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Tag Archives: Fab4 Mania

Carol Tyler Eisner Winning Comic Writer & Artist Interview by Alex Grand & Jim Thompson

Read Alex Grand’s Understanding Superhero Comic Books published by McFarland Books in 2023 with Foreword by Jim Steranko with editorial reviews by comic book professionals, Jim Shooter, Tom Palmer, Tom DeFalco, Danny Fingeroth, Alex Segura, Carl Potts, Guy Dorian Sr. and more.

In the meantime enjoy the show:

Alex Grand and co-host Jim Thompson interview painter, autobiographical comics pioneer and 11-time Eisner nominee Carol Tyler, author of “Soldier’s Heart: The Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father: A Daughter’s Memoir”, You’ll Never Know, Fab4 Mania, and Late Bloomer. We cover her early work for Weirdo, Wimmen’s Comix and Twisted Sister to her current project. As well as her marriage to Justin Green (Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary), her friendship with the Crumbs, the controversy over her accepting the first Dori Seda Memorial Award, Leonardo DiCaprio’s babysitting skills and her life’s most tragic losses and greatest triumphs.

🎬 Edited & Produced by Alex Grand. Thumbnail Artwork, CBH Podcast ©2021 Comic Book Historians.

Images used in artwork ©Their Respective Copyright holders.

📜 Video chapters
00:00:00 Welcoming Carol Tyler
00:00:28 Family background & childhood
00:06:00 The Hannah Story
00:08:05 Did anyone opposed to not to tell?
00:09:50 All Those Tommys’ story
00:11:54 Gender discrimination
00:14:16 Prize-winning Fab4 Mania book
00:15:08 Any class differences? | Going Catholic school
00:19:40 High School
00:21:31 Reading comics | Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, Stanley’s Oona Goosepimple
00:22:34 Summer camp | Late Bloomer-Little Crosshatch Mind
00:26:32 Nancy vs Lulu
00:28:32 Learned from Ernie Bushmiller
00:29:39 Archie Comics: Sister liked it, I didn’t
00:32:02 My engineering skills
00:35:39 Husband in school/Meeting first husband
00:38:03 Painting with hash oil
00:39:07 Summer of 70s, Stoner Comics
00:41:20 Robert Armstrong’s Mickey rat | Underground Comix
00:42:35 Lake County Regional Planning Commission 1972-74
00:44:23 Leaving that marriage | In MTSU, found my personal vision
00:46:45 Artwork for Olympics, 1980
00:52:19 Doing narratives, Single panels
00:53:34 Boyfriend, Summer trips | Griffith and Justin Green
00:58:08 Weirdo Magazine
01:03:37 Contributing to Weirdo Magazine
01:05:25 Weirdo, Aline Kominsky-Crumb ~1986
01:08:18 Weirdo #18: 4 Red Brides
01:10:53 Uncovered Property in 1987
01:12:47 Pork Chops 1987
01:15:30 Weirdo #21, #24 | Auntie Mary
01:19:42 Weirdo #22
01:25:13 Lisa Lee
01:27:07 Lois Lane
01:28:07 First Dori Seda Memorial Award Best New Female Cartoonist, 1988
01:34:41 End of Weirdo
01:36:17 Mary Fleener, Julie, Aline
01:39:10 Frustrating printing process, in those early days
01:42:22 Weirdo vs Wimmen’s Comix in your work?
01:43:43 Know Deni Loubert
01:44:54 Trina Robbins
01:46:36 Sexism early Underground Comix
01:50:29 Leonardo DiCaprio’s babysitting skills
01:52:40 William Friedkin
01:54:02 Twisted Sisters | Late Bloomer, Robert Crumb’s comment
01:56:10 Adult Children of Plumbers & Pipefitters, 1991
01:58:51 Migrant Mother, 1993
02:02:14 Anne | The Hannah Story, 1995
02:05:27 Abduction of 12-year-old Polly Klaas
02:07:06 Anne hospital records, Anne’s Death
02:11:20 Computer Matching, Terrible Night at the Dance | Mind Riot: Coming of Age
in Comix
02:13:30 Substitute Teacher, 2002
02:14:49 My daughter into the comics | Late Bloomer
02:17:39 Outrage, 2005
02:22:33 Teaching comics college | Never used McLeod’s book
02:26:20 You’ll Never Know
02:30:19 Kim Thompson, Fantagraphics
02:32:20 Planning 3 volumes, Soldier’s Heart
02:34:54 Family’s reaction
02:36:52 Soldier’s Heart: The Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father: a
Daughter’s Memoir
02:39:56 It’s just changed you as an artist
02:43:18 Tomatoes, monthly strip for Cincinnati Magazine
02:47:31 Gallery show at University of Cincinnati
02:53:14 Year-full of recognition – stress and anxiety
02:56:47 Fab4 Mania | Beatles
03:00:21 Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
03:01:25 Lettering of Fab4 Mania
03:03:57 Favorite Beatles album, Beatles song, Beatle
03:06:14 Current projects – The Ephemerata (B&W)
03:16:38 Wrapping Up

#CarolTyler #SoldiersHeart #LateBloomer #ComicBookHistorians #Beatles
#Fab4Mania #Weirdo #DoriSoda #Fantagraphics #Eisner #ComicHistorian
#CBHInterviews #CBHPodcast #CBH

Transcript (editing in progress):

Alex Grand:
Well, welcome back to the Comic Book Historians podcast with Alex Grand and Jim Thompson. Today we have multiple Eisner Award winning writer and artist Carol Tyler joining us today. Carol, thank you so much for being here.

Carol Tyler:
So happy to be here.

Alex Grand:
Jim and I are going to hopscotch through your life. This Is Your Life sort of episode. So Jim, go ahead and start it off.

Jim Thompson:
Okay. So Carol, I always like to start with your birth and your [inaudible 00:00:33] and everything. This is going to be odd compared to normal because usually when I do it, we don’t know all the answers or we certainly haven’t read stories about everything. Whereas, I’m asking you questions here that I sort of know some of the answers already because they’ve been told in your comic strips over the years. So when I’m asking you these, feel free to reference the stories, like say, “Yeah. Well, I told this in my first story in Weirdo,” or something like that. It’s fine to give footnotes for us here.

Carol Tyler:
Okay.

Jim Thompson:
So, you grew up until age of nine in Chicago. Was that the North Side of Chicago?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah, we lived on Addison Street, which was between Riverview Park and Cubs Field. Right by the L train.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, that’s great. So you were right there by, was it Wrigley field, is that what it is?

Carol Tyler:
No we were we’re Lincoln Avenue. Okay. Wrigley was a ways down.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, okay. All right. So where you a baseball fan?

Carol Tyler:
Oh God. Well, let me just say baseball was so present in our lives back then in the fifties, like everybody played baseball and since we lived there, the L train, and it was crappy underneath there because it was these I-beams that went up, I-beams things so that the L would be up an elevated train. And so nobody had a house under there and it was where people would take their dogs and they’d never pick up the dog poop and there were broken bottles and all that stuff.

Carol Tyler:
And that’s where we played baseball. There’s always a pickup game going on because if you played in the street, you could block a car and somebody would be pissed off. To this day, I remember, “Car, car, C-A-R.” Which meant, “Get out of the street,” we’d be playing Stickball or something. But you could really hit away under the elevated. And then one of the fun things to do was, when the train would be going by, it would stop in a little bit over Addison street, that was where the station was. So as hard as we could, we’d get up and we try to throw stuff up so that the suction would make it stay up on underneath the L train and then it would stop and then bumped down and all the cars. We didn’t do that very often, because you couldn’t really get it up there, we weren’t that strong. But it was one of the fun things we always tried to keep doing. While I lived in Chicago, my parents had a business, they were in the plumbing business, pipe fitters.

Jim Thompson:
Your dad was a construction plumber, right? Is that what it was called?

Carol Tyler:
Well, in Chicago he was doing the whole thing. CW Tyler plumbing. So going through this stuff when my parents passed away, I found their books that they’d kept like, somebody had a toilet leaking up on Ashland Avenue or there’d be Mrs. So-and-so and her drain was stopped up. So my dad had to do all kinds of plumbing stuff. His dad was a plumber and so he learned the trade before he went into the war and when they got out and lived in Chicago, there on Addison, my mom did the bookkeeping and payroll and all that stuff but all of us kids were… That was the thing, I grew up playing with these elbows and copper pipes and bags of asbestos, cause they’d wrapped that around boiler pipes.

Jim Thompson:
Now did, did he want your brother, your older brother, to go into the business? Did he want him to be a plumber too?

Carol Tyler:
My older brother could not stand anything going on in our family. He was gone, he wanted to play, he wanted to be in sports. He was the guy instigating all the high jinks out on the street.

Jim Thompson:
Because he was kind of the leader, wasn’t he? The leader of everybody in the neighborhood.

Carol Tyler:
Yep, he and my sister. And they hated me because I was the baby that they had to drag along. So I was thinking about that. Like for example, when you were with my brother, he’d just say, ‘Today’s test is that we have to get from here to the end of the block and not have our feet touch the ground.” And so it’d be like, “What?” So which meant climbing and crawling and leaping across cars, garages, trees, everything, poor people’s porches because the test was that you couldn’t have your feet touch the ground. It was always something going on like that. We had fun but then I had to stay in the yard so I would do the test on my own. I wasn’t included in a whole lot of what was going on in Chicago because I was little and there was this heavy heaviness of the business and there was some kind of vibe I’ve interpreted over the years that they were maxed out grieving the loss of their first child that never got addressed that wrote about in The Hannah Story.

Jim Thompson:
Right. When did you find out about that?

Carol Tyler:
Well, I knew Ann existed but I didn’t know what really happened. I mean, the story was that she died of burns. So there you go, she died of burns. And then we’d be in the car and my mom, the only other time, once in a while, she’d say, “The first star in the sky, that’s Ann’s star.” So that was the extent of it. And we’d see pictures, you look through the photo albums, stuff which I show in The Hannah Story. I show going through the pictures and asking questions and pretty much being shut down.

Carol Tyler:
So it wasn’t until she was much older, and it was later in life, that she opened up and it happened because she was in a prayer group at her church. And this would be 40 to 50 years later when she finally told me the story. And then I was mortified at what really happened and as I dug deeper, because I wanted to do it as a comic story, and I found out more things and more horrors emerged, I wanted to do something, I was mad. I wanted to Sue them or do something but statute of limitations [inaudible 00:08:09]

Jim Thompson:
Historically speaking, has anyone ever said, “You are not going to tell this story, this is private, this is mine?”

Carol Tyler:
No, it’s all wide open.

Jim Thompson:
Is it really?

Carol Tyler:
Who’s going to say, “Don’t express yourself?” I mean, first of all, the first part, my family of origin, the Tylers, no expectations for me whatsoever. So when I did tell the stories, they’d be like, “Why did you have to make me look like dad?”, what my sister would say. Or some kind of, “Fine if that’s the way you see it, that’s it.” But yeah, it’s the way I saw it, from my perspective, if you got a beef, you do a comic or you tell it a different way.

Jim Thompson:
And that didn’t cause any long-term frictions? I realize all families have difficulties but-

Carol Tyler:
I don’t think I ever really said anything that was horrible. It was all always with love, kindly.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah. You’re probably harder on yourself than on anybody around you in some ways.

Carol Tyler:
Well, I’m not in it for the… What did I tell somebody the other day and I thought, “This should be my catch phrase.” Well, let me think. I’m not in it to hurt anybody. I’m not in it for the humiliation, I’m in it for the humanity.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah, yeah. That comes across too. I just went and re-read your ‘All Those Tommys’ story and that’s a book which is filled with that because that’s the very nature of that.

Carol Tyler:
That was in a book about assaults and me too. And yeah, I told about just how it was during those times in the early seventies, late sixties, early seventies to try to come of age sexually. I think I did it okay. I didn’t hurt anybody there except I did call out some people who were behaving… If they earn that bad behavior, they’re going to be called out.

Jim Thompson:
That seems fair. I noticed in a lot of those, in Mary Fleener’s story as well, a lot of times it’s not the sexual assault that hurts after all these years as much as almost the bad manners, the betrayal that goes along with it, the little details sticking in your head as much as any other aspect of it.

Carol Tyler:
Yeah, it was the double standard. In other words, you can’t be a fully engaged. You can’t be fully engaged but boy, we can. And if you do it, we’re going to label you. That’s what mine was about, being labeled as… And being put down because I was experimenting. So it became a stigma that was thrown on me by the men of the time. And I thought, “Well, you fuckers.”

Jim Thompson:
When you were growing up, was there a double standard in your house between your brother or brothers? Because you also had eventually a younger brother that was what? Nine years younger than you?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah. Yeah.

Jim Thompson:
And so did they get treated differently by your mom and your dad than the girls were?

Carol Tyler:
Well, the expectations were that my brother would go into the plumbing business but he didn’t want nothing to do with that, he wasn’t interested in any of my dad’s tools. My brother, Jim, was a little bit more interested in the tools and they decided for him that he’d grow into the trades. My brother was an athlete so he leaned towards that. My sister joined the convent because she was holy and I was wild and that was it. But they didn’t know where to stick somebody. They didn’t know how to deal with somebody who was outspoken or… Like I was very introverted but then I would do something that they considered to be a little bit weird. At the table one night I said, “Oh, I want to go to college.”

Carol Tyler:
He said, “You go to college? You’re just going to get married and be some guy’s wife. Why would I send you to college for that?” And I said, “Okay, don’t care. I’m going to do it, I’m going to go to college.” I had a lot of issues with being a Catholic girl like a whole lot of it that didn’t add up to me. And yeah, so there was that thing about boys and girls, It’s true. Boys could achieve, girls had to become Housewives. You need to go take typing and then become a secretary. Nobody ever said to me, “Wow, you’ve got talent. You can draw so well, I’m going to get you a private tutor.” Which people come to me and they want private tutors for their girls in this day and age. I want to help you achieve, I want to make sure. I guess it wasn’t on that generation to push their girls, I don’t know.

Jim Thompson:
So when you would win prizes for your sign design or something, I know the one that you won that you talk about in the Fab4 book. Did anybody encourage you at that point and say, “Wow, you really have a gift?” Did the nuns at school or anyone noticed that you could draw really well?

Carol Tyler:
Well, they knew it. They knew I could draw but when girls who drew back then could do nice backdrops, paint a nice backdrop for the bake sale. It was considered an additional skill for a good rounded person who could find themselves one day needing to use that skill to make a costume for their children.

Jim Thompson:
Of course. That makes sense. So, we’ve talked about gender. Let’s talk about class a little bit so we get both covered. At some point, you all left the north side of Chicago and you moved on up, as they say, on the Jeffersons to, was it-

Carol Tyler:
Moved on out. We moved out. It was an hour’s drive out of the city.

Jim Thompson:
That’s Fox Lake, Illinois?

Carol Tyler:
No, Waresville.

Jim Thompson:
And you went to a more upscale school where you were a little bit worried about the-

Carol Tyler:
No, it wasn’t upscale at all.

Jim Thompson:
It wasn’t?

Carol Tyler:
No. Chicago had us Catholic school system and we went to the parish school, St Andrews and when we moved to Fox Lake, there was a parish school. So I went from one Catholic school to another type of Catholic school. So there was no sense of class. It was just, you were in Catholic school.

Jim Thompson:
Okay. Because I [crosstalk 00:16:10] you were a little bit embarrassed about your… Making sure they understood your dad wasn’t a bathroom kind of a plumber.

Carol Tyler:
That was in high school, now that was different.

Jim Thompson:
That’s it? Okay. So I’m not wrong, I got ahead of myself. It’s when you got into high school and that wasn’t Catholic school?

Carol Tyler:
Yes, it was catholic school. I had 13 years of Catholic education.

Jim Thompson:
Ah, so it was in high school that you were feeling a class distinction.

Carol Tyler:
Yeah. And that’s because when I went to St Andrews, you had the parish school, so everybody in the neighborhood, they all went to the same school. And then we moved out to Fox Lake, it was local kids out there, all went to the same school, but once it went to high school, there was only one Catholic school in the whole County. And it was right in the middle of the County. So there were buses that would come from all over the County. So you’d have people coming from, out in the sticks like me and then you’d have people coming from larger cities like Waukegan, North Chicago, Highland Park, the wealthy suburbs included over on the North shore, closer to Lake Michigan, which was North of Chicago. There were Lake forest, there were wealthier enclaves communities. And then on the Western side of the County where I lived, up near Wisconsin, it was lakes.

Carol Tyler:
So there was fishermen and people with boats but there’s nothing glamorous about it. It was just very working class. And so we moved out there, that meant that my dad was going to have to commute back into the city because his plumbing ties are still in the city. And my mom had to get a little job local and keep us kids going and stuff like that. And then we’d get on the bus. I had get on the bus at quarter to seven in the morning. So I could get to school by whatever. It took 45 minutes to almost an hour to get to school every day, do the whole school day then they’d come home at night.

Carol Tyler:
And so the big when I got to high school was, wait a minute, I’m not in Fox Lake anymore. I’m not even in my neighborhood in Chicago. There’s a big world out there with all kinds of different people from different backgrounds. And the first order of business was people had to figure out where you fit. And I didn’t really fit because I was a hipster all along. I always felt like I knew what was going on and my brother was king of sports. And so I had an immediate status, we’re up here, because he was the all time champion of everything and people idolized him. So just by default, I was, in some ways. But at the same time, I was from Fox Lake and so part of the sniping that goes on with people is trying to put you down. I finally realized I didn’t belong in any of those groups and I don’t know. I just kind of became a, like a lot of artists, I became kind of an artist or outsider, always looking forward to the day when I’d get the hell out of school.

Jim Thompson:
And we’ll, we’ll save the 1965 and the Beatles and that period for later on when we’ll talk about your other book but [crosstalk 00:19:30]

Carol Tyler:
Okay, so that was the whole time just before high school. That was the end of eighth grade, just before it all turned into that high school angst.

Jim Thompson:
So the high school was tougher for you in a lot of ways, is that right?

