MRR Comics & Art Issue Artist Q&A with Laura PallMall
What are your main publishing projects?
I’ve done a lot of punk merch type stuff—record covers and shirt designs and all that, and a ton of flyers. I also run a label/press called Nothing Left to Learn. I do zines by punks whether or not the zines themselves have anything to do with punk. I’ve been the only person who’s released anything so far but there’re some new people coming into the mix doing things in a lot of different kinds of media, from essays to poetry to collage and comics. There’s a website at nothinglefttolearn.org.
What are some comic artists you’re influenced by?
I am not really sure I have influences in comics. I don’t even really read comics other than ones my friends send me as zine trades. Actually I’ve read like two graphic novels too. Blankets was pretty cool. I read the Watchmen twice because the first time around I didn’t understand why anyone would think it is so good, and, yeah, I still have no clue.
The Dicks, the Ramones, and X are probably my three favorite punk bands, and I like oldies. Other than that, I am into anything that I consider to be “free” and not wedded to any kind of pose. I am a punk to the point that I do not like the Cro-Mags or any kind of “hardcore” but I think that band Turnstile is doing something really beautiful by incorporating 1990s/2000s radio alt rock into their music. I think a lot of punk is like this Obscurity Olympics and bands will be like, “We are a mix of this Japanese band that released one flexi and this band that only had songs in this rare comp,” or whatever, and that’s really cool and it’s music I like, but it’s really refreshing to see a band that is like, “Yo, we’re gonna sound kind of like 311 and be sincere about it and have a lot of fun.” Also some of the weirder rap from Atlanta, like Young Thug and OG Maco. It’s not just gangsters in the streets — there’re freaks too and they’ll call each other hubby and act like heavy metal stars even though everyone calls them gay. That’s really cool to me.
How would you describe your style of drawing?
It’s just pen-and-ink stuff with varying amounts of detail. There is a lot of stuff I want to say visually but I am very limited from a technical standpoint, so I just do what I can and the style just kind of developed out of my “process.” I didn’t start drawing until a couple years ago and I was too impatient to ever learn how to do it properly, so what I do is draw things separately and then collage them together (either digitally or manually). I like to take the subconscious and inside jokes that pop culture references, and daily life and all the other things that go through a brain, and put them all together in the same room, so lots of times my drawings come off as really absurd but I don’t usually mean for them to be… If there is a theme to my work, it’s how our relationships and affiliations sometimes make us complicit in some pretty wacky stuff.
What other punk projects are you involved with?
I don’t know. I’ve booked a fest, put out a record, fronted a band, run a distro… pretty much anything a punk can do. At the same time I’ve been a part of punk for a while and there seems to be a recurring theme of idealistic people getting their hearts broken by people who will compromise all politics and morals and friendships to be the center of attention at a good party. I will continue being a punk by listening to punk and doing whatever I want and making sure that what I do is done the right way so that I don’t ever have to defend or justify myself to anyone. I just don’t want to be a part of the punk scene anymore.
What’s in the future for you as a cartoonist/artist?
I hate that such a small number of punks are responsible for so much of the visual language and style of punk, I think that’s really toxic to the creative culture. So I recently retired from doing punk commission work. I’m focusing on making more zines and doing illustration stuff outside of it — I think that there are a lot of great and very talented people in punk and I kind of want them to make more of an impact on the visual language of the regular world, instead of being limited by the expectations or demands of our little bubble. It’s such a small bubble that I think sometimes people lose sight of what they’re doing and just start producing work to feed the bubble instead of challenging themselves in any way. I’m doing some freelance work for businesses and organizations as varied as espresso pop-up shops and UNICEF. I’m still going to draw for punk but if you see any of my work on punk shirts or whatever going forward, it’ll be because I have some sort of personal connection to the music, whether that is through friendship or a love of the songs.
Check out more from Laura at laurapallmall.storenvy.com.