Short List – pip_odyssey – Sophie Ell

Disclosure – I am currently working with pip_odyssey on an anthology planned to release in June.



ZL – Why and when did you start making comics?

SE – I’ve been a fan of illustrated books since I was a little kid, and that never went away, but it wasn’t until pretty recently that my own random doodles and drawings started taking shape. I am currently working on a PhD in American Studies, and to be honest, making comics is simply a way to stay sane in the face of the hyper-cerebral academic overload. About two years ago a good friend handed me a high quality (i.e. expensive) drawing pad and said, fill her up! I don’t think I would have bought such a thing for myself. So I did, fill her up. Now I do it somewhat compulsively, as a way to counter the dreariness of grad school while also exorcising some demons. It became a ritual; a panel a day keeps despair at bay.


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ZL – Do you remember the first time?

SE – The first graphic novel I got seriously hooked on was Transmetropolitan. I fell in love with the character, I was thrilled by Warren Ellis’ bold social and political commentary, but probably most of all I was blown away by Darick Robertson’s artwork, the shifting perspectives, the composition, the careful attention to every little detail. Every panel vibrating with so much energy. Incredible.

ZL – Given an unlimited budget and all the time in the world, what would be the project you’d make to be remembered by?

SE – For me, making art has nothing to do with budget or time. In fact, I often find that my best work comes out of constraints, out of lack, out of not having enough money, time, space, or energy. Creativity needs to push against something, it thrives on contradictions and polarities, it comes alive when the conditions are not optimal. I have no doubt that amazing art is being created every day in prisons, hospitals, and mental health institutions, probably much better than the stuff generated in the studios of fine art academies. The other secret to my own process is not having a project in mind. I cannot plan, I must trust the logic of the moment, which is always in flux. Every day it’s something else that wants to manifest visually on a blank page. I try to tune into what feels most urgent right now, and let things unfold on their own. Then, later, I can see themes and threads that either come together or not, and that’s an exciting process of discovery.

Consumer Culture

ZL – You’re currently working on a graphic novel, what are your hopes and aims whilst working on it?

SE – The graphic novel I am working on is a growing collection of ideas, memories, observations, and feelings that are all pieces in a bigger puzzle.  My only aim is to keep going and stay out of the way, if that makes sense. I would like the collection to reflect the fact that the puzzle may never be complete.


ZL – Which one creator you love seeing do you feel the world knows too little about, and what would you like to tell us about them?

SE – I have a big list of visual artists and musicians I want to tell the whole world about. Look at this! Listen to that!! But today, in this moment, if I had to choose just one, it would be the Swedish band Goat .

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