Interview with Comic Writer Dina Gachman

What makes Dina Gachman so cool is that she’s a lot like me. Okay, I don’t edit a super popular blog about the bizarre things rich people do (and buy), and I don’t have a hit comic series about dating in LA or a gig with Bluewater Productions to write comics about influential women. But like me, Ms. Gachman is a bit of a comics late bloomer. She proves to us all that even if we weren’t obsessed with comics as kids, we can still build successful careers in the comic book industry.

Convince us, in one sentence, that your comics are awesome.

They’re a little strange, a little comedic, and you’ll learn a lot of cool things about some pretty strong, ballsy women in the process.

What is your favorite comic or graphic novel?

My favorite is probably The Wild Party by Joseph March, art by Art Spiegelman. I got it as a gift a long time ago and the rhythm of the words and the style of the art together really do feel like you’re listening to music. It’s kind of a jazz poem with drawings- it would make a great short film. In elementary school I fell in love with this illustrated book written in the 70s called Motel of the Mysteries – it’s not a traditional graphic novel or comic book I guess. All I know is it felt like one when I read it and still does. I love Persepolis and Maus too, and Dean Haspiel’s style.

What (or who) inspired you to begin creating comics? Why did you begin writing and creating comics?

I never really read comic books as a kid besides something like Motel of the Mysteries – I barely knew what a panel was, let alone how to go about writing a comic book. About a year ago I got involved with Bluewater Comics, had a call with the publisher Darren Davis, and our styles seemed to really mesh, so I got my first comic book gig that way. I pitched an Elizabeth Taylor comic book, asked him to send a sample script since I had no clue what I was doing. I studied filmmaking in grad school so once I got the loose format down it felt very natural – like creating storyboards for a film. Then an artist I had worked with before, Amy Saaed, suggested we create an online graphic novel based on this story I had written about relationships and dating in LA. Being naive and green we dove in – not realizing the crazy amount of hours and work it would take. But we launched that project, Fling Girl, in December and it’s tough but we really love the process. It’s a cool way to collaborate.

If your comics had a soundtrack, what songs/artists would it include?

Good question! With Fling Girl music is actually a huge part of each issue and the site in general. We work with labels like Sub Pop, Fat Possum, Merge, Partisan, and Cantora so I guess you could say it’s things like Dum Dum Girls, Black Keys, Deer Tick, She & Him – things like that. Really it’s what our characters would listen to. As far as the Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe books? Maybe 60s French pop, Serge Gainsbourg.

You started a blog called Bureaucracy for Breakfast that pokes fun at all the ridiculous things rich people do.  Did starting this blog inspire any one of your current comic endeavors?

It led me to Bluewater for sure. The blog mixes so-called highbrow culture with so-called lowbrow culture (I wrote about Snooki and Henry Miller in a post to give an idea) and Bluewater’s sensibility just felt very similar. Darren read the blog and I started writing for him. The illustrations I use for each blog post on BFB became really important too, so that visual component was there. I use a lot of vintage pinup art mixed with people like Snooki or Paris Hilton, and I think it became kind of a style, like a comic book in a way.

Tell me about your Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe comics.

I’m so excited about these. The research is pretty intense, but it’s so cool getting into the skin of these amazing, complicated women and trying to do them justice and not tell the same old story people already know, and tell it in a unique way. The Marilyn book took a lot longer to get into because I only knew the basic public perception – that she was a sexy bombshell. I couldn’t find a hook for a long time but when I started digging I found out how intelligent and complex and funny she supposedly was. She had a higher IQ than JFK. The Marilyn book comes out in August and Elizabeth in September – that one is on Amazon already. It’ll be in stores in the fall. Next up is Mary Pickford – I’m in the research phase right now. She was another amazingly intelligent, business savvy woman that people either don’t know about (unless they’re film buffs) or think of as “America’s Sweetheart.” Hopefully the book will shift that a little. She was pretty badass.

What path led you to becoming a professional comic writer? What was your experience with comics before Fling Girl?

Before Fling Girl just the first Bluewater book really. And filmmaking really ties into it – you’re basically making a 2D film.

What was most intimidating about breaking into comics, and what tips would you give others who are hoping to break in as well?

Not knowing how in the world to write them! I really wasn’t part of the scene but I would say online comics are a great start since printing is pricey, or you can just read and learn and either find a publisher that fits your style or do it DIY style – just start creating so you have a portfolio, whether that’s writing or art or both.

What advice would you give other aspiring comic artists and writers in regards to getting their stuff published?

If you don’t want to go the online route you could do some fundraising, maybe create panels and do Kickstarter or something like Womanthology or the Occupy comic did, or write your script and pitch it to indie publishers. And don’t be intimidated by the word “NO.” Just keep going.

How do you think the experience of comic creating and publishing differs for men and women (if it does at all)?

Honestly I’m not sure. I haven’t felt any resistance, but I’m also not trying to write the next X-Men for Marvel, you know? Although that would be pretty fun.

What is your next project?

I’m working on the Mary Pickford book, and another book that’s a more traditional fantasy/adventure comic. I’m also working on a comedy TV pilot that’s live action – it’s kind of Arrested Development in Podunk Texas.

If you liked this interview, check out Dina’s interview on the Lit Pub

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