Carol Tyler:
Well, first thing that happened was, I had a full set of braces put on. And so I remember having a headache all the time, going down to the counselor’s office and laying there because that’s back when they would turned as though to move your teeth. My jaw was really bad, it’s big now, yeah but… So they had to pull teeth and literally move my jaw back, they were supposed to do surgeries, my dad did it as a barter for this guy. Oh, what do you call it? Orthodontist?

Jim Thompson:
Yeah.

Carol Tyler:
So I would come to school and to just even go like this and touch the top of my head, it would just radiate with pain. I had so much facial pain my freshman year, I just felt terrible. And yet I was trying to look cool. The orthodontist said he wanted more work. My dad put in a bathroom and the guy said that that wasn’t going to cover the cost of the teeth. So just like that, they got all of that… They were supposed to stay on for another year and they just took them off. That’s why I have weird bite because he only got halfway through the job because my dad said, “Hell no, I’m not putting in a kitchen and I paid for your bathroom.” And then there was a fight over what the cost was. So I got stuck in the middle with this terrible grill. But then, the pain was gone and I was quickly able to assess what the hell was going on. And I got a lot of more attention being kind of an outsider artist type. What the fuck.

Jim Thompson:
Usually I ask people about their comic influences. A lot of them start reading and they’re reading superhero stuff and everything else. I know you weren’t doing that but you did read Mad and John Stanley’s, some of his books and Nancy and Sluggo and all of those.

Carol Tyler:
Lulu, and lulu.

Jim Thompson:
And then obviously, you were very into Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy strip.

Carol Tyler:
Yes, yes, yes, absolutely. Because my mother always got the newspaper. We were a newspaper reading family, especially at dinner time, there’d be a paper there. And so that’s when I would read Nancy.

Jim Thompson:
Was it weird? Was it weird going from the Bushmiller Nancy to the Stanley Nancy because they are two very different stories in a lot of ways. Were you reading Nancy when it was the Oona Goosepimple?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah, Goosepimple?

Jim Thompson:
Yeah, I love her.

Carol Tyler:
Well, I know I was reading Stanley in Chicago because one of the stupidest, fun things I ever did and I still love it because I had no power and my brother didn’t let me read his comics at all, of course. So the whole super thing was stupid to me anyway. I mean, I knew there were jokes inside the bazooka comics, bazooka gum. They always seem pretty lame.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah.

Carol Tyler:
So I didn’t care but when I read Nancy Goes to Summer Camp, I was about as far away from the country as you can be living in Chicago there on Addison street, I told you with the crappy, crappy lots. Where the alleys were also equally as crappy stunk garbage but the alleys were set up so that you’d pull in there and you could get into your garage because the other side would be a main thoroughfare of your street.

Carol Tyler:
So the blocks were set up in such a way in Chicago that there’d be a main street, somewhere halfway between that and the alley, there was thing called the gangway where you could cut through so you didn’t have to go all the way around. Then you’d be in the alley, then you’d find the gangway to the next front street and so on, you’d go through the whole city of Chicago going through gangways. So I got this idea one day after being completely demoralized by my siblings and thinking, wait a minute, I’ll skip thinking about summer camp and my parents were not going to be sending me to summer camp. But I thought, maybe I can have a pretend summer camp. So I got a towel and I put a t-shirt in it and I rolled it up like a bedroll. And then I made a sandwich. I don’t remember, it could have been either bologna or sandwich spread.

Carol Tyler:
I don’t think it was peanut butter it was probably a bologna sandwich with ketchup on white bread. And I probably folded it up in wax paper. And then I went through two gangways to an alley and I thought, “This one will do.” And I found [inaudible 00:25:00] somebody’s garage where it was set back from the alley just a little, just enough for me to put down that towel and eat my sandwich. And I thought I was at summer camp just like Nancy. And in my mind it was the summer camp from the big specials, remember? They make the fat-

Jim Thompson:
Oh yeah.

Carol Tyler:
So that to me was the ultimate thrill. Then I was at Camp [Fafa Mama 00:25:24] .

Jim Thompson:
That’s no worse than any other camp story I’ve ever heard.

Carol Tyler:
It was totally stupid. Could you imagine seeing a kid walking with a towel and eating a bologna sandwich and that’s what I did and I was thrilled and it’s amazing because ever since that comic, I had breeze in my head thoughts., You know, I did a comic in… I think it might be reproduced in Late Bloomer called Little Crosshatch Mind.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah. That’s in there. That’s the one with Nancy in it, right?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah. I talk about the way they drew the screens on the summer camp buildings at Camp Fafa Mama and just the idea that there would be a building that was all screens, there’s something about that. So I’ve always been attracted to screen doors and just the idea of that.

Alex Grand:
And there is also a bit of a discussion of Nancy versus Lulu in that too.

Carol Tyler:
Cause my mom said, “You liked Lulu, all the way and I remember reading Lulu and yeah, I made it into a punchline with the feet going [inaudible 00:26:47]

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Which, I mean, they’re different but I could see how there’d be a… I actually kind of messed them up too a couple of times before, so…

Carol Tyler:
I didn’t even know. I didn’t even know the ownership. I didn’t understand authorship. So I would read that and I was interested in the character and then it was like, sometime later, I’d say, “That looks a little different than the one I see in the paper.” And then it was like, Bushmiller by Ernie Bushmiller at the top, in the big bold letters. And then it took me years to figure out that somebody else drew that, how could that be? And then it was, Oh, the character, the character is the same, it was a little different but I didn’t really put the name John [stamp 00:27:34] , I didn’t understand that.

Alex Grand:
But also the Lulu was almost like situational comedy, right? Like a sit-com whereas the Nancy, there is all these funny geometric like breaking the fourth wall things that were going on all the time in that.

Carol Tyler:
Well, the Bushmiller Nancy, when I got on that, I thought, I mean, to me it was like perfection. This guy could nail a gig in three [inaudible 00:28:02] boom.

Alex Grand:
Yes, absolutely. Yep.

Carol Tyler:
You could read that and get the wholeness of that world, you could get the moment you’ve got the characters, such great writing, the brevity of it, it was perfect. And for me, challenged reader, I’d look at the other stuff on the page, like Mary Worth or… Be like, “Argh, so boring.”

Alex Grand:
I also like the Nancy’s head shape, I like a circle face.

Carol Tyler:
Well, I mean, I got it. I get this. I would look at the other stuff, I didn’t like the serialized work. I liked that it was done and done and here’s the strip, here’s the joke, next. And that kind of has carried on into my work when I started doing Weirdo stuff, I realized I had to have the joke in one page. So with Bushmiller, when I learned it’s all about the timing, it’s all about the setup and the timing, it’s all about that. So putting that thought that, “Wait, I got X amount of real estate here and I got to make something happen. And I got to set this up and I got to deliver.”

Jim Thompson:
Yeah. Both of them Stanley had a great comic timing too in terms of setting up the joke, you could just see it as he was coming.

Carol Tyler:
He did it better. I could not stand Archie Comics. My sister read those. They’d be like the boring, here we go, what’s going to happen at Riverdale high this week. I just could not relate.

Jim Thompson:
Well, that’s interesting. Did you just not care about the teen, that particular genre or was it just the lack of skill of the gag?

Carol Tyler:
My sister liked it, therefore I did not like it.

Jim Thompson:
Ah, that makes sense too. I got that.

Carol Tyler:
She was reading it in her teens and so there was nothing that I was going to be repulsed by more than her stuff.

Jim Thompson:
So was she playing sugar, sugar in the house and all that?

Carol Tyler:
My sister was Holy, but then she’d say things like… And she would listen to the radio, yeah. And she was overweight, she was unhappy and I found out later, she had a lot of responsibility thrown on her, but she was very quick to remind me how what a flake I was. She’d say, what’s the name of that gas station? We’d be in the car. What’s the name of the gas station right there? And I’d say, “Sinclair.” “Chico, Ooh, you’re going to hell. You told Claire to sin.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, that’s hilarious.

Carol Tyler:
I’d just be mortified. She was holy and she was official and I never believed. You talk about feminism? I remember sitting in church when I was little, little thinking, how come it’s God, the father and the son and the Holy ghost are all guys and then the woman is over here in a little special, extra area by herself. Why didn’t he send, why didn’t she send? So I never bought into the whole thing. I couldn’t believe that you look around the church, half the people in here are girls, women, ladies, the male priest, male servers, men, men, men, men. Oh, there’s Mary over there and we’re supposed to adore her, she’s perfect. I didn’t get it.

Jim Thompson:
So your brother goes off to college at Dayton and then you want to go to college too and you don’t have exactly the same options that he does-

Carol Tyler:
No.

Jim Thompson:
And you ended up going, you ended up going to Tennessee. Tell us how that happens.

Carol Tyler:
Because I didn’t have any counseling or help, like today, a counselor would try to get me placed in a school with art. The cultures back then, it didn’t work like that, there was no school counselor. You were kind of on your own, although I just said I was down at the counselor’s office with bad, painful mouth, but truly, I don’t know. I didn’t get the right kind of thing and there was no money and there was none of this, “you can do it with scholarships.” I had absolutely zero confidence in myself. I didn’t do well on that.

Carol Tyler:
… zero confidence in myself. I didn’t do well on the SAT scores. I had problems with reading comprehension. I could do math. I was good at art, but when they would give you those, read this paragraph, now answer the questions about what just happened in the paragraph, just seeing that gray box of text frightened me, so I always did poorly on these tests. [crosstalk 00:33:29]

Alex Grand:
You mean if there’s an essay that you had to read, and then answer multiple choice, the essay part was… was the part you’re talking about?

Carol Tyler:
I would just go [inaudible 00:00:39]. If I walked outside and saw that water was coming off the building funny, and I’d have to figure out a way to drain it from… In other words, my engineering skills were through the roof. I could figure anything out. I could modify things. I invented things. I could see things in my mind, but the matrix spec, then the thing was you have to do this, and you have to do that. Then we’re going to label you. Perfect example was when I was in kindergarten, I could see music in my head. I could hear it, and I would make up songs. So, let’s see if she could learn to play the piano, send me over to sister so and so. She sat me down in front of the keyboard and she said, “This is middle C. All right. I just showed you where is the middle C, now find the middle C. Find middle C.” And I could hear her saying that, and to me that was music.

Carol Tyler:
And then it was like she wants me to hit a key. I don’t know what she’s talking about. So now I’m turning around, told my mother that I had no musical ability whatsoever, but yet I had just composed a song based on her yapping at me. And to this day I have that happen where I’ll wake up, and I’ll have a complete song, or something in my head, but I can do that, but I’ve been taking this little app trying to learn how to play the piano by reading notes again. And I can’t do it. I cannot read notes, but I can compose music as much as I could. That’s why I like it out at my farm house. I have to figure everything out, how to fix things, I’ve taught myself electric, of course plumbing is easy.

Jim Thompson:
Your first school when at college now, was that Tennessee Tech? Was that the first one?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah.

Jim Thompson:
Okay. You went there and then… We’ll talk about the Tommy’s, all the Tommy’s that went there. But didn’t stay there, and was it there, or at the next that you met your first husband?

Carol Tyler:
No, it was a Tech.

Jim Thompson:
It was at Tech? And he was like a big man on campus.

Carol Tyler:
He was the ugliest man on campus. It was called ugly man contest. And the fraternities had this ugly man thing. There was hardly any women at this college cause it was a technical college. Now I was not there for engineering. I knew I was going to go for a couple of years, and then transfer ultimately. And I just did it cause it was… I could commute. My grandma died. And so I used the money to get a car, and I commuted to the school that was cheaper. I didn’t pass any of the tests, I didn’t get any scholarships, so I ended up paying full fare at Tech until we established my residency right away. Drove to the campus. I just took the classes, and right away one of the art teachers said, “What are you doing here? You’re really, really good. You should not be at a technical school.” And I said, “Really?” She said, “You’re really good. Why don’t you try The UT?” So I did. And just before I went to UT that’s when I met Alex, my first husband, Bob.

Jim Thompson:
And that was around 1970 or so?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah.

Jim Thompson:
And you guys got married, you did what your father said, you went to school, and you got married.

Carol Tyler:
I got a husband. [inaudible 00:37:28]

Jim Thompson:
And you guys were together for about five, five and half years?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah. Five, six years. We were together through songs in the key of life. We started out with maybe Derek and the Dominos. You know what I’m saying? I can run through the art albums of my marriage. He loved The Moody Blues, I hated The Moody Blues. [inaudible 00:37:52] Never again.

Jim Thompson:
And he was, he was a water quality control engineer, and…

Carol Tyler:
And a stoner dealer.

Jim Thompson:
And were you doing any art at all during this five years?

Carol Tyler:
Yes. We would get ripped on hash, or what’s that stuff called hash oil. We would get ripped. And I have pictures of me somewhere. I would lay these pages down on… I started doing comics. They were wordless, just a few words, a few characters, and they were completely nonsense, but everybody would go, “Wow, that is so weird. That is so weird” I was just painting strange… I liked album art. I liked Yes, and stuff like that, looking at that kind of stuff. So I did some trippy shit. But then we moved to Nashville.

Alex Grand:
Is this influence by Underground comix at the time, because you…

Carol Tyler:
I’d see him, we’d see them because all the Stoners… Actually back when I first went to college, and back in the early Stoner days, they were around, people would have these stuff. And I remember looking at… There was a summer that I moved back up to Chicago area, back up to Fox Lake, the summer of 70. I got back with my high school sweetheart. He had a hippie van, and all we did was get stoned, rock the van, and go to concerts while I worked at the sausage store.

Alex Grand:
[crosstalk 00:40:00] I’m imagining The Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo, and it’s like Daphne and Fred and the van, is that kind of what’s going on?

Carol Tyler:
Scooby-Doo was there after my time. I didn’t see it.

Alex Grand:
Well, that came out in like, I think it [crosstalk 00:40:12].

Carol Tyler:
Bread truck, it was a bread truck.

Alex Grand:
It was a bread truck.

Carol Tyler:
The last place I left off with television was… What was that show? I was just thinking of it the other day. Well, there was the good time hour with the Sonny and Cher. When I went off to this college, I did not watch any television. So it abruptly ended in like mid 1969 ish. And it was Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Okay, and then no TV. I missed most of 69, all of the 70s TV. I missed it all.

Alex Grand:
I think that’s fine. Watergate is overrated anyway. Totally.

Carol Tyler:
It was too hard for me to get to a TV set. It was the thing to do. Anyway, when I was with this guy, it was literally about the Stone scene, and we would go to rock concerts, and people there were reading comics, and stuff like that. I saw all that stuff, but just like I told you a little bit ago, I didn’t spend time figuring out who did what, except for one artist. I like Robert Armstrong’s Mickey Rat. Cause it was a perry. Liked Mickey Rat. But all of that stuff… I remember seeing Crumb Stuff. It didn’t log in so much, it didn’t get into the sex fantasies so much. It’s just the stoner… Again it was like all those guys are really cool. [inaudible 00:41:53] the cool stuff that those guys draw.

Alex Grand:
You were looking at Underground comix though at the time?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah, drawn by the cool guys.

Alex Grand:
Zap and all that, you were checking that out?

Carol Tyler:
They’re all just one monolithic those guys.

Jim Thompson:
Nice. That’s cool. So when did you read Binky Brown for the first time? Was it when it came out? [crosstalk 00:42:16]

Carol Tyler:
Not till a long time later? That was 1981. So my first foray into Underground was as a Stoner, hanging out with hippies. It was just more for the masses to consume. I’ll tell you what I really liked. There was a thing called the Whole Earth Catalog. You could sit there, and read that. And then across the bottom, there was a story that was going across every page, across the bottom. And I used to love that. We still love to read that. But my drawing was… I worked at the Lake County Planning Commission. So my skills were used on a drafting board, creating zoning case files for people that wanted to do zoning changes in the county. So I’d have to go through the maps, and prepare plats, and do overlays. And I learned all about the graphic materials that I use today, inking and everything, Leroy lettering set and all that, working at the Lake County Planning Commission. And I was their zoning case file prepare. And that was from 72 to like 74.

Carol Tyler:
It all went to blue because I was married, but there was a guy who worked there… I could not describe, but I had feelings for. Now I realized that we were like hot for each other, but he was married too. And so going to work changed from making a nice line, perfect, press on lettering, to he’s over there, oh my god! I had like a nervous breakdown, and had to leave work because I didn’t know what was going on in my head. It turned out I was miserable. I was miserably married, and I didn’t want to admit I liked this guy. And it didn’t matter because my husband was cheating on me all the time anyway.

Jim Thompson:
That part I had read. When you left, left that marriage, is that when you went to middle Tennessee state, or was that…

Carol Tyler:
Well, we moved to Nashville.

Jim Thompson:
You moved to Nashville?

Carol Tyler:
“Let’s move to Nashville.”He got a job with the state of Tennessee, and closer to his family, and my family had a house in Tennessee. It was a three-bedroom house that we got. One bedroom was ours, one bedroom was his, the middle bedroom was mine to do whatever I like. So I piled it up with my art supplies and I would walk in there and say, shut the door. I didn’t know what to do because I hadn’t met myself. So when I started to go back to school while I was in Nashville, commuting down to MTSU, I met people down there who were fully committed to doing art work. And I thought, “That’s who I am.” So no wonder I can’t be married and going into the room, and doing some art coming out, making like a beef roast. It didn’t add up for him and his fucking Stoner friends. So I though I had this idea that like I got to going to leave him, and the Songs in the Key of Life came out. It was to the backdrop of that, that I left.

Carol Tyler:
In MTSU I found like my, I found something called a personal vision of what it is I wanted to do. Like when you’re stoned, you’re going to make bullshit Stoner art, right. Or when you’re doing this or that, and school going to do a poster, or do what the assignment is or whatever. But here I was in school, and the way forward was express yourself, do what you like. That’s where it all started. That’s where I started to be an artist in 75.

Jim Thompson:
So tell us about… because I love this story about how you decided to leave the South, and how it connects with your brother, and the Olympics, and all of that.

Carol Tyler:
Okay. So I was at MTSU, and I had a great three years there. I learned a lot from the people there. I had made great friends, and I was one of the guiding stars.

