Monday, November 26, 2018

"Olivia Jaimes, the Mysterious Cartoonist Behind ‘Nancy,’ Gives Rare Interview"

Vulture:

Why did you decide to lead off your run on the comic with the strip about Nancy eating corn bread?

I went back and I looked at the end of [previous “Nancy” cartoonist] Guy Gilchrist’s run. Nancy as a character had drifted from where I envision her, in that the Nancy I know and love is a total jerk and also gluttonous and also has big feelings and voraciously consumes her world. And I was like, I need to do a character-reset week. Just kinda being like, Here’s who Nancy’s gonna be right now. And also, I love corn bread. So, that’s it. That’s the reason. I wanted to reset expectations and pay homage to my favorite food.

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How do the adult characters fit in? You’ve made Aunt Fritzi less sexualized than she was in the Gilchrist era, and you’ve introduced a new teacher character. How do they function in the Nancy-verse?

Fritzi I see as just Nancy, but Nancy who apologizes. Fritzi is like a Nancy who knows that she should do this or that and feels bad when she doesn’t. She’s dealing with the responsibilities of adulthood and caring for this child, who has come into her care for some reason. Which, actually, I don’t know: Why is Nancy living with Aunt Fritzi? I’ve read a lot of the old strips, I’ve never seen this addressed.

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What was the note you wrote down for the famed “Sluggo is lit” Labor Day strip? Did you just write down “Sluggo is lit?”

No, actually, I had a couple of worse ideas for Labor Day because Labor Day is Nancy April Fools’. Ernie Bushmiller would always [jokingly] be like, “I’m not drawing Nancy today for X reason.” My first ideas were to make it a do-it-yourself strip, like, “I’m not gonna write the joke, so here’s a bunch of blank speech bubbles.” Or one where there’s just like a bunch of different scenes stolen from other comics. And then I was like, Actually, what are the panels that would most upset the person who likes me the least? The most upsetting panel to somebody who’s like, “Nancy sucks now”? I actually went to Shena because I don’t read the comments. Shena was like, “Oh, definitely have a panel that’s all phones.” And then I’d been joking with her at the very beginning about how I was going to make Fritzi [who wore very formfitting outfits in the Gilchrist era] wear a parka, and she was like, “People would hate that.” But then I was like, the incarnation of what I imagine my greatest hater would despise most is Nancy interacting with every piece of technology using words you don’t understand. So, yeah, that’s where that one came from.

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Let’s talk about the appearance at Cartoon Crossroads. How did that come together?

Shena put me in touch with the organizers and was like, “Hey, this is just something to consider.” It was really just to toe the waters and see what this might be like, and also to put rumors to rest that I wasn’t a woman or was a team of people. Also, it’s in this context where Shena knows lots of people, and it can be something very limited. This does not mean that I wasn’t terribly nervous. I was like, Ohhh, what could happen? I did spend two hours before I went on in a closet because it was in a library, and the room that I could come out of to go into the room we were in was a closet. I just hung out in there for two hours after I snuck into the library, watching The Good Place. That was part of the experience, just some good old-fashioned closet-sitting. It was nice, and I’m glad that I got to do it. I’m glad that I got to prove that I’m a real person. And I’m glad that nobody doxed me, which was also really nice.