moseys along the road of alternative comics
By Matt Kelly
Sorensen is slowly making a name for herself in the world of alternative
comics, which is appropriate for a woman who describes herself
as a slowpoke.
is the name of her four-panel weekly comic strip that appears
in Richmonds Punchline and is under consideration by several
which Sorensen named after her philosophy of life rather than
a character in the strip, is populated by Mr. Perkins, who is
a prim and proper gent, possibly English, with a large, phallic
head; Little Gus, a young man constantly searching for answers;
and Drooly Julie, a trench-coat wearing modern girl stalking heavy-metal
a night supervisor at Clemons
Library, said, While Im certainly a moseyer on
my own time, I do try to move at an appropriate speed when at
work. In fact, I can move with surprising alacrity when necessary.
at the end of the semester, Sorensen will start working on Web
development for the new Center for Religion and Democracy in Cabell
a child, she drew her own comics patterned after the Walt Disney
comics she collected and still has. The Lancaster, Pa., native
cited the work of the late Carl Barks, who drew Disneys
Donald Duck comic books from 1942 to 1966, as her inspiration.
solitary child, Sorensen spent her days drawing adventure stories
patterned after Barks duck stories.
she grew, Sorensen got away from the adventure narrative. In high
school, she drew caricatures for the yearbook and later, at U.Va.,
she was graphics editor at the University Journal, and contributed
illustrations to The Declaration and several other publications
Dyer, a Staten Island, N.Y., resident who works in the alternative
comics industry, saw Sorensens work in some U.Va. materials
and approached her about contributing to Action Girl,
a collection of work by female cartoonists. This appealed to Sorensen,
who graduated in 1996 with a degree in anthropology. She had considered
graduate school, but decided she would like to try her hand at
cartooning for a while.
this, she generated a 24-page book, Slowpoke Comix #1, published
in November 1998, which she described as surreal and whimsical.
She financed the 3,000 issue press run, distributed by Alternative
Comics of Gainesville, Fla. She said she sold about 1,700 issues,
which allowed her to recoup the cost of production and show a
I get reorders, I may have a second press run, she said.
the comic book as a springboard, she launched the weekly strip,
which was picked up by Richmonds Punchline. She actively
markets the strip and said that there are some other publications,
some as far afield as Alaska, that are looking at taking it on.
Her work has run nationally in Funny Times magazine, a tabloid-size,
newsprint magazine of illustrated humor.
is also releasing a new book in May, Pompous Café, a collection
of the weekly strips in a 64-page, 8-by-8 inch, square-bound book.
Sorensen said it would be available at local comic book stores
as well as at Amazon.com.
production costs of this book are covered by a 2000 Xeric grant
she received last year from a foundation that awards money twice
a year to independent cartoonists and artists. The foundation
was developed by Peter A. Laird, one of the co-creators of the
Mutant Ninja Turtles to assist independent comics artists and
also illustrated a two-page section in The Big Book of the
70s, published by Paradox Press, a division of DC
Comics, one of the big names in the comic book industry.
that gives her a small foot in the door, Sorensen does not see
herself working for the large comic publishers, where the style
of art is more well-muscled superhero models. She prefers the
realm of the alternative comics.
think its like making independent films, where you have
the freedom to create something intelligent, something with a
certain humorous angle, she said.
My dream would be to be set up in enough papers to make
a living, she said. Meanwhile she works at jobs that allow
her time in the morning, her most creative time, to work on her
not a morning person, but I like to have a couple of hours to
do my work, she said.
see myself doing something like [the Web development job] alongside
the strip, she said because doing a daily strip would be
too demanding and it would consume her life. But drawing
comics will always be a part of my life.
works from a notebook where she jots down and refines ideas, not
drawing until the story idea has been worked out. She prefers
to work with no deadlines, but manages to get her weekly strip
into Punchline under the wire. Last-minute filing is easier with
modern technology. She draws and letters the cartoons by hand,
then scans them into the computer and transmits the images to
said she would like to get a week or two ahead, but sometimes
enjoys the option of being topical.
rare that I explicitly state anything, she said, though
she admits that she makes fun of President George W. Bush. She
said she has not had a strip pulled because of content.
are times when I will criticize the harried capitalistic culture,
she said, pointing specifically to a strip in which a blob of
Snooze Ooze mellowed out rushed executives and made them slow
she does not translate many of her personal philosophies into
Sorensen, modern life has developed a pace that has become unsustainable
and unpleasant. She said while she is fond of computers and some
technology, she does not understand how people can cope with the
speed of modern life. She does not understand how local people
can commute to Washington and she herself refuses to drive on
the beltway because of the volume and speed of traffic. She lives
within a 10-minute walk from her regular job, and her studio is
set up in her bedroom, so she does not go far to cartoon in the
tend to be a slowpoke, she said. I dont like
to drive fast. I dont like to do things in a big rush.
After Hours is a feature section exploring the noteworthy
non-work pursuits of U.Va. faculty and staff. Please submit nominations
for future columns to firstname.lastname@example.org.