Jim Thompson:
Cool.

Carol Tyler:
So also people who didn’t do what the professor said, we did what we wanted. So we invented a bunch of shit, and we all ended up turning out to be pretty great artists. Anyway, I got out of school. I decided to do the census. I did that, I made a bunch of money. I was going to go out to Mexico, and do the census. Remember I am a registered census taker from the 1990 census. It occurred to me that I have to wait 70 years from 1980 till I can look at my own work, but I made a bunch of money. It was amazing. Great census taker. I was cool by then. And then I decided to go live in Knoxville. Guess where I lived? I lived in a house owned by Johnny Knoxville’s mother.

Carol Tyler:
I didn’t know that until years later. And then John Lennon got shot while I was in Knoxville, and I went, “What am I doing in Knoxville?” I wanted to grieve. I was so enraged. I tried to make art. I had no money. I turned in my cans of beans so I could buy red, yellow, blue, and black and white, and I took cardboard, and I made pictures about it, and I got into graduate school, and that’s how I got the fuck out of Tennessee. There was also the 1980 Olympics. Both of my brothers were in the broad’s way team, my brother made USA’s lead one, Jimmy came in third, he lost by an eyelash hair. It was terrible. It was very excruciating for him, but he made the 84 team.

Carol Tyler:
And so it was like wait a minute, I could go to the Olympics, and I could stay at his house, and I could live up there, and work there, and I did. I think now I know, put your hat on right Tyler. The Olympics came in the winter, and it was after the Olympics that I went back to Tennessee. And that’s when I did the census. And then from there I flipped over Knoxville, and that’s when John Lennon got shot. And that’s when I said, I’m going back to graduate school.

Carol Tyler:
So you see these events, these things, really propelled me because it’s like what are you going to do? You’re going to stay with this guy, or is this guy going to move to New York? Is he coming with you? You’re going to do this? You’re going to follow a guy along your whole life? What are you doing? I always wanted to do my own thing. Find a way, follow something. And I just, the idea that I could go work at the Olympic games was incredible. I got the job being a… First they hired me as a children’s art coordinator, but then I had my eye on the prize, which was to hang the show. The thing about the Olympics in 1980, it was the first year that they brought sport and art together for what was called the whole man, and they use DaVinci’s arts and sport.

Carol Tyler:
So they had a complete art exhibit. They had a fine arts center up there. And I noticed that they were going to have paintings by some of my favorite artists. And I thought, you mean I get to hold in my hands a Susan Rothenberg. You mean I can hold an Eric Fischl? You mean I can hold it done nice in my hands, and help hang that show? So I got that children’s art thing done in a snap, and right away focused my attention on working at that fine art center. And yes, I got to look at up close and personal all the paintings and all the artwork, and everything that I ever loved of my art stars. That got done and they said, “We need somebody to coordinate the closing ceremonies.” Now look, I saw everything. I saw Eric Heiden, winning seven gold medals. I saw this, I saw that because it was small, and I was hitchhiking up there because it was a small town. It was loaded with snow. Nobody could get around, but I could get around. I lived up there.

Carol Tyler:
Well, they needed somebody to do the closing ceremonies. Okay, I’ll do that. What does that mean, I get to meet Chuck Mangione? I met every athlete in the whole wide world, and guess what? One of my brother shows up, “Here’s two tickets for this hockey game.” “Hockey game? I can’t go to a hockey game. I got work to do. I got to take the Yugoslavian ski jump team, they got to be at practice.” All right, I’ll drag my ass over to this freaking hockey game. So I’m sitting there, and it’s the game where U.S. Beat the Russian team.

Jim Thompson:
Most amazing hockey game in the history.

Carol Tyler:
I know.

Jim Thompson:
Absolutely. Let’s get you to California. I mean, you start doing some trips. Your boyfriend from the South comes up.

Carol Tyler:
I need to tell you, it was during this time before I moved to California, this is a very important time because I was doing artwork all along. I’m a reviewing up at the Olympics, doing … They had a little fanzy, and I was doing artwork for that. And then I started doing kind of like adding the words, and making sure that everything I said, all the narration was added to the panels. So even though I loved fine art, I was really starting to add the graphic element, and stuff I had learned as a zoning case prepare. I was putting that into my paintings. My paintings were very narrative. I was telling stories. I was doing standup comedy. I was doing all that stuff before I ended up getting through with graduate school. In graduate school I was doing minimalist new image type paintings with language, with words.

Jim Thompson:
I saw a reference to that. You were doing narratives, even in single panels during your art and things. I was just curious about… Your boyfriend comes up, and he goes to school of visual arts. He’s not at Syracuse, and he…

Carol Tyler:
No, he didn’t enroll in school. He crashed [crosstalk 00:53:47]

Jim Thompson:
That’s right. He was taking classes. And he made connections such that that allowed the two of you to go on summer trips out. You got the addresses for people like Griffith and Justin Green.

Carol Tyler:
All the SF people, yeah. Because there was that one summer that I said, I’ll be damned if I’m going to stay down here in the lower East side with you, we’ll end up murdering each other, so I’m going out to be with my roommate from Tennessee, she’s living in a house full of women in San Francisco. I’m going out there. And while I’m out there, I’m going to look up all these people.

Jim Thompson:
And that sorted such a course for your life at that point, because you make these connections that are going to follow through to your next stage that we’re going to get to in a minute which is doing actual comics for Weirdo and stuff. But you meet Justin Green at that point, and there’s some confusion between your relationship with him, and your relationship with your boyfriend at the time.

Carol Tyler:
When I went out there, I was there to see what my friend Marion do. I was going to go see all these people. And I met them all. I’d call up one, ” [inaudible 00:55:04] My name is [inaudible 00:55:07] I’m from [inaudible 00:55:07] I love Zipi.” And they would be like, “Great. Okay, bye.” I’d call Spain. I’d call different ones thinking fan girl all the way. I called up Justin, he said, “How about lunch?” He was on the, there’s a girl coming in here, let’s see what this is about. So I met him at a sign job. We had sandwiches. We went for a sandwich. He was working at a Tommy’s Joynt, and he was different. He was interested in me personally, not just like, hey fan girl, good for you.

Jim Thompson:
And at that point you had read his book?

Carol Tyler:
Oh yeah.

Jim Thompson:
That’s a gigantic influence in the kind of comics that you were going to tell, correct?

Carol Tyler:
Well, because I thought, wait a minute, this guy is from Chicago. I’m from Chicago. He look he’s Catholic. I was Catholic. So I got all the jokes. And I got all the letters, a lot of inside Chicago stuff, unless you’re from that area, you probably wouldn’t get [inaudible 00:56:18] on the one EchoSign. There was just some things about Midwest life that just went like, I get this, I got this. So when I got out there, that’s what we talked about. And of course he was on his best polish and being swell. And I was of course googly-eyed, and amazed that I actually got to meet the guy who wrote Binky Brown. And he was very much presenting himself like the suburban boy that he depicts in the book. And I never could think… I thought he’s probably not as fucked up as that character he did.

Jim Thompson:
But you were wrong?

Carol Tyler:
He can’t be that fucked up.

Jim Thompson:
And there we go. And then you guys have a daughter together in 1985.

Carol Tyler:
No, that’s not where we go. I had to go back to…

Jim Thompson:
No, I know you go back, and you don’t know where…

Carol Tyler:
…and be with this other guy, and forget Justin, and be with this other guy until Justin shows up, and there’s a big fight. And then I ended up in San Francisco with Justin. And, there’s a lot in between there. There’s a lot of me helping this other guy. I helped this other guy launch his career, but you never hear about that.

Jim Thompson:
Yes, that was very frustrating to you once you had your baby, right. That’s the outrage story. Let’s talk about that.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. What was that story? What was that guy? Roy or something? Yeah, I read about that. Did you have that in the story.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah. So we’ll talk about that story because that’s a great one. So Alex let’s get to Weirdo.

Alex Grand:
All right. So then you started doing stories for Weirdo published by Last Gasp. And for our listeners, just a quick review, Weirdo was a humor comics magazine started by Robert Crumb that ran for about 27 issues from 81 to 90 plus a final issue a few years later. Before talking about your own experiences and work there, what would you say about just Weirdo in general, were you familiar with it before contributing to it?

Carol Tyler:
No, I just knew that after the underground scene that there were these anthologies, and I became familiar with arcade. And then when I lived in New York city, there were a couple of times I’d go to Art Spiegelman’s place with Francoise, and we would hang up raw posters and stuff like that. So I did my time in the trenches with helping RA and I was aware of Miles and the struggles that he would discuss. Art would talk about things that were issues for him. And it was nice to have that. And then you’d go to a Jean Michel opening.

Carol Tyler:
It was the scene in New York, but when I got to… It was through that network of that, that I became aware of who was doing what in comics. And then when I got out to San Francisco, Justin was not interested in that scene at all. He was doing childcare because he had a kid and signs. And so it was on me to seek out things. So I did a letter to the house, it would say burrito party, come on down. Ron Turner would have a burrito party every year, his famous burrito parties. And so I’d say, Justin, we got an invitation to go. He said, I’m not going to that. because Justin has no interest in social anything.

Carol Tyler:
Can I go? Yeah, you could go. Why not? So I go, I started making the scene, and when you make the scene, that’s when you meet this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and that’s how I met this one, and this one, and this one did that. And then it was like you want to see some comics [inaudible 00:27:38].

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Okay, cool. You brought art with you.

Carol Tyler:
I’d sell my portfolio. I think we had an open house when I first moved out to San Francisco. Everybody came over, I have a drawing table set up. Justin had his set up. I wish somebody had taken videos of that, but that turned into a disaster because an old girlfriend of Justin’s was there, and he had unfinished business. And so they were yakking it up over that way.

Carol Tyler:
I was mad by my drawing table, but I was sitting there with Bill Griffith, Spain, and I was like a perfect array of people I wish I could talk to get around a table today. So they were like don’t worry about him. He’s just being Justin. It’d be like [inaudible 01:01:37] I didn’t know the guy. I just knew some stuff from his comics. And so it’s kind of like the way it’s been with us. I do my thing. He does his thing. He did signs, he had a kid, and soon I was expecting, and we had a kid, and pretty much he lives in his room, and I live in my room artistically completely because he was set. And I said to him, “I’m meeting you late in your life.” At that time he’s 37, 38. I can’t expect you to change because of me. And I’m who I am, and I’ve been around looking for my art, and trying to do my thing. I kept my maiden name. I don’t want to be Mrs. Green. I just want to be who I am, and tell my story.

Alex Grand:
Do your own thing. Yeah.

Carol Tyler:
It’s been the way it’s been. We don’t get together. We don’t say like hey, come over here, and look at this panel. What should I do? Nope. Although I have often coughed up a punchline when he was doing the sign game. Yeah, they would go [inaudible 01:03:05] Come on, tell me the script. Well, the guy comes in and say… I’d think about it for a while then I go, here’s what you need to say, then deliver. So I should have been a gag writer because I always can come up with that gag, or at least that thing that pulls it together at the end.

Alex Grand:
Right. the punchline

Carol Tyler:
It’s like Busch Miller. I’m not comparing myself to Busch Miller, but I liked the way he would tighten it up, or he would wrap it up.

Alex Grand:
Make it clean. Yeah. Clean exit. When you were contributing to Weirdo then, and you kind of met people at the party, you started in contributing your stuff, then it sounds like they liked what you were showing in your portfolio, so you contributed some stuff, and when it was under Aline Kominsky-Crumb, your stuff was then… You submitted your stuff over to Weirdo. Is that right?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah. And I think I had the feeling that there weren’t a whole lot of people submitting.

Alex Grand:
So that was kind of a nice… There was actually an opening probably for some material.

Carol Tyler:
We have an opening for a girl just like you. Yes. People were submitting. There just wasn’t dull time. You got to remember the 60s, and then there was the hippie time, and then Gerald Ford came in, everything dropped like a thud, disco was going on. People were doing cocaine. And so that just kind of pulled the rug out on a lot of stuff.

Alex Grand:
And creatively people were too coked out to create.

Carol Tyler:
Oh, there was a lot of coke. And comic books were weird. They were printed on glossy stock, and they were overproduced, and I just hated that. That was the furthest thing from my mind, was anything comic book like that. And art had come out of this abstraction period, and it was starting to come back into figuration. And so things were really getting different, and Michael Jackson was back.

Alex Grand:
Right. Okay. That’s great that he’s factored into this somehow. I like that. Your first issue of Weirdo was Weirdo 18. And that was the first one that Aline Kominsky-Crumb edited, that was in fall of 1986. Yet some of your pieces show up in 20 to 25 and 27 to 28, so what was it like to be a painter working with colorful things, and now to then distill it into a black and white kind of story delivery? Did you have to change how you’re expressing it, and fit it into a black and white framework, or was that easy for you? Cause you were already into strips that were black and white?

Carol Tyler:
I had to learn all over again because.

Carol Tyler:
I had to learn all over again, because-

Alex Grand:
Okay, there you go.

Carol Tyler:
… for me, color has always been a vehicle for emotion.

Alex Grand:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Right, exactly.

Carol Tyler:
And I had a sense of … They had assignments. So now, it’s like all that’s stripped away, and now you’ve just got to draw it. I had to really find my way back into drawing, and I noticed, when things got printed that, “Oh, there you are Tyler, trying to make paint strokes. It doesn’t work, graphically.” If you’re going to be graphic, you got to go graphic. You can’t halfway be in color, with your mark making. So that meant getting very rigid, kind of like, less expressive.

Alex Grand:
Right.

Carol Tyler:
I kept, figure out a way to be expressive, and then it started shaping the panels, and it started doing this and that. I’m sure you’ve seen how my work has evolved. Because once drum scanners were invented, then the technology allowed … These comic book publishers doing independent stuff, they could afford to do color, because it became low cost, whereas before, cost was prohibitive, so we had to do everything in black and white. The only thing color was the cover.

Carol Tyler:
I was never given any … maybe one or two, cover jobs. They always went to … Well, Robert had all the weirdo covers, but over the years, I never got any covers. Then I just assumed that meant I wasn’t strong enough, but that’s also during the time when I was known as Anne Moore.

Jim Thompson:
You did do that Wimmin’s Comix, the final cover on issue-

Carol Tyler:
Didn’t Ends. Yeah. I was given the honor of that and I loved that. I wanted to do more, but it just didn’t pull out that way, and I had a kid, and I had to have work. She had asthma, I had to have health insurance.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah. Domestic demands are serious. Now your first story in issue 18, 4 Red Brides, did you have a sense of what you wanted to bring to Weirdo? Oh, do you feel like you were still kind of a work in progress at this point? Or do you feel like-

Carol Tyler:
Yes. Absolutely. Because even though I could tell a great story, I could tell a good story, like, standup comedian style too. I always kept … I had crowds that would listen to me tell my stories. It was amazing. And then I did performing and stuff like that. So now I got to do it in the comics form, and what I did with 4 Red Brides, I just kind, half baked idea. I don’t know.

Carol Tyler:
And again, technically it didn’t work, cause I was still kind of trying to bridge the gap between, am I going to do it graphically? I never really wanted to give over to that.

Carol Tyler:
What’s matter, looking for a hair tie. I never fully wanted to give over to that. I didn’t want to give up the painterly marks. I really liked a brush.

Carol Tyler:
I didn’t like the rigidity. I don’t like doing perspective. There were a whole bunch of things like that, that I’d see Justin over there working and he’d be like, “Oh, it’s so dry and harsh.” You know, maybe he can pull that off. I was so glad when the color did come, because then I could start with a-

Alex Grand:
Be more.

Carol Tyler:
… solution, yeah, then.

Alex Grand:
Express more, be more yourself.

Carol Tyler:
[inaudible 01:09:57] show wind! How do you show wind? It’s hard to show wind with black pen marks? Oh yeah, you can go like that, but I wanted to show, you know, a certain thing and then I had to … I’m still figuring this out. I’m still trying to draw everything. As I’m getting older and work, the stuff I’m working on now, it’s like the book I’m working on now, this is after Soldier’s Heart. Guess what? All black and white, I’ve gone back to black and white, and now it’s like “How can you do this? You never learned that lesson. So now you’re going to ace it, or you can get out of here.”

Alex Grand:
So it’s almost a challenge also, but it’s interesting. It’s just kind of what you’re in the mood to do, also. So then Uncovered Property in 1987, I thought it was a fun story. And it kind of goes to what you were saying earlier, about in your family girls being treated different than boys, bit of a double standard, and the shirt being off, and how that’s different between the siblings, and that you had this Marilyn Monroe reference in the story. So at this point, were you thinking, “I want to make … I like autobiographical”? Were you basically thinking, “Autobiography is kind of what I want to be doing, comic-wise”?

Carol Tyler:
It was never a conscious decision. I just knew I could never do that superhero thing.

Alex Grand:
Right.

Carol Tyler:
Because I just saw my family as characters. I’ll always … Maybe it’s because as you know, the child that was told to shut up and I spent a lot of time under tables, just watching people, or you know how it is for the little one, sit down and shut up. I just always observed and couldn’t get a word in edgewise, so I’d listen. And it seemed interesting enough to me.

Alex Grand:
So in a way it was almost like a lot of the responses or observations you made finally were able to find a voice, because back then, as they were happening in real time, you were probably, what? Kind of repressing a lot of that. Would you say that?

Carol Tyler:
You mean like when I was growing up?

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Carol Tyler:
I was just watching the adults. I was just tuned in. Those shows would come on TV, and it’s like, “What’s the difference between The Honeymooners and my parents?” None. There’s no difference. Look at them. I’d sit back and just watch. My mom would be at the sink, and my dad would want something. She’d get it out of the refrigerator, and my sister would kick my brother. So it’s like, “This is a TV show.”

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Interesting also, because you’re a professor and you do talks and things, but there was one story, 1987 Pork Chops. There’s like high art gallery people, and how they can build almost like a fake fame. And there’s comedy around that. So it sounds like you still have this, almost like down to earth approach as you observe people. Even if they’re in this kind of high art status, you still can almost somewhat reduce them to a comic absurdity, right?

