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Jennifer Daydreamer: Q&A

Posted: Monday, January 19, 2004
Posted By: Tim O'Shea

Jennifer Daydreamer is about to see the release of her second volume of work through Top Shelf Productions, Jennifer Daydreamer: Anna & Eva. Before launching into the Q&A, hereís a little background (courtesy of Top Shelf) about the creator: ďJennifer Daydreamer was born in California and studied fine art at Long Beach State University, CA. She's drawn the eponymous mini-comic, Jennifer Daydreamer, for about six years, and has been four years writing her Encephelon series for Top Shelf. Her work has appeared in Top Shelf, Flying Saucer Attack, Bogus Dead, Zoomcranks, Destroy All Comics, and the Slide Show Rule 2003 comics slideshow. Her illustrations have appeared in the Seattle weekly newspaper, the Stranger for three years. 'I love people and drawing people. I am especially intrigued by French culture, please send me to France!'Ē

Tim OíShea: Who has had a greater influence on your work over time, Carl Jung or Joseph Campbell? As a person who's clearly studied both men's work, I was curious to know. Given that to a certain extent--thanks to a Police album of the early 1980s in Jung's case and Bill Moyers/PBS in Campbell's case--both have achieved pop culture/mainstream attention, which person's work has been most understood in the mainstream?

Jennifer Daydreamer: Probably Joseph Campbell has had a greater influence on my work. In some regards, he is a filtered version of Jung, since Campbell was so inspired by Jung. I think the study of symbols, meditating on picture symbols, and the exploration of my inner self, has the most significant influence on my story-telling. What Jung and Campbell have to offer the artist, is information. You take what you can from these guys, and then create your own myth, your own interpretations of 'how things work'. They are both great at lending the tools for experiencing comparative mythology. After reading them, it makes sense to go beyond the intellect, and explore one's intuition. Explore what they are saying about your insides, and test their theories, make your own myth.

Is Joseph Campbell misunderstood? I think Jung is controversial, the experts say he contradicted himself . I hear he muddles some of his ideas on spirituality. I don't know how to interpret him completely, as I haven't read all of his textbooks.(so take me with a grain of salt). Some people don't like how he waters down the idea of spirit, how the word 'psyche' replaces the word 'spirit.' Some people interpret him as a divider, whereby he adds a psychological state to an event. Once, I met a woman who has several shaman friends from Siberia. She hosts them here in the U.S. She told me that for a shaman, who believes in Spirit, a tree is a tree, in this reality and in non-ordinary reality (for clarity's sake, you can substitute the word 'afterlife' or 'other realities' for 'non-ordinary reality', not that its the same thing, who knows, but its kind of too much of a tangent to explain it here...), and Jung would confuse the issue by asking "Is the tree a creation of the mind, or a symbol of something else?" She thought Jung was full of shit, that he watered down the shaman's experience with his invention of psychology. I like Jung, though. I see him as a connector more than a divider, between modernity and shamanism. Also, I want to add, that I have read that indigenous shaman's do acknowledge the mind/spirit connection as to what they are seeing, but don't place such importance on it, the way Jung might do, inventing words like "numinous" . "Animism "could be an invention of word that serves to divide, when everything in existence could be described as "Spirit", which is a more encompassing word, even though they mean the same thing. Forgive me if this paragraph is a bit confused, itís kind of a loaded question for me. (and also I have been answering interviews all day, and itís cold from snowing!). In any case, I really appreciate and admire Campbell and Jung.

TO: Would you say your creative goals have shifted between issue 1 and 2?

JD: No, they haven't shifted at all. Which is interesting to think about. They have become more intensified, and clear.

TO: While your essay, Comics, Dreams, and Schizophrenia, has led you to a greater understanding of schizophrenia, personally, has it also led to helping members of your family understand it better?

JD: My family is very supportive, but the essay made them sad. It brought back painful memories, as they have lived through the experiences with my mom, and itís in the past. But I think it has helped others, who are dealing with the 'illness' in the present. The essay was posted on the website Successful Schizophrenia, and because of that, I have received several emails from people who said that my ideas on the 'illness' have really helped them or helped them to help their loved ones who suffer from it.

TO: What kind of influence has your father had on your art, particularly considering the cover to issue 1 was painted by him?

JD: Oh, he is great. He copies the old master paintings: Degas, Rembrandt, Renoir, Da Vinci, Titian, Vermeer, etc. He has done this for 40 years. He doesn't sell his paintings. Our family has hundreds of paintings. Since I was very little I admired his paintings, and he taught me how to paint in oils. I still use the paintbox he gave me when I was twelve. But, by the time I went to college, I was ready for, you know, some modern art.

TO: Do you get story ideas while painting at parties (a talent you offer to the public, as detailed here)?

JD: I get ideas from anywhere-everyday life. What the paintings do, is remind me how much I love to draw from real life, and studying the party people, helps with my cartooning, of course. Also, it gave me the confidence to draw with a pen, no penciling. I draw directly on canvas. AND when I am at the comic conventions, I love drawing people. By the way, you inferred in this interview that I can uhÖself promote? [SBC: Yep] Here is my shameless self-promotion. I was just talking about this with my friend Georgina last night and I told her I was wondering how other cartoonists are sent for free to other countries for conventions, etc. And she thought I should come up with some kind of service, like give lectures, ha ha. But I have one! I give people complimentary drawings of themselves at comic book conventions. The drawings are done in ink, no pencils, and they are rather speedy 5-10 minutes. So, ask me to be a special guest, you wonderful convention people! I want to go to Europe! I am poor, and never travel. But people love their portraits, and I enjoy drawing them because its great to study people at the cons, it keeps me from being bored, and I get some great drawing practice in.

TO: How often do your stories spin out of your dreams? Has it ever occurred that a dream was so horrific/disturbing for you, that you couldn't bear to put it into a story?

JD: Somehow, people think I draw my dreams, and I don't. Hmm, maybe its because we put a quote on the back of my book or because itís on the Internet, that I draw my dreams. ha ha, this is so funny, I have never drawn a dream. I study dreams, and their symbols, as to how they relate to waking life. I think drawing one of my dreams would be too literal for me.

TO: What else is on the creative horizon for 2004?

JD: I can't wait to get started on Jennifer Daydreamer #3. Itís going to be exciting, as I have 140 pages from #1 and #2, under my belt, and I have learned so much from them. The characters are more developed, and I know a lot that happens, I am also collaborating with my friend Jon on it. Itís entitled Jennifer Daydreamer #3 -Road Trip. And Jon is a great road tripper. Also, the book collection of woman from around the world entitled Scheherazade, edited by Megan Kelso, will be out at the end of 2004. I have a five-page story in it.

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