What inspires you?
I feel really lucky to be friends with a lot of people who are doing really amazing things in fields that wildly different from each other. Some of them make comics, some are mathematicians, social psychologists, journalists, comedians or performance artists.
Learning new things from people who are passionate about what they do and are making waves around them is inspiring. They make me want to work harder at my own projects.
What is one tool of your trade that you couldn’t give up?
I am in love with my Platinum Carbon Desk Fountain Pen. It’s this Japanese fountain pen which takes cartridges of ink that is waterproof but that doesn’t clog, something which is almost impossible to find. When I go out sketching I use that pen along with a waterbrush pen filled with inkwash. Those two tools and some kind of paper to draw on are all I need to keep myself busy and happy.
Where do you work best?
When I lived in Brooklyn, I shared a 300 square foot studio space with five other cartoonists. We called it Pizza Island and it was the highlight in my history of workspaces.
Cartooning can be really isolating, so having a community of artists around you is a must if you want to stay healthy. If you’re lucky enough to actually share the same room with some of them, its ideal. We each did very different kinds of comics, so when we shared our work with each other, we were getting feedback from fresh eyes. That was important for me when I was working on my first pieces of comics journalism. I wanted to make sure that my work was clear and interesting to someone who was not already well versed in refugee issues or international journalism.
These days I’ve been traveling a lot while I work on my next book, so I make a studio wherever I can. I’m writing this from a friend’s apartment in Buenos Aires where I’ll be working for the next month. Its a little cramped but we have unlimited coffee and I can buy Alfajores (these amazing Argentinian snacks) whenever I need a boost.
How did you get into this line of work?
I was about 26 when I started making comics, and the work I was doing was autobio/memoir. At that same time, some journalist friends of mine started a non-profit multimedia journalism collective (the Common Language Project) with a focus on both local and international reporting. I thought what they were doing sounded interesting and important, so I asked them if I could accompany them on one of their reporting trips and make a comic about what they did. They were really into the idea, and so a few years later, after I finished my first book, I went with them and documented their process during a two month reporting trip to Iraq and Syria.
Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with journalism (OK, it was about day one), and by the time I got back I was not only ready to start working on my [next] book, but I felt ready enough as a newly-formed journalist to work on other short comics journalism pieces of my own.
Sarah Glidden’s first full-length book, a graphic-memoir entitled How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, was published in 2010 by DC Vertigo. She is currently working on her second book, a work of graphic journalism following reporters into Iraqi Kurdistan, Lebanon and Syria. Her short pieces of graphic journalism have been published on Cartoon Movement, Ha’aretz, and the Jewish Quarterly. You can find more of her work at sarahglidden.com.