Carol Tyler:
Well, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Help me figure this out. Because when you observe people … Like, the other day I was in the car with Justin and he said, “Oh, look at that guy up there. Thing I like about it is you can really … If you’re parked here,” it was a Kroger, “… you can really see because of the high sidewalk. You can really see these characters walking. I need to come back with my sketchbook.” And I said, “I would never come back here with my sketchbook. I don’t need to do that. All I need to do is tune into what I know. It’s in my head.”

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Yeah. That’s cool.

Carol Tyler:
I don’t need to sketch at Kroger. There’s nothing walking by that I can’t … I’m not saying I’m above that, and I do need information. Yeah. I mean, if I just drew a panel about my brothers throwing chairs into a dumpster, it was like, how many times have you seen a dumpster? You know what they look like. But I had to look, and then it was like, I couldn’t find the one that was in my mind’s eye.

Alex Grand:
Oh, interesting. Yeah. So sometimes there is still a need for reference somewhere.

Carol Tyler:
So everything I saw, I didn’t like, so I ended up drawing what I had in my head mental, and it looked right. The only thing … There’s just a few little references, like when you’re in a dumpster, I always liked to climb in them, which means that there are stairs. There’s rungs, and then to get on that first rung, you got to put your …

Carol Tyler:
So that tells me the scale. I don’t need to see a picture of a guy doing that. I just imagine going to look inside of one, and then, “Oh, okay. So if I had to go like that,” and you can’t look into a dumpster from standing, you got to get up on the rungs to look over, so it’s over my head. So they’re this tall.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, there’s a couple Weirdos pieces that you had that I thought were very endearing. They’re in two different issues, but they were kind of the same theme. In issue 21, took place in 1958, and you’re 7 and Auntie Mary smacks you, and your scrawny body coming out of a wetsuit. And then in Weirdo 24, you’re thirty-seven, and she points out the scrawny body again, you wrote like, “Some things never change.” It was like those little moments in time, kind of sentimental moments that are endearing that you’re able to put out there. You know, when those moments happen, do you then think, “I want to put that down on paper?” or is it more like, you think of it later and then decide to express it?

Carol Tyler:
I don’t live life for content. What I did last time, or what I did when I started out is changed so much. I’ve been at this 40 years, you know? So when I think back on Auntie Mary, it’s just ancient ago, and why I did it the first time was because it seemed like I needed to correct an injustice. And then a miracle, or a strange turn of events I was back at her pool. I never thought I’d be back at my aunt’s pool. And yet there we were, and she did the same exact thing. It was shocking to me that nothing changed. Nothing changed her behavior, in all those years of that.

Carol Tyler:
So when I think about now, like what I’m doing now, I have no axe to grind. I have no agenda, but I have something I’m trying to say. Right? And it is based on what has happened, or what I’ve experienced, but you know I’m sick and tired of talking about me. I’m sick of being the central character, and I want to pass the football. I want to get out of it. And that’s part of what I wrestle with, and part of what I communicate in my next work is getting away from the self as subject matter.

Carol Tyler:
I [crosstalk 01:17:59] want to be the star of the show. I just want to tell the stories that I happened to be in. Because, I mean, then it’s like, well then why don’t you make up characters? And it’s like, I don’t want to do that, because I’ve already figured out or draw my head, and my hair and stuff. It’s easy. It’s kind of like a way in, and I don’t think I make them about me. I think they’re just about … I hope they’re just about life, or people connect something about-

Alex Grand:
Right, There you go, yeah.

Carol Tyler:
… what they-

Alex Grand:
The connection with people. Yeah.

Carol Tyler:
Yeah. And I’ve been really trying to backpedal out, and get more into other stories, but I’m also very concerned.

Carol Tyler:
It’s hard to love other people’s families, you know? “Oh my great aunt So-and-So,” and the minute people start talking, you go …

Alex Grand:
You lose interest. Huh?

Carol Tyler:
I don’t your aunt, or your grandmother, or something like that. I mean, I-

Alex Grand:
But if they were born with like, a very large birth defect, that’s more interesting. Right?

Carol Tyler:
That’s terrible. No, it’s just, how do you get it away from being like you’re precious … Only, you know, some people who … You know, it can’t be just, you’re doing this because of a family treasure component. There has to be something to it. And I can’t make it be about, “Oh, this is me and my family.” It has to be about, “Do you get this about humanity?”

Alex Grand:
Right.

Carol Tyler:
Have you had this feeling?

Alex Grand:
That makes sense. This vibe?

Carol Tyler:
The human exchange. Yeah. So there was one, Weirdo 22 took place in 1967. I think you were 16 at this point, and Grandma had a stroke trying to elope. Is that right? Did that really happen?

Carol Tyler:
That wasn’t mine.

Alex Grand:
That wasn’t yours? Return of Mrs. Kite? No? Did I read that wrong?

Carol Tyler:
Oh, yeah. Yeah, no. Yes!

Jim Thompson:
That definitely is.

Carol Tyler:
Oh yeah!

Alex Grand:
That was yours, right?

Carol Tyler:
The Return if Mrs. Kite.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Yeah.

Carol Tyler:
Grandma.

Alex Grand:
Okay, good.

Carol Tyler:
Had a stroke!

Alex Grand:
I’m glad because I was going to commit myself to a hospital if I got that wrong. Yeah.

Carol Tyler:
Don’t worry, I’ll rescue you. Yes. The Return Mrs. Kite!

Alex Grand:
Yes, yes.

Carol Tyler:
Yeah. That was my Grandma Stella and that was a-

Alex Grand:
Okay, so that happened?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah. True story.

Alex Grand:
True story.

Carol Tyler:
I think, the other thing is my parents were story … My dad and mom were both storytellers. My dad would sit down. I think he’d sit around the table, and they’d be getting drunker, and he’d be sitting there and the next thing, he’d be slamming the table, the jokes, and they’d be laughing about “Oh Chuck, you’re a son of a bitch!” Just, that they would encounter life and then talk about it, and I’d hear that.

Carol Tyler:
So I heard that story about him shoveling her driveway, and then she stepped across, I heard that. And this shiny sleeves thing, my mom told me there. She had the shiny sleeves, cause she’d use it to rub her nose. It’s so gross. But it’s just like, my mom remembered that funny, odd thing, that grandma had shiny sleeves. Just things about them. So it’s just putting that together. And it was my 16th birthday, she had that stroke and then died. It was like … I intended for that to be a long saga. I was going to continue that. In fact, I drew the second part of it, takes it up the next day in the high school and all this stuff. But it just, it never … It didn’t get finished.

Alex Grand:
Okay. I got you.

Carol Tyler:
Kids, you know?

Alex Grand:
Right.

Carol Tyler:
Needing job.

Alex Grand:
Right, and-

Carol Tyler:
You know, they’re talking about “Oh. Want to do a story for Weirdo?” I’m going to get, what $35 a page? Well, I’m going to work my ass off and I’ll end up with $200 at the end of this. That’ll just about cover what?

Alex Grand:
Well yeah, cause that kind of goes into the Anatomy of a New Mom in 1988, and you’d show varicose veins, unshaved legs, bigger thighs, plugged milk ducks, everything’s painful. Just brutally, brutally honest adjustments to the new state.

Carol Tyler:
Do you have this in your family? You got kids?

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Uh-huh (affirmative). I wouldn’t say that I have it, all those things, but yeah. I mean, I know there’s definitely a change. Yeah. Yeah.

Carol Tyler:
But that’s going on?

Alex Grand:
There are things going on for sure. Yeah. Above and below.

Carol Tyler:
[inaudible 01:22:43] did this, and then later I did the outrage of that same time, we were still being sold the idea that motherhood was so beautiful and perfect, and there was no downsides. And you know, you had to do a natural childbirth and it was going to be wonderful, and we were going to be better than our mothers. We’re not going to use forceps, and all this kind of stuff. You know, this was the epic epitome of womanhood, and all this.

Carol Tyler:
For me, it was like, “This hurts!” It was terrible! And I had such a long labor, and it was … I was also by myself, isolated. I had no help. It was just me and Justin, who was gone on sign jobs a lot. So I was an isolated mom, and it was awful. I’ve talked it over with my kid. She knows. You don’t have a kid with an unavailable mate, or solo with no resources, without having that take on it.

Alex Grand:
Right. Of course. Yeah. It’s a very real, very, it’s almost-

Carol Tyler:
And there was no label-

Alex Grand:
… there’s a disappointment.

Carol Tyler:
… no name for postpartum. I had postpartum psychosis. There was no name for that.

Alex Grand:
Right. Yeah.

Carol Tyler:
You know what I mean?

Alex Grand:
It wasn’t as defined. Yeah.

Carol Tyler:
That wasn’t a thing. You were just had to pull it together. So when I drew that, that was like exactly what … This is what I went through. Cause when I had my baby, in the maternity room there, there was a picture of a woman in soft focus, and she had her infant and she was laying and it was perfect. Just like Mother, and I was like “Get that thing off of me! Get her away!” I couldn’t stand it. I didn’t want it.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, yeah. [crosstalk 01:24:48] And that Anatomy of a New Mom was a very, very focused image. There was no soft focus on any of that.

Carol Tyler:
Yes, I had a baby, but look what it did to me! There was no talking about that. Nowadays they do. There’s hope for women. I did my part. I tried to bring people to the awareness that it’s no cakewalk.

Alex Grand:
Right. Now, still talking about Weirdo. Tell us about Lisa Lee. It was like a secret identity of like, critiquing or commenting on submissions and writing. Who was Lisa Lee? Who was this character?

Carol Tyler:
Aline said “Carol, help me! I’ve got so many people sending in stuff, and I don’t have time to read all this. Could you do this?” I said “I’ll do it, but I can’t do it as myself. I’ll do it as fake character.” So I became the Weirdo offices, which don’t exist, the office slut. And I was going to tell these stories. I was going to review all the stuff, but mostly all I did was talk about the working conditions-

Alex Grand:
Yeah. I got you.

Carol Tyler:
… at the Weird. It was all fake.

Alex Grand:
I liked the head swagger, as you said office slut. You have a good way of expressing these ideas. Very well-animated.

Carol Tyler:
I had this idea. She was going to make money on a … She had a money-making scheme to get her out of this hell that she was in.

Alex Grand:
Right.

Carol Tyler:
I don’t even remember it, but it was just, you know, something. And then I, at the bottom, name a few people. People who’d sent work in. And so the main thing is I turned it all about Lisa Lee and her complaints. And then it was easier for me to do, because it was like “Holy God, I’m supposed to read through all?” I couldn’t. Like more than Aline could, cause I also had stories due. I had a little kid, and I’d have to get a story due by her deadline, and then working through all the stuff is like “Nah, just do it that way.”

Alex Grand:
Right. That’s that’s good.

Carol Tyler:
Yeah. Nobody seemed to care about it. I mean, I never heard a word about Lisa Lee. It didn’t take off.

Alex Grand:
And was this in any … The alliteration? Was that in any way linked to Lois Lane at all?

Carol Tyler:
Yes! You caught it! Very few people did.

Jim Thompson:
Well. It was me.

Alex Grand:
Well, yeah. I mean, Jim and I discussed this beforehand yes.

Carol Tyler:
Lois Lane and Lana Lang, right?

Alex Grand:
Lana Lang. So it was about that. Even though you weren’t really Superman or … You still had these [crosstalk 00:21:35]?

Carol Tyler:
It was our household. It was in the house.

Alex Grand:
It was in the house. So you knew the name?

Carol Tyler:
My sister and brother, when we were little, they were always … You remember the fifties, there was always some secret decoding thing going on, or there’s always stuff they were throwing at us in pop culture. One of them was L.L.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. There’s a lot of L.L. In pop culture.

Carol Tyler:
So …

Alex Grand:
So, now in 1988 you were awarded the inaugural Dori Seda Memorial Award for Best New Female Cartoonist from Last Gasp.

Carol Tyler:
Yes!

Alex Grand:
So did you feel like “I’ve made it. I’ve become recognized. This is a validation of what I’m doing.” Tell us about that experience.

Carol Tyler:
It was gut wrenching. I’d had a couple … I was in the right place at the right time. I just showed up in San Francisco, and I was painfully aware of the fact that people were there for years, and yet I was getting stuff published, and people liked it. People were writing into Weirdo saying they liked it, and I felt like, “Ooh, did I earn this?” You know? And then I was in some Wimmen’s stuff, and Wimmen’s had been around a long time and I here I was showing up. And then I got a cover, and I felt bad about all that because I’m from a working class family. You start out as an apprentice, and then you’re a journeyman, and then you’re a master, and here I just kind of showed. I just felt terrible.

Carol Tyler:
And then there was the … Dori was a wild woman, friends with Christine [Critter 00:23:25]. And those two were San Francisco with Don Donahue, drinking a lot, partying a lot. And the Crumbs loved her, and she had worked in Weirdo. But Trina and Ron Turner came up with the idea for an award, and when she passed away they thought that they would put it in her name, which mortified Aline and Diane, because it was as if “Wait a minute, she wasn’t rolling with Wimmen’s. She was ours.” You know, it was like this faction thing. It was like, what do you mean faction?

Alex Grand:
Territory. There’s a territory deal,

Carol Tyler:
Territory. You knew about that?

Alex Grand:
Well, no.

Carol Tyler:
They never talked-

Alex Grand:
I mean, we’re getting this from you now. Yes.

Carol Tyler:
Yeah. There was this idea that there was women who did comics for political reasons, and then other people who, as Aline said, likes to get laid.

Alex Grand:
Right? Yeah. Some people like that.

Carol Tyler:
And so there was like these two, and here I am nominated for this award. And people are saying, “Don’t accept it. You know, it’s in Dori’s name.” Other people would say “It’s an honor to accept it.” It’s like, I’m in the middle and I’m like “I don’t even know if I belong at this party!”

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Yeah. Interesting.

Carol Tyler:
In the middle.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. There’s like politics around this.

Carol Tyler:
Yeah. I loved Dori. I met her and she was wild. She was okay. You know? And then I won. I won. It was in the San Diego Comic-Con, given to me by Ron Turner. And I was standing there with this huge trophy he put together, with her dog on the top. I was just standing there. I could not talk.

Alex Grand:
Right. Kind of a rock and a hard place.

Carol Tyler:
I could feel the … I could just feel it. Like, if I accept this, they’re not going to like me. If I don’t accept that, they’re not … It’s like why is this happening? I just said “Someday, I’ll be able to talk about this,” but I think I was able to get out, “I feel terrible that this woman died. I feel honored to accept an award in her name.” Something like that.

Alex Grand:
There you go.

Carol Tyler:
But I couldn’t … I absolutely could not talk. And here I was a blabber mouth who used to get in front of crowds and tell wild stories and have them laying them out in the aisles. And yet I was at San Diego, couldn’t talk. I just cried too much.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Yeah. You’re kind of speechless with all that. Makes sense. There’s quite a few conflicting forces happening at the same time.

Carol Tyler:
And I mean, it wasn’t just the Wimmen’s. There was people who were … People would have fist fights at these underground comics parties. They were fighting over women. They were fighting over this. They were fighting over that. They’d get drunk and they fight. There were people punching. This one would punch this one. This girl would be with him, and then she’d go be with him. And then he’d be with her. It was a mess!

Alex Grand:
Wow. Sounds like rock and roll lifestyle, though. Right.

Carol Tyler:
It was, it was. The early undergrounds, totally rock and roll. And then I jumped into that, there was more drama, more rock and roll, crazy. But then of course, I was in the domestic side. I was up in Sacramento with a kid, and Justin sign painter, so it slowed down quite a bit, but the Crumbs were my neighbors. So they saved my ass. The Crumbs were over here in Winters and in Dixon there was Bob Armstrong. I didn’t get to see him that often-

Alex Grand:
Oh cool.

Carol Tyler:
But I did go hang out. Aline and I hung out a lot. For awhile, there.

Alex Grand:
Okay, Winters. That’s where the Crumbs lived? That’s interesting. Yeah. That’s cool. All right. Well Jim, go ahead on Wimmen’s Comix.

Jim Thompson:
You mentioned a Diane. I just want to clarify that’s Diane Noomin, correct?

Carol Tyler:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jim Thompson:
Okay.

Carol Tyler:
I love these … I love them all. I love Diane. I love Aline. I love Trina.

Jim Thompson:
Okay. Well, I wanted to get in to that a little bit, that-

Alex Grand:
Actually, a quick question I have. Were the fights fueled by alcohol or cocaine?

Carol Tyler:
The underground stuff was booze and pot.

Alex Grand:
Booze and pot. Okay. There you go. All right.

Carol Tyler:
Cocaine does not make you fight.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. Okay. There you go. So it was more of the booze and the pot mixed. Some comics, some rock and roll.

Carol Tyler:
And jealousy.

Alex Grand:
Jealousy, sexual.

Carol Tyler:
Bravado.

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Carol Tyler:
You know, “I’ll show you.”

Alex Grand:
Okay.

Carol Tyler:
Shit like that. And then, with the women it would be just snarking and all that stuff. I’d be like “Oh, stop. I don’t want no fights!”

Alex Grand:
Right, right. That’s cool.

Jim Thompson:
So I wanted to, before we get to Wimmen’s Comix, I want to ask just a few things on Weirdo, about the end of it. What was happening there at the end? I mean, it was such a great moment in comics, and with Aline it was bringing in all of these women artists. I mean, it was a huge moment. What was the downfall? Was it just not not enough readers or what was closing? Or were there personality clashes, or what was bringing it to an end?

Carol Tyler:
I think, no. I don’t think it was personality. I think you had your east coast, west coast thing going for a while there. Raw magazine and Weirdo over here. And by then Bijou and Arcade and all those things were winding down, pretty much gone. And then the Crumbs moved to France. That changed things a little bit. That was like a kind of an end of an era when they left.

Carol Tyler:
Head shops closed. A lot of places where you’d go get these things had closed. And they started to go to bookstores. And then there was a big problem because you’d be in the bookstore, you’d ask for the comic section, you’d end up seeing all the super stuff, and it’d be very few, if any, things like Raw or Crumb’s Weirdo in a place like Barnes & Noble. So where do you get that stuff? You know, distribution … It just petered out.

