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February 12, 2014

Valentine’s Day: ‘Alone Forever’ comic finds humor in heartbreak

Posted in: Books,Comics

If you find yourself among the lovelorn this Valentine’s Day, Liz Prince’s graphic novel “Alone Forever: The Singles Collection” might prove a perfect remedy.

“Alone Forever,” out this month from Top Shelf Productions, collects 104 pages of Prince’s autobiographical comic strip — a self-deprecating look at relationships, love and the lack thereof. The Boston-based comics creator chronicles her experiences with online dating, awkward first encounters and (questionably) flirty interactions with bearded strangers, not to mention tender moments with her constant true loves — her cats and her punk rock music.

Prince, whose previous titles include the Ignatz Award-winning “Will You Still Love Me If I Wet The Bed?” and “Delayed Replays,” will be in the Los Angeles area on Sunday for L.A. Zine Fest at Helms Bakery in Culver City.

Hero Complex: How did this project come about? I understand it was a webcomic before it was a book? Did you make any changes for print?

A page from "Alone Forever" by Liz Prince. (Top Shelf Productions)

A page from “Alone Forever” by Liz Prince. (Top Shelf Productions)

Liz Prince: I have made a career out of drawing comics about relationships, so drawing comics about the lack of a relationship seemed like a logical leap. I was posting “Alone Forever” comics on my website for three years, and had made two self-published versions, before it became a book for Top Shelf. The great thing about posting comics online is that you can abandon a strict format and draw a comic in whatever style you see fit; long, short, color, black and white, it all fits on a computer screen. But turning those comics into a format that fit into a book was a little difficult. I had to trim some comics to make them fit on the printed page, but I also added several new strips, including a comic-essay about all of the OK Cupid dates I’ve ever gone on.

HC: A lot of your work is autobiographical. Does writing and drawing about your life affect the way you live it? And how does drawing what you live color the lens through which you view your experiences?

LP: I’ve been drawing autobio comics since I was in early high school, so if it does affect the way I live my life, or change the way I view my experiences, it’s become such an ingrained part of my existence that I don’t notice anymore! That being said, I can tell instantly if something that happens to me will become a comic, because I will see it played out in panels. A lot of my memories take that form now, actually; if it wasn’t a comic to begin with, once it gets in my head it is!

HC: Why did you decide to depict your love life? Your experiences with meeting people and dating and online dating are so relatable.

LP: Mostly because those stories are so relatable. Autobiography, and especially autobiography that tackles the never-ending issues of human relationships, are my favorites to read, so they are my favorite to draw as well. It was startling at first, when my book “Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed?” (a comic about my first serious relationship) came out, so many people were writing to me saying that my relationship was exactly like theirs. Many asked if I had cameras in their bedrooms. That was when I realized that even things that are so intensely personal, like having armpits that smell like celery, can connect you with someone else.

A page from "Alone Forever" by Liz Prince. (Top Shelf Productions)

A page from “Alone Forever” by Liz Prince. (Top Shelf Productions)

HC: The self-deprecating humor throughout the book is tempered by a healthy dose of self-respect. For example, I love the comic with the Ramones button conversation starter. Is that a difficult balance to maintain?

LP: I think the key to being a successful autobio cartoonist is to never take yourself too seriously. I know there are some genuinely sad comics in “Alone Forever,” but the other side of the coin is when you get to tell a potential suitor to kick rocks, because who doesn’t love the Ramones?!  I mean, C’MON.

HC: What do you like best: Cats, punk rock or boys with beards?

LP: You can’t make me choose!  I routinely spend my days with all three: my cats, Wolfman and Dracula, will hang out while my bearded boyfriend and I listen to punk records.

HC: Is there a particular page or story you’re most proud of?

LP: It’s hard to choose just one, since they are all my babies, but I still get a chuckle out of the comic about eating a lot of garlic and scaring away potential vampire suitors, because it features my (not-so) secret love of “Twilight” with an appearance by Count Chocula, who I’ve also been a very vocal advocate of.  Count Chocula for President, 2016.

HC: Anything else you’d like to add?

LP: I will be at L.A. Zine Fest on Sunday, Feb. 16, so please come out and say hello, and check out “Alone Forever: The Singles Collection” in person.

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark | Google+


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