstore where she sells art, shirts and other creations.

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