Jim Thompson:
Now you were talking about trying to figure out how to make the black and white, and the line work. You even talked about wind and things. Were each of you, all the artists there, learning from each other or adapting? Because like everybody had different approaches to it. I mean, like Mary Fleener bringing in all of the cubism and things, and Julie, you say, doing the stuff she was doing and the fluidity of her stuff. Were you guys learning from each other, or was it just finding it within yourself?

Carol Tyler:
You know, I can’t speak for others, but I was very, very acutely aware of the fact that I did not want to look like I was taking anybody else’s stuff. So I would read people’s comics, but at the same time, I had a slight aversion because I didn’t want to inadvertently … But it takes a lot to try to translate your marks, and find what works for you. Can you imagine if I started doing cubism stuff on my pages? Be like “Why is she copying Mary Fleener?”

Jim Thompson:
You couldn’t do it-

Carol Tyler:
And while that’s-

Jim Thompson:
Once she got there, there was no way you could do that, even if you wanted to.

Carol Tyler:
Why would I even try? So you find your own mark, your own way of putting it out and you got to know there’s no … I don’t know. Mary lives in LA somewhere. Maybe? Julie was up in Canada. We didn’t get together. The only person’s work I saw up close was Aline’s, because she was my neighbor, but I didn’t draw like her. And I know she wasn’t ripping off of me. She had found her own thing. I guess what I’m saying is, it’s not like college where we all living in the same, or your studios are in the same building or something like that. You work in isolation at wherever you’re at, and you show up with the work or you send it in, or something like that.

Carol Tyler:
I do know there was a couple of times when I would show up in Winters with my pages, and it’d be like “Ooh, I misspelled a word,” or I forgot something and I’d have to sit down at Robert’s drawing table, pick up one of his pens and make my corrections right there. It didn’t seem like I was at the altar of Holy or anything. It was just a drawing table, handy, that I needed in order to get that change corrected. Because there’s no Photoshop. So that means getting the white out and fixing the board?

Carol Tyler:
Seems like “What? You sat down and crumbs?” today, but-

Carol Tyler:
… like, “What? You sat down at Crumb’s today?” It’s like, “No big deal. It was just something I had to do.”

Jim Thompson:
That’s a good point, in terms of printing, now you were coming from a art background where you had seen your things on display as you intended them to look during the printing process. How frustrating was it in those early days to do the work and then see what it looked like on paper?

Carol Tyler:
I had a hard time because I’m very aware of the texture of the paper and if you put on Wite-Out, then you put another blob of it on, if you put too much globs of Wite-Out, you’ve got a mountain. Which, when printed, may show a little ghosting or something like that, so now you’re getting shades I didn’t intend. So I had a lot of … It was a big steep learning curve for me to figure out what I could get away with, what to do, and what not to do when it came to translating marks and getting thing printed.

Carol Tyler:
I look at the work, side-by-side comparison of the originals to the printed today, and it’s appalling to me, because I know what I was doing. I was more interested in the shapes and the textures, you know, that, but it’s a flat page, people. It took me a long time to say … And now with Photoshop, hey, it’s great. If I misspell a word or I got something wrong, I’ll just put it down here in the margin and slip it in later. I don’t have to make a patch with an X-Acto knife, and tape it from the back, and make sure it’s clean. I was appalled, because I didn’t like the way I was throwing down the marks, the way they were translating, which would look great in oil paint, but it’s black and white. It took me a while.

Carol Tyler:
I’m still, like I said, I’m still working on, sorry, learning things. When to stop. I kept trying to figure out … There’s something on my … I kept trying to figure out, like, okay. My students have trouble with this, too. So you got this jaw, there’s no line, really, or the nose. What you have are various shadings, but if you don’t shade it with the right size of a crosshatch, it’s going to look like you’ve lines on your neck or pieces of lumber. It was all over the place when I started. I go back and I look and it’s like, “Sheesh, clean that up, clean it off.” But I was trying to make a color in my mind and it was coming out logs.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah, no. We’ve talked to some inkers where they’re coming from a painting background and they want to paint and they have to figure out inking techniques to do that. It’s very hard.

Carol Tyler:
Really hard.

Jim Thompson:
So what is the different between Weirdo and Wimmen’s Comix in your work? Like when you started doing those, were the stories different, or was it just a different comic and you were doing your work and it didn’t make any difference?

Carol Tyler:
Really, the only thing I could think of was there was themes with Wimmen’s, there was a theme. So it’d be like, “The theme is disastrous relationships.” Okay, I can tell a story about that.

Jim Thompson:
Sure.

Carol Tyler:
What story would I do? Then I’d think, well, the first you think about is the breakup with so-and-so. It’s like, “I don’t want to do that. Push past that a little Tyler, can you remember something disastrous that happened to somebody else?” And that’s when I remembered my roommate who was South Korean.

Jim Thompson:
Right. So that was your roommate? I see.

Carol Tyler:
And so, I mean, I could have picked a hundred stories about my own disastrous relationships, but I thought, “Let’s see if we can focus on somebody else.”

Alex Grand:
That was actually a good focus, because I found myself engaged in that one, wondering, “What’s going to happen next with this relationship?” That was really well executed.

Jim Thompson:
So when Wimmen’s Comix gets a new publisher for issues 11 through 13, and they’re doing it through Renegade Press. Did you know Deni Loubert?

Carol Tyler:
No. I was-

Jim Thompson:
I’m sorry.

Carol Tyler:
I wasn’t part of the collective.

Jim Thompson:
So you were just submitting work and it didn’t really matter who was publishing it?

Carol Tyler:
I think I was on a list. They’d send me a thing and say, “Hey, you want to contribute?” Be like, “Sure.” And I didn’t pay any attention to who was who. It’s like, “Oh, here’s another gig.” Because I was looking, I really wanted to make a living at it, and it was hard to because the rates were so bad. And I knew I was learning, and I was new to the party. So I was doing what I could to stay humble, and try to understand how I could tell comics, and tell a good story and all of that. Oh, here’s another. Okay, I’ll do one for them. Here’s a special one-off, Fantagraphics is doing. Okay, I’ll do that.

Jim Thompson:
Was there something different about being involved in Wimmen’s Comix because of the history of it? It was just another job just like Weirdo for you?

Carol Tyler:
I hate to say that. I didn’t know there was a mission, you know? Is there a mission? Oh, to be a part of Wimmen’s means something? No, to be a part of Wimmen’s meant, “Well, I get to have a story published with a bunch of other awesome cartoonists.”

Jim Thompson:
Is this when you met Trina or did you already know her?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah, I think I must have met her through Turner, because she and Ron were very good friends. I think he published a lot of … Or helped her in her beginnings. But he adored her, and she was wonderful and always kind to me. Trina was kind to me, Aline was kind to me, everybody in that comics community was so welcoming and so kind. I just felt wonderful, you know? I was very sensitive about not wanting to be perceived just as Justin Green’s wife, “Let’s give her a job because she’s married to Justin.” I didn’t want that. I wanted my own merit. And so I made that clear with people, I don’t want you to say, “Oh, we want you to be in this because we like Justin.” I want you to do it because you like my work.

Jim Thompson:
Trina has often talked about the sexism of the early underground stuff. Did you encounter that, or was it not as pronounced by then, or it just wasn’t something you were thinking about?

Carol Tyler:
I’m aware of it now, but at the time I remember saying to her, “I don’t get what you’re talking about. I don’t feel that.”

Jim Thompson:
That’s interesting.

Carol Tyler:
“Whatever I want to publish …” Look, we had Aline there … Check on this quick. We had Aline as the editor, she was in for the work, so there was that. But, I’ll tell you, something happened at one of these shows I was at recently, I can’t remember if it was [SVX 01:47:29] or at Comic-Con. But I was at a panel with a bunch of guys, maybe it was Weirdo, I don’t remember. But I was on a panel with a bunch of guys, we were talking about the old days, and they were like, “Ha, ha, ha, remember how we used to make $100 a page?” And I said, “$100 a page? I was in that issue, I only got paid $35.” And they were like … I am thinking, “Trina was right!”

Jim Thompson:
Do you think that was actually at the Weirdo panel in San Diego? That that’s where they-

Carol Tyler:
No, I don’t think it was. But it was something so revealing to me, that these guys were all laughing about the low page rate, maybe it was 75 bucks. And I know I was making $35. So it’s like, “Fuck, they were paying the men more than me? Is that true?” You know what a difference that would have made if I had been able to make that same page? It seems like nothing today, but back then you’re spending 20 to 30 hours on a page. And I remember saying like, “Aline wants a four pager, I wonder if I made it a five page, that’s an extra …” I think I was getting 50 bucks, maybe $75.

Alex Grand:
And I think page rates should be the same, but do you think that was a gender thing, or was it more like someone had more of a reputation, people wanted to see their stuff more at that moment in time? Was there a seniority issue there, or was it really a gender difference?

Carol Tyler:
It was all the above, because there was times it’d make me so damn mad. I would do a really good story, and then there’d be the names of the people contributing on cover, “And more. And more.” That was my name, I guess, “And more.” So how are you ever going to get looked at, how are you ever going to be recognized, how are you going to get up there if you don’t get put on the cover? If they don’t champion your work, if they don’t get behind you? If they don’t pay you? Because when you’re working for shit wages like that, a little bit of money, then you have to go get second job, and a third job, you can’t put your full attention to things.

Carol Tyler:
If somebody had said to me, “I love you so much and I love your work so much, I’m going to throw some money at you.” I would have said, “Thank you.” I could buy childcare and I can produce 10 pages. And they’ll be like … I can do this, because guess what happened? The minute my kid got in college, I did Soldier’s Heart.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah, and I can’t wait to get to that, because that’s the thing. I mean, that’s something. Super quick, just because people are going to want to know, tell us who your babysitter was back in the early days.

Carol Tyler:
Leonardo DiCaprio, Leo.

Jim Thompson:
Yep, and that’s because his father was a comic book guy and knew Justin. They had done some work together, and he was around, and he was good with kids, right?

Carol Tyler:
George and, I think, Justin did some illustrations for him. I couldn’t get a sitter, so I had to bring the kid with me. I was like, “I have to bring the kid to the party.” And they were like, “Don’t worry about it. We’ve got childcare.” It Ron’s son, Colin, and his friend, Leo. She was like, “Mommy.” Get her out of here, okay. So I can schmooze and be with people, and then I went … I thought, “I’m going to go check on my kid.” So I went in there and looked, and they were … Leo was tickling her on the bed. It was so cute. [crosstalk 01:51:41].

Jim Thompson:
How old was he at that point?

Carol Tyler:
Oh, god. Okay, he must have been like … How old is this guy? How old is he now?

Jim Thompson:
Oh, I don’t know. He’s-

Carol Tyler:
They were a little older, they were like 10 years old or something, maybe.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, so this is before he was on Growing Pains.

Carol Tyler:
Yeah.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, because he’s 46. He was born in [crosstalk 01:52:06]-

Jim Thompson:
She later had his poster up from Titanic.

Carol Tyler:
My daughter’s 35 now.

Alex Grand:
He was born in ’74, so he was probably, yeah-

Carol Tyler:
11.

Alex Grand:
… maybe 14 or 12, or even earlier before-

Carol Tyler:
12, 13.

Alex Grand:
When was your daughter born exactly?

Carol Tyler:
’85.

Alex Grand:
’85. So he was probably 12, yeah. There you go.

Carol Tyler:
Yeah. So they were like playing video games and being like goofy guys, but then they were jumping on the bed the next time I checked. She was laughing her ass off. So they did a great [crosstalk 01:52:32]-

Alex Grand:
That’s awesome. And then we talked about George DiCaprio when we interviewed Bill Stout. They had some involvement together as well. It’s pretty cool.

Jim Thompson:
And what other celebrity connection is … And I don’t know if it’s true or not, is William Friedkin a cousin from your husband?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah, first cousin.

Jim Thompson:
Do you know him?

Carol Tyler:
Although [inaudible 01:52:54] does not like to discuss this. He has distanced himself from Justin for reasons that we do not understand nor care about anymore. So it’s like, “Fine, you want to be like that? Stupid.” And let’s see, what other claim to fame do I have? I mean, people say, “I know you.” They say that about me. My students, it’s like, “Oh, I’m a celeb? Whoo. That’s so cool.”

Carol Tyler:
No, he’s the biggest thing, I think, Leo. But I wanted so much for him to … When she was going through her bad time, when she was 12, I wanted so much for Leo to show up and cheer her up, but it didn’t happen. Although she got a lot of mileage out of that, she had started at a new school and walked in, and they were like, “Who are you?” And she said, “That doesn’t matter, but Leonardo DiCaprio was my babysitter.”

Jim Thompson:
That had to get her right up there.

Carol Tyler:
After that she was … cool.

Jim Thompson:
All right, Alex is going to talk about Late Bloomer and the stories that go in it.

Carol Tyler:
All right.

Alex Grand:
You had worked on Wimmen’s Comix and in through the ’90s, there was Twisted Sisters with Kitchen Sink. And a lot of this stuff was collected in 2005 in Late Bloomer. Fantagraphics did it, it was a reprint, but there was also some unpublished work. Robert Crumb said in the forward that, and I’m going to quote him here, it says that your stories are, “All about gritty reality. The hard struggles of common, everyday life, no escapism, no cutesying. She never tries to make herself come off as Miss Cool and Clever. Nothing gets contrived or overdramatized, the level of honesty about herself is shocking at times you’ll see, but it’s the kind of revelation that uplifts and instructs.” So is that how you see your own work? Is that what you’re aiming for when you’re doing that? Is there a consciousness to it or is really an artistic subconscious effort to get energy out creatively? Tell us about that process a bit.

Carol Tyler:
So what Late Bloomers is is a collection of pretty much the stuff I did for Weirdo, and Wimmen’s, and some other random one-off that were out there. And so the reason for doing them is just that I always wanted to tell a story. I wanted it to be a good story, something worth reading. Pretty simple like that. And people can read and interpret, but in order to tell a good story, you have to be honest. So you can’t shy away from difficult truths, or lie to your audience. All that stuff shows through. It seems funky or wrong.

Alex Grand:
Right, it doesn’t fit.

Carol Tyler:
No, it doesn’t fit. So my work does have an authenticity, it’s because I tell you what’s going on. I’m going to tell you what happened or what that thing was, or what I felt, or what I encountered.

Alex Grand:
One of my favorite ones from there is a 1991 story you did, Adult Children of Plumbers and Pipefitters, and it was this plumber’s daughter who worked in a corporation and was very talented. But she was very foul-mouthed and practical, fixing people’s pipes in the office, that was funny. And how much of that do you feel like you’ve … Because your dad was a plumber that almost you come off this way to some people, too, yourself?

Carol Tyler:
I was actually working in an office, in a history center, and there was a lady there who was in a codependency group. I was like, “What’s that?” And then she would talk about her … She’d have to go hug her little teddy bear in her office and be like, “That is so weird.” And then she’d talk about codependency, codependency. She was an adult child of an alcoholic, it was the thing at the time. And I thought, “Well, I’m the adult child of a pipefitter. I wonder how that would be.”

Carol Tyler:
So I just imagined, you know, this lady on her way to a meeting with the shoulder pads and the whole bit, with the hair and nails, and having to go to the meeting. And yet, notices in the break room, notices a drip. “Ooh, that could cost money,” because she knows [crosstalk 01:57:35]-

Alex Grand:
Right. She knows what’s involved, yeah.

Carol Tyler:
Yeah, so she starts tinkering with it and it becomes a full-blown problem. And they’re like … I was thinking about that the other day, because the office, the main guy’s name is Mr. Greedy, “You tell Mr. Greedy I’ll be up in a minute.” So she gets involved and fixes the drain, she’s cussing like a plumber, because that’s what they do. “You cocksucking son of a bitch [inaudible 01:58:05] goddammit fuck.” You know, she’s a lady with a puffy bow right here, ready for her meeting.

Alex Grand:
Right, right.

Carol Tyler:
And so, she, “Tell Mr. Greedy I’m saving him thousands of dollars on plumbing bills. He can wait.”

Alex Grand:
It’s a big deal, yeah.

Carol Tyler:
And then she’s in her codependency meeting later with her teddy bear, and she’s talking about he doesn’t appreciate what she did for him, basically. So it was straight out of what this lady was talking about all the time, about her codependency group. And I thought, “Okay, adult children of alcoholic, well I’m an adult child of a plumber, and this is how it would go down.”

Alex Grand:
Okay, there you go, yeah. So then, now in ’93 you had a story, Migrant Mother, and this was interesting because you lived in Sacramento in 1986. And this is all about being a new mom again, traveling to Colorado, it was hell. Something about permanent damage to the right ear, so that sounds like a tough … That all happened?

Carol Tyler:
It all happened. I went out there, my husband had one of these miraculous gigs where he made $25,000 in six weeks. It was a fluke. So we were like in the money. He was ecstatic. And I got a cold while I was there. I started to feel bad, shitty, really sick. It goes through that in the story. It talks about how I feel so terrible, but I just get this thought in my head, because my kid was terrible twos at the time. I just got to go home. Because my home, I fixed the house, there’s basically a giant rubber room. She couldn’t hit her head on a coffee table, because we didn’t have one. It was just a piece of carpeting and pillows. There’s nothing, very simple.

Carol Tyler:
So just go home. I couldn’t get home, because I had terrible ear. They stop in Phoenix, then they were going to go home. I couldn’t make it out of Phoenix, like terrible. It felt like, honestly, up in there … Putting things, it was like chopsticks they were sticking up into my head.

Alex Grand:
Right into that frontal sinus, yeah.

Carol Tyler:
Oh, it was the most painful. Don’t ever get on a plane with a cold, because as they descended, I couldn’t relieve the pressure, and it was pushing. I was trapped. I thought I was going to have a stroke. I thought I was going to explode and I had a terrible kid. Everything wrong. I sent the baggage ahead. I had no cash on me. It wouldn’t happen today, but back then, it was an absolute disaster. She was a hell on wheels in the airport.

