Lottie Pencheon’s entry in ShortBox #8 is Summer Break, a candid look at her experiences with depression in 2017, rendered in her signature round, cute style. We were able to do a short email interview with her and offer exclusive preview pages from this poignant book.
Kat Overland: How soon after the events depicted did you decide to create this comic? And did you already know at the on-set how personal you’d get in it?
Lottie Pencheon: i’d been ill for a while, throughout summer 2017 things started to get worse. i had some time off scheduled to go on holiday with family in september 2017 and thats sort of when i was at my lowest point. i’d thought that the holiday would make me feel better but it turned out it wasn’t that simple. after i came back from holiday i got my results back from the doctor and started receiving treatment. then in october 2017 zainab asked me if i’d like to make a comic for shortbox, of course i really really wanted to! i tried for a couple months to write all sorts of different comics but nothing felt right, i kept coming back to my own story about my ‘summer break’. i actually really resisted making this comic as i wanted to make something fun and entertaining for my shortbox debut haha but in the end i knew that this was what i had to work with. i’ve often made auto-bio comics which are quite personal, i usually make all the characters bunnys and cats and bears and things like that to make it more ambiguous but it just wasn’t working that way for ‘summer break’. i guess i didn’t really expect it to be as personal as it turned out but making it any other way (and i tried) didn’t feel good enough.
I really enjoyed the ways you differentiated the reality of nature versus the flat, fake-feeling nature in your illustrations. How do you determine how much stylization you want to impart on your work?
i guess for this comic i just knew that i had to try and depict the world around me as i was experiencing it at the time, so the times when i would disassociate things looked and felt different. a mountain really did look like a model from a train set and my head really did feel like it was 3 feet above my body, it frightened me and the memories are clear. so i already had the material to go off, i just drew things as i had seen them.
Speaking of stylization, I’ve never seen depression depicted quite so adorably, yet effectively! Can you tell me more about the two small Lotties fighting for your mental health in the book?
thank you! yes the two small lotties are kinda like the angel and the devil on your shoulder, i had this struggle within where one part of me was convinced that everything i was experiencing was fake and i had this other part of me who was really trying to keep my feet on the ground and fight back against those intrusive thoughts. it honestly felt like i was split into two sides and that one side, the ‘evil’ side was stronger and it was winning. i really like to draw fun ‘cartoony’ type comics where the characters bounce about and bop each other on the head and make sound effects and stuff and i found that i could use these ‘good’ and ‘bad’ thoughts i experienced to play with that style of cartooning. it’s kind of like comic relief.
Going through your portfolio, I realized that many of your projects exist as small batches of printed work, Riso prints, etc. Is there something about print work you’re interested in over digital formats?
i just love comics as objects i guess, i like having them, i like making them, i like when people buy them from me at a zine fair and take them to their homes and share them with others. i like turning pages, i like that when u print a comic at a specific size, that’s just the size that it is, there’s no zooming in or whatever it’s just designed to be enjoyed as it is. anyway my drawings just always look better when they’re printed at the size they were created to be and i haven’t mastered digital publishing yet haha.
Aside from Summer Break, do you have any projects coming up?
i just finished off making a t-shirt ( which u can buy here http://lottiepencheon.
Sales for ShortBox #8 close on April 27th, so nab yours ASAP!