7 Questions: CAKE edition with comics creator Jon Drawdoer

Jon Drawdoer (photo courtesy of Drawdoer)

As we prepare to leave Pride and CAKE month (aka June) behind, let us take a look at some fabulously talented LGBT comic creators who were represented at the recent Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, which took place at Center on Halsted on June 11 and 12.

First in our weekly New Comics Wednesday series is Jon Drawdoer, "a queer cartoonist living in Chicago," according to his Tumblr. Drawdoer has written, drawn, and self published many comics since 2012, including Jesse Jackson, Be the Comics,,Mindfulness Comics 1 & 2, and the full-color psychedelic "hello." In addition, Drawdoer has been a CAKE event coordinator focused on sponsorship, mailings, administrative tasks, "staffing, proofing, and putting out fires," as he says. "As the show opened Saturday morning," he continues, "I was racing around the gym with my friend Amy Peltz distributing mylar balloons to exhibitors who had all-ages material."

I presented Drawdoer and other CAKE tablers with seven questions relevant to the expo and to comics culture at large. Why seven questions? Originally, I had planned to include the small groups' answers into one piece, and the weakest two questions would have been eliminated for a nice, even five questions to see the ceaseless flow of the internet. Instead, the responses I got were so thoughtful they stood on their own. That is how this series began, and after this gathering of CAKE-represented creators have taken a round of questions, I will find another group of LGBT creators and put forth a new set of seven questions. These creators include a number I met through my coverage of Token 3 and Chicago Zine Fest back in April.

Without further ado, the first in a series of responses to my queries:

1: How does your gender and sexual identity inform your work?

I like to tell stories about queer characters, and non-binary characters, but I guess it hasn't been a main feature of my work in the last year or so. It's always there, whether it's front and center or not.

I'm out about my queer or bisexual self as a creator so that readers have an idea where I'm coming from, the traditions I'm working in, and what side I'm on in the war — especially in areas of the Midwest outside the bubble of CAKE.

‘hello’ (image courtesy of Drawdoer)

2: What else inspires your work?

My comics about mindfulness are informed by Thich Nhat Hahn, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Pema Chodron, Ram Dass, and I meditate every day. If I'm quiet I can hear what I want to write about.

I listen to Prince a lot while I draw. I'm a constant, opinionated listener of Prince's music.

3: What was some exciting work you found at CAKE 2016?

Jonathan Bell Wolfe brought some books to CAKE that are just the most arty, emotionally honest, cool-looking comics. I admire his visual vocabulary and ideas about the page so much. I also read one by Matt Trower about his top surgery, Sit and Think About What You’ve Done, that I think is really memorable and well written.

Humans probably know all about the rest of the stuff I got that I like: Andy Burkholder, John Pham, Patrick Kyle, Gina Wynbrandt, that Koyama Press book about the artist who's been jailed twice in Japan for making art of her pussy. I like that one. (Gavin here: Drawdoer is referring to What Is Obscenity? The Story of a Good for Nothing Artist and her Pussy by Rokudenashiko.)

4: Once word of the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando became known, did you observe a change in CAKE on Sunday?

I think it's safe to say that attendance was down on Sunday at least partially as a result of the tragedy. Certainly, Pulse was a frequent topic of conversation. And there were dudes in flak jackets patrolling the Center on Halsted with automatic weapons, which I do not remember happening last year.

Drawdoer at his CAKE table (photo courtesy of Corinne Halbert)

5: What development coming out of your experience at CAKE are you looking forward to?

I'll be on board as a coordinator for the 2017 show much, much earlier in the year this year, so there are administrative and behind-the-scenes functions I'm looking forward to participating in for the first time. I'm also looking forward to building on all the stuff I learned as a show coordinator this year and working with the rest of the team on making a good CAKE in 2017.

Creatively: I asked my idols big, dumb, top-down questions this year, instead of acting like I know everything already, and the advice I got was incredibly useful.

6: Do you consider yourself an out geek, and if so, what makes you enjoy being a geek?

The last couple of years I've been a huge geek about pro wrestling, which as a young kid in Michigan was the primary expression of my gayness, so to reconsider that as an adult and make the subtext and sexual coyness overt is exciting. Also, I just like it, and I like that it's super unpopular and deeply uncool right now. I really enjoy my community of fans who are as obsessive as I am, and looking at it from a queer POV.

7: What's next in your body of work?

I'm building a real website for my comics, instead of just having a crappy Tumblr (LOL). Once I finish that, I can see myself diving into comics ideas that are really, really sexually explicit... Ones I've been like, “Oh, I'd feel weird throwing that up on somebody's Tumblr feed… I think they should be in the mood to go looking for this specifically."

But who knows? I'm always looking to see what people tell me or write to me about to get an idea what to make more of.

Mindfulness Comics 2 (image courtesy of Drawdoer)

Next week: Tony Breed

Gavin Rehfeldt's picture
on June 29, 2016

Native Chicagoan. Former comics slinger. Current comics reader. Bespectacled.