Alex Grand:
This sounds hard. I feel like I did that to my mom, I’m sure. I feel like maybe my mom repeats something like that.

Carol Tyler:
Every kid does it. Yeah, every kid acts terrible at that age. But to be sick and stranded, it was just awful. People like that story. I’ve heard over the year about they can to relate to that, especially have their terrible kids, you know? Terrible [inaudible 02:01:37] we call it.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, I feel like I did stuff. I think one time Mom took me to Marshalls, and then I actually went and hid in one of those clothes carousels for like five hours. And she thought I was kidnapped, she had the cops come.

Carol Tyler:
Oh, what were you doing? [crosstalk 02:01:54]-

Alex Grand:
And then I just stayed there, I stayed there and I tortured her. And I knew what I was doing. I think I was five at the time. And she still brings it up now, and I finally got out, “Ta-Da.” And she was like, “That’s not funny.” I mean, it was … I feel bad looking back.

Carol Tyler:
[inaudible 02:02:07] I think it’s funny, Mom, come on.

Alex Grand:
And I feel like you were kind of tortured in a similar circumstance. In 1995, and you talked, you mentioned the Hannah story, about your late sister, Anne, that you found out more about. In 1969, you were 18 and that’s when you found out about Anne, right? When you were 18?

Carol Tyler:
I think I was 17, you know why? Because I am a late in the year birthday.

Alex Grand:
Okay, there you go.

Carol Tyler:
It doesn’t matter.

Alex Grand:
I know what you mean. I’m one of those, too. Yeah, you’re right. Okay.

Carol Tyler:
I didn’t hear about Anne until I was in my … 1993, 2, or 3, so I was 40s?

Alex Grand:
Okay, so although you found out about Anne at 18, you got the details later?

Carol Tyler:
Well, I knew my whole life, I knew about Anne. Like I said, she was the star at night, and I also knew we had her, because I saw her pictures.

Alex Grand:
So even as a kid your mom would make a reference to her?

Carol Tyler:
Very simply that she was in the photographs and not to think about it, just … And every now and then she’d just crying about something that had to do with Anne and that would be it.

Alex Grand:
And that was it. And that was done in Drawn & Quarterly One in 1994, you were nominated for a 1995 Eisner Award and it’s on the Fantagraphics list of Top 100 Comics of the 20th Century. So this struck a chord with a lot of readers including myself when I first read it. I’ve never had that happen to me, but I can easily see that happening to any parent or any family. What do you think it is about that story that … About your story with that, that connects so many people when they all read that?

Carol Tyler:
I don’t know, because I started to realize I was connecting at a certain point. And yet I didn’t want to feel like, “Oh, this is my job to connect with these emotionally gripping stories because I only had one sister that died.” And I thought … I was so happy that I was time tripping with it, showing older era or I could do before. Like looking back at ago and today, and translating visually. I was looking at the formal aspects of conveying the idea, but I don’t really … When I did Hannah, I’d worked at that history place for five years, and I got laid off, and I banged it out in like a few months. So it was pent up.

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Carol Tyler:
I kept doing Weirdo stories and I had to stop or cut back a lot because I was working at this history place. And that’s during that time when my mom told me. So the first chance I got, that’s the story I did. I remember Chris Oliveros saying afterwards, “Do you think you could do another one like that for our next issue?” It was like, “No.”

Alex Grand:
Right, we need more of that. Yeah.

Carol Tyler:
I can’t. And then I wanted to … You can’t overanalyze things or you’ll kill it. What, you okay?

Alex Grand:
There was something about, also, you made mention of abduction of 12-year-old Polly Klaas, is that right? And that had some connection?

Carol Tyler:
Yes. Yeah, because during the whole time in California, this was one of the most gut-wrenching abduction of a child. It was live television. So back before the way the media is today, you can get on your thing and look up anything at any time. So you’re sitting there watching TV, you know, you see the Challenger explode. You’re watching TV, all of a sudden there is live coverage from Santa Rosa about this girl who was stolen out of bedroom. It was horrible. Or the kid gets stuck in the drainpipe. That was an experience that we really don’t have today that comes upon you like that. “Oh, this is a shock.”

Carol Tyler:
And so the whole time I was doing that, yeah, the Polly Klaas drama was unfolding. And then, they had her funeral live. It was so sad. It got to me. So I put that emotion into the piece, you know?

Alex Grand:
Into Hannah, right. Yeah.

Carol Tyler:
I mean, it wasn’t because of that, but that’s where I was at. When I was doing … I knew I was like, “Okay, now I …” With anything that you’re doing that’s emotional, you have to hit the content. But when I did that Hannah story, I had also done all this research into like, “Wait a minute, Ravenswood Hospital, are they still in business?”

Alex Grand:
And so you look into the hospital where Anne died.

Carol Tyler:
The old-fashioned way, I had to look things up and make phone calls. And so when I found out that she died because the hospital had fucked up, I called the hospital to get her records. And one lady says, “Oh, yeah. Okay, we got them right here.” I said, “Oh, great. Okay, because I want them. Send them to me here.” “Well, okay. Call back tomorrow.” “Fine, I will.”

Carol Tyler:
I call back and I get this, “We’ll transfer you to this other lady.” So I get this other lady, she says, “Oh, hi. So you’re the sister of a long-deceased Anne Tyler? Oh, I understand that you have a desire to contribute to a fund to have a memorial fountain built in her …” I said, “What? No.” She honestly thought I was calling Ravenswood Hospital, this lady, to donate money so they could build a memorial fountain to her. I said, “Where did you get that idea? I want my sister’s records. I want to know exactly, according to you guys, what happened. I know what happened.” Well, I kept not hearing, not hearing, not hearing. A couple of weeks later I call back and they said, “Oh, there’s no records.” They had conveniently had lost them.

Alex Grand:
Yeah. That had happened around the time you were putting that story together? That happened in the ’90s, this situation with the records?

Carol Tyler:
Because my mom didn’t want anything to do with it, I was like, “Mom, you could still sue.” She was like, “Leave it alone.” So when I was drawing the Hannah story, and there’s that place where she’s got the burns. I draw a line and there’s like smeared … The red ink is smeared, that’s because I was crying when I was drawing it, and I was taking a tissue and dabbing, because I didn’t want to get it on the page. But it hit the red line and made all the smear marks that were her burns.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, wow.

Alex Grand:
So then the mechanism of death, just from what I read, was that she had burnt herself. I think your mom was preparing something on the oven, it poured on her, burned her. She went to the hospital, stayed in overnight-

Carol Tyler:
Oh, wait. Stop.

Alex Grand:
Okay.

Carol Tyler:
There’s no ambulance. There’s no 911. So you’re screaming out the window, while you’re hanging your kid, “Help! Help!”

Alex Grand:
Right. Yes.

Carol Tyler:
So a neighbor drives her to the place. They say, “She’ll be fine. We’ve bandaged her up. Go home. We’ll see you tomorrow morning.” Because there’s no phone. My mom and dad didn’t have a phone yet.

Alex Grand:
Right, right.

Carol Tyler:
So when they came in the next morning with their [inaudible 02:10:14] to pick up their child, a clerk at the front desk says, “Oh, she’s listed as deceased.”

Alex Grand:
Right. So she slept on her back, vomited, and choked on it, right?

Carol Tyler:
They gave her some kind of medicine.

Alex Grand:
Yeah.

Carol Tyler:
They gave her medicine, it made her choke, and because they had her on her back, she aspirated.

Alex Grand:
Okay. There you go.

Carol Tyler:
And today you sue the hell out of somebody like that. But my mom said, and I said it in the strip, and she’s always maintained that would have been no good money. It would never have brought us to any kind of goodness or happiness. She’s right.

Alex Grand:
Right. Revenge money, in a way. So, yeah. It’s hard to put … Money and justice, how that’s a complicated, complex question.

Carol Tyler:
And there are people who would say, “Take the money.” She did not, till the day she died, she didn’t want to discuss it, anything. She thought it was her fault.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, that’s interesting. Because now the next topic is Zero Zero #4, 1995, about licking a dog’s butt. That’s quite a different topic than what we were just talking about. But you did create more things, you did go over more stories. One was really interesting, the-

Carol Tyler:
Part of that is I like … I would, every now and then, I would say, “It’s comics, why don’t you make something kind of funny.”

Alex Grand:
There you go. That’s what that is, it’s a departure from the serious. The Night I Rode the Hard Drive to Heartbreak, 1996, The Computer Matching and a Terrible Night at the Dance, this was printed in Mind Riot: Coming of Age in Comix. So that’s interesting-

Alex Grand:
… coming of age in comics. So that’s interesting, so this was in your high school, that they had a computer match with your-

Carol Tyler:
Yeah.

Alex Grand:
… And this was what? In the late ’60s, they were doing that?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah, that was a theme comic. It had to be about new technology and stuff. That was the theme. So I thought about that computer dance and we’d have these cards. I was looking for some, we’ve had these IBM cards and we’d have to fill in the circles of what our ideal may look like or our ideal. Yeah. So then they matched us with the public school kids. That was the mistake.

Alex Grand:
Don’t let the Catholic kids integrate with them.

Carol Tyler:
Uh-uh (negative). And so yeah, the story goes on to talk about how I get Mr. Gorgeous, but he’s not interested in me. I’m all dolled up working class style, with the wrong clothes and I’m not willing to do what he wants to do. So I barked at him like a dog.

Alex Grand:
That’s a good reaction.

Carol Tyler:
He called me a dog, so I caught him in the parking lot. You’re terrible.

Alex Grand:
And you actually did that?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah, I do that. My stories are not fiction.

Alex Grand:
That’s amazing, I think. That’s funny. 2002, the substitute teacher at Arizona Elementary wanting to survive the parking lot, but it turned into a sad discussion of the mental illness of the young Romero who killed herself. That was an interesting one because it kind of starts off comical, but then it becomes this really sad thing. And that’s an interesting, almost bittersweet story, right?

Carol Tyler:
Well, because isn’t that the way it is with children? And I’m talking about my experiences as a sub, which anybody who’s been a substitute teacher knows you’ve got a million stories and you have to be adaptable and you have to make it up on the fly half the time. And I really kind of covered the topics of the situations I would roll into. And then yeah, the most shocking was it was when this incident with this girl, who over the weekend hung herself, and they have to go back to that same school and find out about it.

Alex Grand:
Right. And no one called you, no one told you, “Hey, that person that you connected with did that.”

Carol Tyler:
Tell the sub, just the sub lady. That was hard.

Alex Grand:
So 2002, and in the end, you work your daughter into the comic, and she’s older, and she understands comics now, she’s coauthor in it. So this is an interesting evolution her being the toddler that was torturing you on a flight. And now it’s like, she’s in the comics with you. So tell us about that and kind of seeing her grow up and being a coauthor in some of this stuff.

Carol Tyler:
Well, in Late Bloomer, I set it up into three sections. So the first section you’ll see a picture of her as a little baby. On the first part of the first section, there’s a image of her in the yard and she’s on the little blanket I have down. She’s cute. I’ve got her little things on the clothesline. And then the chapter head for the second chapter shows kind of our kid crap backyard. And she’s like 10. And things are a little bit more disarray. And I think I show the metaphor for myself on the first one. There’s a chair, a drawing table chair, and it’s in pretty good shape, a little bit worn.

Carol Tyler:
And by the third one, there’s a tiny little bikini of hers on the clothesline. Those are her clothes as they go along. The baby clothes, there’s a bunch of them. When she’s 10, there’s a few less. And then her little bikini, and she’s in a lawn chair, and my drawing table chairs like this. So I show the evolution of her physically for the chapter heads, for the content, from each of the sections. Yeah. So by the time she gets to a certain age, yeah. She knows that mommy’s going to tell a story about me. “Right, Mom?”

Alex Grand:
Mommy always talks about me. Yeah.

Carol Tyler:
Well, at a certain point, she knew kind of early on. I love this story. When she went to kindergarten, she came back home and she said, “Mom, guess what? Mommy, Jason’s dad, he works at a bank.” I’d say, “Okay.” And then I though, “Wonder what that’s about.” It’s like, because every adult she knows is a cartoonist. And here, she met a kid whose parent is something normal and she was shocked by it.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, that’s right. Culture shock.

Carol Tyler:
Yeah. So she was aware that she was in the comics. And over the years I’ve explained to her and apologized and all that stuff. And she said, “I don’t care.”

Alex Grand:
2005, The Outrage is a fun story. We alluded to that a little bit earlier too, but that was 16 pages. It was about the love of the early ’80s who went off and got rich. And then you got married to Judd, who I think is Justin.

Carol Tyler:
Yeah.

Alex Grand:
Just the name switch a little bit. And then there was this thought of Roy just kind of getting rich. And this is interesting because a lot, and this kind of goes to what Robert Crumb was saying about you, is that you don’t put yourself out as the perfect winner or the perfect victor. You put out even the things that you might have some weird feelings about, or even that a lot of people would be embarrassed about, but you put it all out there. There’s no filter.

Carol Tyler:
Yeah, that’s the comic where I do talk about how I get overwhelmed with rage over… Yeah, he took my energies, a lot of stuff we worked on together. Maybe it wasn’t specifically exactly lifted from my sketchbook, but it was certainly lifted from the time where we evolved together. And it just struck me when I was at my lowest. And it seemed like, “Oh, he wins the art game and I’m the loser. And I’ve got this baby.” And I had lost my milk that week. And I had what they… You get postpartum depression, but you get postpartum psychosis. You can get that after you’ve stopped nursing. I didn’t realize that nursing can defer postpartum depression.

Alex Grand:
It kind of holds on to some of the pregnancy hormone doing that.

Carol Tyler:
Yeah. Yeah. So I crashed, I was having a crash when I saw that show. And that’s when I thought I’d stab her to death. Whole thing, it was wrong, my brain was wrong. My brain was off. I had to get help, but they didn’t know what that was back then. Now they know it. If there are women who are having this problem, they can even have a tendency of that. But there was not even a tendency. I remember going to the emergency room, they sent me to a psychologist and it was shameful and embarrassing. It’s stupid.

Alex Grand:
No, but I that’s interesting that you… And that you expressed it and published it.

Carol Tyler:
And so many women have come up to me and said, “I’m so glad you did that. I’m so glad you’ve revealed pregnancy and motherhood to be exactly what it can be for some of us.”

Jim Thompson:
It’s not just the narrative. It’s not just that you told a story. It seems to me that your storytelling really takes a leap up in this. And maybe it’s because you had enough space to do it. But those images are really, really powerful. Not to say that others weren’t, but the transformation of you, of your body, as you’re losing it and becoming demonic, is I think the most powerful work you had done up to that point. Now, of course, you get to, and we’re going to do it next, segue to You’ll Never Know, but those 12 pages just kick in terms of conveying just how desperate and how dangerous the situation was.

Carol Tyler:
Well, I’ll tell you, that was a full color everything. Everything about it. The lines, I really worked on, I’m talking about formalism now. But I really wanted every single stroke to carry and convey mood through color. And I was able to do that. So I was really happy to do that, but yeah. Hey, knowing I could do that meant that yes, I could go to the rage. I could do rage. I could use the color to enhance that. And then I was getting skilled to the point where I knew how to paste. I could pace it this way I could do this. I could show this. I could add this.

Jim Thompson:
When they told that story the same way without the color, it would have been something entirely different.

Carol Tyler:
No. So the doors were opening to color. And I did that just after that, at the same… I mean, it was like that. And then boom, got right into You’ll Never Know, which turned into Soldier’s Heart. So that was like, my kid was in college. I knocked that out. She graduated in 2003 and left home. No, she graduated high school in 2003 and left home, moved out. I got that flipped around. And it was posted in 2005, right? Late Bloomer.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah. 2005.

Carol Tyler:
And then when it came out, I went to the college up here because I had been subbing, and I threw it on the desk of the Dean of the art college. And I said, “I need to be teaching this. It doesn’t get any better than this. I can do this.” I just bullshitted my way into a job because I was sick and tired. I’d been working. I did a festival in this town. It’s like “These fuckers don’t,” I’m sitting in this meeting. They’re talking about, “Where are we going to place the trash?” Two hours on, “Where are we going to place the trash can for the festival?” Well, I can draw a trash can better than anybody here. I don’t want to do any more meetings. If I’m going to do any work, it’s going to be teaching this stuff. So I bullshitted my way into teaching a class that lasted for 16 years.

Jim Thompson:
That’s great. I know it was on comics, but what were you actually doing in it? I mean, was it-

Carol Tyler:
In class?

Jim Thompson:
Yes. Was it a how to? Was it primarily comics history? Was it a learning to do comics, hands-on kind of class?

Carol Tyler:
Actually, I did the teacher thing. I developed a mission, a rubric, standards, the whole thing. I taught them how to do it, I taught them the history of comics, and how to assess comics, how to make critical assessments based on content and form. And I never used McLeod’s book. Sometimes I had kids saying, “Are we going to have a textbook?” I said, “I’m your textbook. Listen.”

Jim Thompson:
Now, was that because you don’t agree with McLeod’s book or was it just because you didn’t think a textbook was appropriate, would get in the way of the education?

Carol Tyler:
I didn’t want it to be “Hi, I’m a consumer. I demand a textbook. Show me how we do this. And then I’ll feel like I had the outcome that I paid for.” It’s like, “No textbooks. Listen. I’m very well craft. I’m on top of my craft. You want to learn how to do comics? Listen to what I have to tell you and watch what I show you. Don’t all be going to some book that’s going to say, “Here’s how you do sequence here too. I’ll show you, we’ll read it.”

Carol Tyler:
They each had to investigate two or three arts work. So I’d say “You’re going to do Charles Barnes, and you’re going to do Debbie Drescher,” for example. And they’d have to go find the work, buy their books if they could. I had a list of people, the most repressive kid in the class, I’d give him S. Clay Wilson. “Go find some of S. Clay Wilson’s work and read it.” And then they’d have to read the work and do a report based on the assessment tool that I had drafted, which means they would have to look at the visual characteristics. They’d have to do tactical assessment and then content assessment based on things like, “How well does the character convey the mood?” Blah, blah, blah.

Jim Thompson:
So this is fascinating. And I wish we could… Because I was a teacher too for 15 years. And I would love to talk about this and get into rubrics and everything else. But we want to give You’ll Never Know a fair amount of attention. So let’s talk about that. Tell me when you realized this was going to be the big project that it was.

Carol Tyler:
I didn’t quite know. I just know that Dad had called up and said he was remembering things about the war. I remember that that was interesting to me because I didn’t have a good communication with my dad for years. And now all of a sudden, he was talking to me and I was amazed that we could talk. And so it gave us a place to connect. Like, “Chuck. Hey, Chuck.” I got to talk to him. I was no longer the pipsqueak. I could say, “Dad,” I could call him on the phone. I had a reason to talk to him in a reason to call. And so before I decided to do the thing, I thought I’d just videotape his story. And when I went over there to Indiana where they lived and sat him down and he did that thing where he was going “Turn that off, turn it off.” He didn’t want to talk about the war. I thought, “Oh boy, why not? Why not talk about it, Chuck?”

Carol Tyler:
He had this look. So I thought, “Oh, that’s interesting. I’m going to do some research.” So I got my big heavy books out and I went to the library and I did… I thought, “Holy God,” based on what he told me, his records in the photographs, I started to realize this guy was in trouble. And then it started to click and explain things. And it’s like, “I want to write about this. I want to draw this.” And the first thing I drew was the pages that talked about he was getting ready to go into chemotherapy and there was all his chemicals. I thought “This will be fun to draw.” I really didn’t know where I was going with the book. Now, I didn’t have that overview type thing. I just knew parts of it.

Carol Tyler:
He had trouble talking about it, but he was in France, and he was here, and he talked about this. My mom did this. And at the same time, this was going on so I thought “Okay, I’m going to try to pull all these elements together, give you a sense of the now, the then, and tell the story through those moments.” So the first fun thing to draw, which came right out of that story, we were just talking about The Outrage, using color to really convey was that pile of chemicals. And I used the putrid greenish yellow to show the stink marks coming off of the fumes and stuff.

Carol Tyler:
And then because that was telling about chemo. So why was I talking about chemo? Because he had resilience. So that was a quality I wanted to talk about. And how does a person who can stand down chemo, stand down cancer, the way that he did, why can’t he stand down this? I guess he has, I guess he has stood down whatever demons are bothering him. So let me explain who this guy is to the reader. So I felt like people had to know him a little bit in order to feel what he felt, feel his anguish, and to feel how I felt kind of trying to facilitate that. But I couldn’t because my life was a wreck. So you got somebody who’s interested in trying to help out as if I was capable.

Jim Thompson:
Now at this point, you had made arrangements for this. I mean, you knew this was a project. And did you have an editor that was looking at your work as you were going on?

Carol Tyler:
Nope.

Jim Thompson:
Did that happen? At some point, you made arrangements for this to be published?

Carol Tyler:
Well, I’d always published with Fantagraphics and I worked with Kim Thompson over there. And so he was just like, “Yeah, do whatever you want.” I had a handshake deal, “Hey, want to do this?” “Okay. Let’s shake hands. We’ll do this.” Did the whole thing here at this very spot where I’m at now, sent all the files by email or Dropbox, or whatever it is, over the internet.

Jim Thompson:
You sent the first volume to Kim Thompson and said, “Here it is.” What was his reaction? Because I talked about the last thing being groundbreaking, but this is beautiful in a way. I mean, this is artistic in a way that is wholly unexpected. And one of the, I think more important autobiographical things that right up there with the big ones, this is one of those. And what was the reaction by Thompson?

Carol Tyler:
I mean, he was excited. He was thrilled. He was asked me years and years ago to up my game a little bit. “Don’t do the body stuff.” He said, “You pull off the feeling stuff so much better.” It’s like, “I knew that.” I just needed that nudge, but he pretty much just let me do what I was going to do. He had faith in me and he didn’t say like, “I think on page 57, it’s not click.” He didn’t say any of that stuff. That was all my doing.

Jim Thompson:
Now. Was it your decision to do it in three volumes?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah. And I did that because my parents, at the time, well, they were getting older and older and I honestly didn’t know if they were going to make it. And so I thought, “Oh God, this is taking me.” It took me so much longer. I kept thinking of little places where I needed to add more content. And that book, as I was doing it, it was taking shape. I love that title, You’ll Never Know. But when it became, when we got all done with the three, and Kim was gone by then. Gary was like, “Nope, people don’t get it.” And I said, “What do you mean they don’t get it? It’s their theme song. It’s the things you don’t know. It’s everything. I tied the whole thing in with this title.” And he says, “Nope.”

Carol Tyler:
And so nobody ever meddled with me about anything except that Gary didn’t want the title You’ll Never Know. He said it was the publicist or somebody or I don’t know. Somebody didn’t like it up the food chain. And so it had to be changed, which I hated, but it’s fine. Soldier’s Heart is what it is. I did it in three sections because of my elderly parents. And also because it was taking me so long, I needed the buoyancy. I needed that propelling of like, “Okay, I got one. Now I’m going to go onto the second one. And then this leads to the third.” It was gaining traction.

Carol Tyler:
When that New York Times, when the first line came out, the New York Times gave it a rave view. It was like, “Oh God, now I got to live up to that. Jesus” But I kept thinking “I got to do that.” I also felt like I had done my career up until that point in fits and starts due to my parenting duties and other responsibilities. I never had the time to devote to just sitting down and doing my work. So I had this job at the college and I could do it. I could fit it in and get it done and take care of them. I take the pages up there to take care of them and it just sort of tumbled out that way. And then when I put it together as The Soldier’s Heart, I added 60 more pages. So it turned out to be a quite a big thing.

Jim Thompson:
What kind of reaction did you… I mean, could you have surviving family, your brothers, what was your family’s reaction, various people that saw it during the production of it? Or did anybody see it until it was-

Carol Tyler:
My dad loved it. He saw it and he loved it. My mom saw the first two.

Jim Thompson:
Right. I know she didn’t get to see the end.

Carol Tyler:
She loved. She didn’t get to see the end. My dad saw… He didn’t get to see The Soldier’s Heart, big thick book. But he saw the three. My sisters lived through the two. My brothers don’t like my dad. So it doesn’t matter what they think. It’s a doorstop to them.

Jim Thompson:
And your husband, because he’s a player in it too. And he’s not always a sympathetic figure in this, to say the least. Did he think it was fair?

Carol Tyler:
Yes he did. And I think I was fair to him. I think I did it pretty well. And I’ve also had to smack some people around. It’s like, “Come on, it’s a story. You know what I mean? I’m going to tell it as close as I can. But for the sake of readability, it’s not like you’re reading through like every single date has to fall.” You have to be pliable. You have to have some flexibility in things here and there. So even though it’s true and it all happened, you do have to bend it around. It has to shape into a story. It wouldn’t read right if you did it just like, “And then this happened and then this happened. And then after that, exactly this time, this happened.” That’s not the craft of the art. The art itself has to live.

Jim Thompson:
Have you talked to surviving veterans of the war?

Carol Tyler:
Yes. Yes. I have.

Jim Thompson:
Tell us about that. Because that I wish my dad had gotten to see this. He died before this came out.

Carol Tyler:
So many people have told me how much this books means to them because either a relative or like you just expressed, I’ve gone give talks at places. And people come up to me afterwards, they’re crying. I wish it had been out 20 years earlier or 10 years earlier than it did, or it had a bigger impact, reached more people. That’s okay. I don’t think my work’s on a timeline like that. But I decided to have my class, my students, have the experience of interviewing veterans and then interpreting their material. That was the lesson. To listen, interpret, and then create a story based on what you heard. So I would bring them into my classroom. I’d bring the veterans into the class. That was one of the high points of teaching, is recruiting the vets, getting them into the class, having the students do this work, and then presenting them with the original artwork afterwards.

Carol Tyler:
It was just so great. So great. And these guys appreciated me, and women. They were so appreciative of what I had done. The American Legion came and did a video of me and everything like that. And what I hate about all of this is that it’s a story about resilience, but it’s also about post-traumatic stress. And it’s about the effect of war. So it’s not glory, glory to the hero, war heroes. It’s about, again, difficult truths and what we live with when faced in certain situations, how my dad got through it and how it affected me.

Carol Tyler:
And so now that patriotism and being an American and all that stuff has been hijacked by these Patriots, they don’t like it because “You showed a soldier who was weak.” I’ve had somebody say that. “No soldiers are weak like that.” And then they’re we come to find out with the numbers being the way they are, with veterans suicides, war can… It messes with the psyche. I’m glad I wrote the book, but it just kills me the way that people have a perception of the military. A lot of people won’t read it because they think it’s about us. “It’s just a soldier book.” It’s about “Oh, I’m not interested in the military. Therefore, I’m not going to read Soldier’s Heart.”

Jim Thompson:
But you became much more in demand after this, in terms of being brought into classes. I remember, I think you came to USC when I was teaching from there. And I was super aware of your book in that context as well. It just changed who you are as an artist when you say, I mean, both in terms of perception and in terms of your ambition and what you were doing.

Carol Tyler:
Well, there was a little bit of a thing. She’s a weirdo artist, or she was in women’s, she’s a lightweight, she doesn’t finish any… Somebody said she doesn’t finish anything. In fact, there was a very cutting comment. I was at this talk in Chicago, and it was centered around some artists, some key artists of culture. Think about Gary Panter, The Crumbs, Spiegelman, Francois, Joe Sacco, Linda Berry, Charles Burns, Chris Ware. Okay. Then somebody saw me sitting there and said, “What’s she doing here?” Referring to me. And so this was 2012 and I thought, “Oh, you think I’m here because of my husband? Have you not read my latest work?” When I heard that, I was just like, “Why does this shit exist?” That bothered me. But yes-

Jim Thompson:
No one can say that after Soldier’s Heart.

Carol Tyler:
Huh?

Jim Thompson:
No one should have said that in the first place, but now they can’t say it. Right? I mean, the perception has changed.

Carol Tyler:
Thankfully, yes. It’s not said. And I think I’m not “And more” anymore. I’m “And more” on Twitter. Yeah. I mean, I told my daughter, “I would never, ever, ever sacrifice one day of being with you, that you needed me or being with you as your mom, so that I could have a bigger career as a cartoonist.” So the fact that I raised a child, she’s off and running and doing well, and she had a lot of psychological problems from OCD and stuff like that. Probably at the time when I could have hit it on a second hard, like around the time of 1997, ’98 in there, I had to back up because she needed my help. But I don’t care. What kind of timeline am I on? I just have to tell the great story. There is a creep thing going on now, it’s I’m getting old and I’ve got a big story I’m doing now. And it’s like, I must finish, but it’s so exciting for me to do this work, the one I’m working on now.

Jim Thompson:
And we’re going to get to that after we talk about the reaction to this, after the 2015 publication, what happens the following year in terms of all the recognition and things. I did want to ask about one thing. And this is because I’m a southerner, and therefore I have a great, weird love of tomatoes. I want to talk about your Cincinnati magazine. I mean, I love tomatoes. Talk to me about your one page strip that you would do for Cincinnati magazine.

Carol Tyler:
Oh yeah. This was in 2013. They called me up and said, “Hey, could you do the inside back cover?” I was like, “Yes, I’m on for that. So how about call it Tomatoes?” Because one of the things I did, there were riots in this town in 2001, racial cop killing. Terrible thing. And I should call it civil unrest because we got a lot of police reform after that incident. Well, of course what happens in situations like that often happens, is that a bunch of people packed up and moved out to the suburbs. And I thought, “Nope, I’m going to move into a neighborhood that has a variety of people because I think we need to know each other.”

Carol Tyler:
I’d gone through diversity training through the Underground Railroad Freedom Center. And I was considered to be a modern day freedom conductor. And my task, I felt, was to live in a neighborhood where I could get to know African-Americans in a way that wasn’t stupid, pressurized, or artificial. So why not just grow food? I started a community garden and that’s how I got to know people. I turned my front yard into la place where people…

Carol Tyler:
… No people. I turned my front yard into like a place where people could come, and the currency was tomatoes. That meant that I could give this guy a tomato that I grew in the garden, and then next time I’d see him, he’s in the back of a squad car, but we could talk about how delicious that was, that tomato that time. It was almost like tomatoes were the currency and they smooth things out. We got to talking and we got to know each other. The kids were calling me the plant lady.

Carol Tyler:
It brought so many adventures, and I have loved living in this neighborhood, and getting to know people just through stupid thing like tomatoes, simple thing like that. I don’t want to say stupid. So when this guy said, “Do you want to do a strip?” I said, “Yeah, I want to talk about living in my neighborhood,” so the strips every week give a little slice of life about variety of things. Generally, around growing, but generally around being, and having very casual, but… It was really… Really been a sweet look at this life in a neighborhood.

Jim Thompson:
Whether it was corn or tomatoes or whatever you had growing in your garden, you would take it, and you would just sometimes just put it on the neighbor’s front porch or… I remember when I would go back to Duke to visit, because I was teaching from LA, but for Duke. I would go back and a professor’s wife would come in with eggs and just say, “Here’s a dozen eggs,” and hand them to you, and that’s a form of communication, and goodwill, and community. A lot of people wouldn’t understand, so I just think that’s great that you conveyed that.

Carol Tyler:
Yeah, I just wanted to show normalcy, because it’s always like African-Americans are depicted in such and such a way. Well, I don’t see that here, I just see a guy walking down the street or this one’s… Sometimes, yeah, this guy over here, he’s hollering out the window, or this one over here is doing this and that. But, these are not them and that, these are people, these are my neighbors. That is Mr. Keels, that is Jack, this is Gladys, that’s Gloria, this is Iris. These are real people, and they’ve lived beautiful full lives that have had difficulty. And so, I’m just going to talk about what we all have in common.

Jim Thompson:
I just want to say that we… Because we’re trying to cover everything, but I do want to acknowledge that you had some rough years during this process of doing the, You’ll Never Know, and that you lost your mom, you lost your sister, you lost your friend Rose, was it?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah, my neighbor down the street, that’s in Tomatoes. I call her Iris in the strip, but Rose, yeah.

Jim Thompson:
… That you had to put your dog to sleep, your house was robbed twice, you got a weird disease in Europe. While you’re doing the work of your life, the best work of your life, you’re also having to persevere through all of this that could crush you, and crush somebody, and I just wanted to acknowledge that. Then you get to 2016, and everything’s being acknowledged, the success of your book. And Alex, you’re going to take us through that particular year.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, there’s quite a few celebrations that year. I think five, maybe more, but you had a gallery show at the University of Cincinnati.

Carol Tyler:
Yes.

Alex Grand:
From what they’re quoting, “This exhibition serves as the purging of the past with fragments of past projects, objects from her past and her father’s workshop. In addition, we present a collection of artifacts from her life and studio practice, which provides a look into the mind and spirit that molds her vision of the world,” and you were the cover story in the Cincinnati CityBeat there, but can you explain what that means, what they were commenting on, and what they were showing of your stuff?

Carol Tyler:
Well, first of all, I showed every single page of the book, and I had it hanging on clotheslines in the gallery. When I met with the gallery guy, I said, “I’m not going to frame this, no way. Let’s just hang it up on clothesline, I like that. I’ve done that before in a couple of little shows, previous to this, I hung my stuff with pins.” And then he said, “Okay, so what are you going to do with that second room?” I said, “Second room? I thought you just had this room,” huge, big gallery space. “No, the adjoining room, we’re giving you that room too. It was like, “Yikes!”

Carol Tyler:
Okay, so right away, I thought, “Okay”. I just thought of a giant head. I got a piece of plywood and I cut out a giant… This face I always do with the ponytail. I took a piece of a charcoal. What’s that called? Vine charcoal. I drew the big head and the ponytail, but it had to get in the doorway, so I just use two sheets of plywood and where they came together, kind of through here, this part, I’ll put this on this side of the door, this side on that side of the door.

Carol Tyler:
I cut them out, so it’s like a giant cut-out of a head. And then what I put in there, it was… The artwork I’ve been working on, is for this next project I’m working on. What I had to date, some of the art that I did, some of the single-panel things, some narratives and sculpture, because I’ve been making three-dimensional comics. I started fooling around with that, and I love that. I spent like all that time on Soldier’s Heart, scanning and correcting. You spend 30 hours on a page and then 10 hours on Photoshop for each page.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, and it’s two dimensional space, just in that for a long time.

Carol Tyler:
So yeah, I was thinking up saw blades, and drawn pictures, telling stories, and as a… Love that. I had that stuff to show, I had things like… When my sister said she had cancer, she wanted to get her hair cut, before it fell out. I said, “Fine,” and I put these things in my hair and chopped it off, the chunks of my hair… And so, I put that on the wall until… And write in pencil, write on the wall, what that was, above the drawing I did.

Carol Tyler:
I always had this thing with my students, it’s like, “Are you stuck? Do a self portrait.” So, when I was so stuck with grief, when my sister died, I did a self portrait that is so sad, so I put that above the hair. There was three dimensional things with two dimensional things, all around the space. I had a facsimile of my dad’s work bench against the wall, and a bunch of stuff, pictures, drawings, a bunch of his crap that my brothers wanted to throw away, and I kept. My drawing table was there.

Carol Tyler:
You get this immersive feel that you were in the space, and then I had it set up like, here’s all this… This is inspiration over here. This over here, are different areas, where things were going on. If you could go in there… That’s why it became the inside of my mind [crosstalk 00:07:57].

Alex Grand:
Yes, it was Carol World.

Carol Tyler:
It was [inaudible 02:53:00]. It was really a bear to put together, but because it was at the college, we had a lot of student helpers…

Alex Grand:
Oh, good, there you go.

Carol Tyler:
… Who made it easy.

Alex Grand:
We mentioned you were the cover story in the Cincinnati Beat. Also, you spoke at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Art Museum, on the unique challenges of autobiographical storytelling set in real time with real characters. You also spoke at the Society of Illustrators.

Carol Tyler:
It was hard.

Alex Grand:
Why was that hard?

Carol Tyler:
I was with Tom Hart, he just wrote a book about losing his child, so I called it, “The crime tour.” We were supposed to tour and I couldn’t do it. I was so stressed out by that time, by everything, that it was starting to gang up on me, and I couldn’t… I had all these symptoms, I said, “Sorry, Tom. I just… It was too much,” and exhaustion had set in. You know, you talked about being strong or [inaudible 02:54:05] to crush somebody, it started to crush me in this year.

Alex Grand:
So, even though there was all these accolades, this year is actually kind of a stressful year.

Carol Tyler:
Oh, I was a wreck, and then I was within two… You could go like this and I’d… I was always this close to falling apart.

Alex Grand:
Very fragile, okay. Then also that same year you received the Cartoonist Studio Prize, from Slate book review, with fellow recipient, Sergio Aragones. You also accepted the Master Cartoonist Award from Cartoonist.[crosstalk 02:54:37]

Carol Tyler:
No, that one I got by myself. I shared Sergio with Master Cartoonist.

Alex Grand:
Oh, okay. Oh, yes, that’s right. Yeah, with Sergio, you accepted the Master Cartoonist Award, yes, from Cartoonist Crossroads Columbus. So it’s a lot, there’s a lot of celebration, a lot of focus on you, and a lot of eyes on you. It sounds like there was a feeling of recognition, but also stress and anxiety in a way. You mentioned symptoms, what were the symptoms?

Carol Tyler:
Well, I have tinnitus real bad, so it went from having one tone, to five. I had developed [inaudible 02:55:24] stomach during the Soldier’s Heart, [inaudible 02:55:29] You’ll Never Know, because you’re hunched over the drawing table. Stomach, stress-

Alex Grand:
[crosstalk 02:55:36] like hunching over, and it’s squishing your stomach in a way?

Carol Tyler:
Just… Come on. I’m almost 70 now. [crosstalk 02:55:47]

Alex Grand:
Okay. Musculoskeletal-

Carol Tyler:
“Oh, my neck. Oh, my back hurts. All this hurts, [crosstalk 00:10:53].”

Alex Grand:
Yeah, everything just starts to hurt with repetitive motion.

Carol Tyler:
And then when you’re stressed out, “This hurts worse. Oh, no this,” and whatever. It gets worse. My friend Rose used to say, “Carol, you’re stressed, go take a bath.” “Well, I don’t have a bathtub, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke.” “So, what are you going to do, Tyler?” And I’m out… I like to… I’m not a nature, I’m not a hiker. I like to just go outside, got a dog, go outside. It’s just everything got to me, and you’re thinking too much. I was paralyzed, I’ve been paralyzed until recently. I’ve been totally unable to function. But in that, came a great joy, Fab4 Mania.

Alex Grand:
Fab4 Mania, which Jim… Go ahead.

Jim Thompson:
All right, so let’s talk about that. That seemed almost like a pallet cleanser-

Carol Tyler:
Yes, excitement, joy, life.

Jim Thompson:
Such a departure now where [inaudible 00:02:57:03], after the last work were they just… Did they say, “Oh, this is lighter,” did they take it in a critical way? Because it’s not the same markets. It’s a very… I think you had to have this book. It would seem to me you couldn’t do anything else, because you had to-

Carol Tyler:
I had to, I had to. Beatle fans love it. People who know my work for the heavy stuff are like, “Oh, well, okay, she had to do a light thing.” No, it’s really good, [inaudible 02:57:39] right?

Jim Thompson:
[crosstalk 02:57:42] I have it, and you can’t see it because my optics are weird, but it says-

Alex Grand:
There’s a shroud of mystery over it.

Jim Thompson:
“To Jim. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Carol Tyler, Comic-Con 2018,” and it’s wonderful.

Carol Tyler:
It’s supposed to be… People read it and they go like… They get the feeling, they get the, “Ooh”, the lift. It is fun, it was written in my 13 year old self, from that perspective. It is exciting, it is so different. There’s no angst, nobody dies, nobody is in mourning, nobody’s in pain. It’s just fun.

Jim Thompson:
It made me smile without any kind of conflict, just an easy smile, that’s what it is. One thing that I will… Let’s talk… Structurally, it’s okay.

Carol Tyler:
It’s my Fab lipstick. Did I kiss your book?

Jim Thompson:
Yes, you did. Oh, there’s your lipstick right there. One thing about it is, it’s structurally [inaudible 00:13:48], let’s say two-thirds of it, is building up to the concert, and then there’s the… The last part is the actual concert.

Carol Tyler:
That account is considered by Beatles’ historians to be a primary account. Therefore, it has a place in the Canon of Beatles, Beatlemania history.

Jim Thompson:
I know that you thought maybe somebody would call you. Like Ringo might call you and say, “Hey, that was-”

Carol Tyler:
Oh, I wish he would. I wish that Paul or Ringo, or somebody would call. Why don’t they call? Why doesn’t Paul or Ringo, somebody call me?

Alex Grand:
Do you have to get anything like licensing agreement to make a comic about them?

Carol Tyler:
Oh, I did ask Gary about that, and he checked. I put , “Just because I wrote, ‘I feel fine,’ as a chapter head, that doesn’t mean I’m stealing your music, is it?” No.

Jim Thompson:
No, no. I think, you’re okay.

Carol Tyler:
I’m drawing your picture based on my… All the little… Half… A lot of the illustrations, you can tell the ones I did as a mature person, but those guitars and stuff that are in there that I drew, and the little stuff on… That’s all from when I was a kid. I drew, I made their life size guitars and stuff on brown paper with pastels, when I was 13.

Jim Thompson:
One thing I experienced, I had with it, was I had just recently, last week, I think, read Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang, and it’s about basketball, and his touring with his high school basketball team. They’re all that same age, they’re all young people, and they’re gearing up for the final state game, because they know they’re going to go to the state championships in Oakland. The last third of the book is the game and it’s… I was crying in excitement at that, and it was like, “I can’t believe you told a third of the book being that one thing and how it worked,” and then I thought back when I was preparing for this, and it’s the same thing. We’re waiting, and you’ve built it up, and then you so deliver in the concert. That was the trick, because if you didn’t, the whole thing was going to fall apart.

Carol Tyler:
I had to take you with me.

Jim Thompson:
Yeah, and you realize that. I wanted to say. The other thing I wanted to say is, let’s talk about lettering. I know you just were always a good… You had good penmanship and good lettering, but did you try to do this to look like when you were younger or… Because it’s such a part of the visual, as much as the art is, especially when you get toward the end. Is this part recreated, the concert in the red, in terms of-?

Carol Tyler:
Well, I wrote it in red pen, in cursive, in the original booklet, but the problem was, I wrote it on the page and then flipped the page over and wrote it on the back. For technical reasons only, I had to study and practice my 13 year old girl handwriting, and do it on separate pages so that it was print, so it was legible. But then throughout the early part of the book, where I’m just doing that, one of the things I’m learning from people is, a lot of people don’t read cursive very well, especially the young kids who are not being taught it in school, which I think is abhorrent, because how are they going to read journals and stuff, and the historical record? A lot of it is in script. Anyway, that’s my [crosstalk 03:02:52].

Jim Thompson:
In French immersion schools, they teach cursive from first grade on.

Carol Tyler:
It definitely should be in there.

Jim Thompson:
And it’s beautiful to see.

Carol Tyler:
So anyway, what I did was, I thought, “Okay, the people are going to be reading the cursive account of seeing the Beatles. I need to prepare the reader with the way I’ve laid down the text throughout the book,” so I started making the lettering. Sometimes it looks like it’s a little loopy and it leads. It’s got a little [inaudible 00:18:33]. In other words, I soften the harshness of lettering, almost like they do with the [Nillian 03:03:40] fonts, that, where you letter, but it starts to become cursive. So that by the time you get to the reading the cursive, I’ve prepared you with examples through that, the read of the early part of the book. I tried to make it easy for people.

Jim Thompson:
Oh, yeah, I know it’s great. Alex, what’s your favorite Beatles album? What’s your favorite Beatles song? Who’s your favorite Beatle?

Carol Tyler:
Here we go.

Alex Grand:
Well, that’s hard. Each one has its own story. Like the White Album is after they made their big splash, but they were kind of going to split, but I like what’s going on there, sort of more somber. Sgt. Pepper is like this big creative explosion, but-

Jim Thompson:
Lightning round, you got to say what album. [crosstalk 03:04:29]

Alex Grand:
I guess I like Rubber Soul, because they were just about to find a footing.

Jim Thompson:
I love Rubber Soul.

Alex Grand:
They were just about to find a footing, but they hadn’t quite yet. I think I like Rubber Soul the most.

Jim Thompson:
And favorite Beatle?

Alex Grand:
It used to be Lennon, but I think McCartney probably did most of the heavy lifting, so I think later on, McCartney became my favorite.

Jim Thompson:
Boo, but okay, that’s fair. I’ll do mine, could you get to close this with yours, because yours is more important, Carol. I would say, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, is my favorite song-

Carol Tyler:
That’s George.

Jim Thompson:
I know. I’m going to go with the White Album, because it’s the one I rode around in my MG Midget, with my eight track of the White Album ,and listen to it, seeing everything as loud as my voice could go. So, I’m going to do it for that purpose, not because of any intellectual thing. Lennon was gunned down on my dad’s birthday, and now it’s a day that is both… it marred it forever in some respects. So that’s mine. Yours?

Carol Tyler:
Me?

Jim Thompson:
Yep.

Carol Tyler:
I love them all equally, like my children.

Jim Thompson:
Ah.

Alex Grand:
Right, it’s hard to pick. It is like [crosstalk 03:05:54].

Jim Thompson:
It is hard.

Carol Tyler:
I will not say I love one any more than I love them all, and I loved all of the music.

Alex Grand:
Right.

Jim Thompson:
Okay.

Carol Tyler:
So you’re not going to get an answer from me.

Jim Thompson:
I can see. I was able to bully Alex into saying something, but I’m not even going to try with you. So, you took your palate cleanser, you got that, and it went to a happy place. What is the project that you’re doing now, that you’ve been alluding to?

Carol Tyler:
I am doing a book on mourning.

Jim Thompson:
Because of all the… Yes.

Carol Tyler:
It’s taking me into places I thought I would never go into. It’s departing from my standard. I’m having a good time. You would think with mourning, not, but…

Jim Thompson:
Did you say it was going to be in black and white?

Carol Tyler:
Yes, let’s see. Yes.

Alex Grand:
Oh, wow.

Jim Thompson:
Look at that.

Carol Tyler:
Yeah. I am… Got lots of pages here. [inaudible 03:07:23]

Jim Thompson:
Fantagraphics doing it?

Carol Tyler:
I guess.

Jim Thompson:
Oh.

Carol Tyler:
I tried my New York agent, and she said people were not in the mood for anything about death and mourning, and I thought, “COVID? Okay. Maybe, maybe not.” What it is, is it’s a three-part book, but I don’t think I’ll do it in three parts. It is unexamined. I don’t know how to talk about it, because it’s about coming to terms with the fact that… We were talking about the stress, coming to terms with the fact that I’ve been seriously affected the same way dad was by the war, I have PTSD. I have stress from seeing people drop dead, being there at their death beds, something I didn’t experience before. Watching people die, Rose, our kitchen floor, my mom, my dad. What? My sister. This was my circle of people.

Carol Tyler:
And not only that, but living people, crapped down on me. The people I thought I can depend on, crapped out. So I got to the point where there was, again, like I was in that strip with the baby. There was moments here, maybe that terrible year was part of it, where there was nobody I could turn to. My therapist quit, nobody I could talk to, no place to go. Where are you going to run to? So, I was here in this space with everything that happened.

Carol Tyler:
Then my daughter who’d moved out, was living with this guy I could not stand, a different guy from… when she was with [Erin 00:03:09:25]. She was with this guy who was from India, and it looked for a while, that she was going to be getting married and living there. And I was just like, “I would have nothing left, how would I ever access even my child?” We were so at odds, I didn’t even speak to her.

Carol Tyler:
One night I had a… It felt like… That’s why I have the head in two at the gallery, I felt like my head split open. It felt like when I spurred shears off on one side, I thought, “Oh my God, I’m having a stroke.” I got up, and I was walking through the house and I started to see that I was in a different world, and I started to see characters. I started to understand that something was being revealed, as having like a vision. I don’t know where it came from, but something happened in my brain, and I entered a different world and it has never happened to me before. I wasn’t afraid it’s just… It was like I had a big reveal, almost like I’d been on acid or something.

Carol Tyler:
This idea of telling the story of… I said, “Oh, okay, just tell the story.” It’s like, “No, I’m not telling the story. I’m not going to tell the story of these people that I loved. I’m not going to tell the story that way, the way you think. I’m coming here.” So, this place that my brain entered into, I came to figure out after months of asking the people who are revealing themselves to me, “Do you think I’m a cooc yet? They said, “No, this is Grief Ville, You’re in grief, this is Grief Ville.”

Carol Tyler:
And the guy who was saying, was go “This is Grief [inaudible 03:11:24].” I said, “Could you say… Why didn’t you just call it Grief Town? Would it be easier to say…” “You’re in Grief Ville, Grief Ville. Everybody comes here at one time.” So, then I started to look at grief and mourning, and how we don’t do it well in this country, we don’t do it well at all, how they do it in the past. I started examining my own emotional life in terms of that. What’s going on, the whole funerary [inaudible 00:26:55].

Carol Tyler:
I started to think about the toll, I started to think about the people, and then I went to, “You know what? If I’m going to tell their stories about how these people died, I ain’t telling it. I’m going to find some Grief Ville citizens to do that job for me.” So, I’ve been mining characters, I’ve been working through these steps, I’ve been setting things up. I’ve been ready for the end of the book, which I’m not even going to hint at, because it’s briefly crazy and wonderful. It made me feel like, “Now there, now you want to step up and be a storyteller, you watch.”

Jim Thompson:
I just have to say, I disagree with your agent for sure, because I can’t think of a book we could use more than that, right now. That’s what we need to do, and to understand it while we’re doing it.

Carol Tyler:
Even after we’ve come out of COVID, we’re not going to be done thinking about what happened.

Jim Thompson:
No, that’s exciting.

Carol Tyler:
[crosstalk 03:13:12] somehow has it together in terms of death and death rituals. No, we don’t have it, and our own mortality.

Jim Thompson:
So are we talking a year from now? I mean, in terms of release, do you think, a year?

Carol Tyler:
Yeah, because I think I’m done with the big reveals. I got the hunks of the book that I need, but you know what I’m having now , are clarification thoughts, like, “Okay, I think it’s best if you have this be here, and this be here, and this be here. I had that. Two years ago, I created the map of Grief Ville, which is this grand scale thing, it fits across a whole wall. It’s like, “Oh, shoot, now I can’t scan that. I’m going to have to break that down into pages if it’s going to fit in a book. Nobody likes my landscape formats, so I’ll have to go big. Is it going to be oversized? That means I’ve changed the scale of my lettering. There’s a lot of technical stuff like that. “Do people want to spend?” It’s going to be an expensive book, but it’s going to be this gigantic awesome thing. I’ve shown a couple of people just like, “Am I crazy? Is this on gear?” And they’re like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I like this.” [crosstalk 03:14:27].

Jim Thompson:
This is very exciting, because I have not read about the… I feel like we’re ahead of the game on this.

Carol Tyler:
I’ve been talking about it. See, here’s my house, two pages. Here’s one side, and here’s the other side. I explained this whole thing, because not too long after this [crosstalk 00:29:51], a man comes. [inaudible 00:29:56]. This whole story, this whole thing is, I went to black and white, because life and death. I also went to black and white, because we’ll talk about 2030 if it’s in color. It takes forever.

Carol Tyler:
So if I just do the black and white, maybe I can snap through it real quick. But I’ll tell you what, I’m learning more about black and white. I love black and white, I love working in black and white, I love what black and white is telling me again about marks and how to make marks, and how to do things the way I failed, maybe, to complete the last time. I’m really trying to get like, “Be a pen girl, come on, be a brush girl, just go black and white, do it,” and I’m enjoying that.

Jim Thompson:
Well, Alex, as a divorce lawyer, it’s time to go, or I’ll be getting a divorce,

Carol Tyler:
Oh, get done with that already. We could go on for hours, but we’re not going to. Oh, here you go. The title of the book is

Alex Grand:
The Ephemerata.

Carol Tyler:
The Ephemerata.

Jim Thompson:
I am so excited about this.

Carol Tyler:
It’ll be fun, especially that I’ve come up with a great hook for the ending. They are going to love it.

Alex Grand:
Now, that’s awesome, that’s cool. They’re going to love it.

Carol Tyler:
They are going to love it. Keep them people happy.

Alex Grand:
All right. Well, obviously this can go on for hours more, but we are going to keep an eye on your future projects. Carol Tyler. Thanks so much for joining Jim and I today, on the Comic Book Historians podcast. It was a truly esteemed pleasure. I’m so glad we could go to the bottom [crosstalk 03:17:01] line of your life and your career, and you’re very emotionally open and willing to discuss so much. Jim and I may travel there and visit, and if there are no horses I can ride on Jim’s back a while-

Carol Tyler:
There’s horses, we got horses, there’s cows, snakes, skunks.

Alex Grand:
Oh, cool.

Carol Tyler:
You’ll love it there.

Alex Grand:
Yeah, nice.

Jim Thompson:
You can ride me, Alex, anytime. You’re not heavy.

Alex Grand:
Okay, good, thanks. I’m going to get that sound bite, I’m going to use that later.

Carol Tyler:
You guys are great. This has been so much fun.

Alex Grand:
Oh, awesome.

Jim Thompson:
Thank you so much.

Alex Grand:
It was fun for us too. I’m grateful for your time, I know Jim is as well. Thank you again.

Carol Tyler:
So long.

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Use of images are not intended to infringe on copyright, but merely used for academic purpose.

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Interview © 2021 Comic Book Historians

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