Interview w/ Carol Lay • Comic Artist, “Way Lay”

SM: If you were to draw a rocket ship, what would you be sure to include in the portrait?

CL: There are two basic types of cartoon spaceship: the phallic arrow-like shape with three of four pointed support stands, and the female donut with a dome, which might have retractable landing gear. I would be sure to add portholes because an actual view is essential to human comfort while traveling through space.

SM: What is something you would like people to know about you?

CL: I am doing the hokey pokey and I am turning myself around.

SM: Why did they kick the devil out of comic strip heaven?

CL: Did they? Their loss. The devil keeps things interesting. I suppose everyone has the right to set boundaries, though.

SM: Besides yourself, what’s the best thing to come out of your hometown?

CL: I grew up in several Southern California towns, all pretty much next door to each other. I spent my first six years in Whittier (Nixon — not good), moved to La Habra (can’t think of a single good thing that came out of there), high schooled in Fullerton (Jackson Browne was a few years ahead of me, grade-wise, but I don’t care about his work and I hear he beat his wife). If you think Disneyland is a good thing, then that “came out of” the area, but my favorite artist who grew up in Orange County may be Steve Martin.

SM: Please create, describe and give a name befitting a magical creature for you to ride around on.

CL: The Manta Bat is shaped something like a Manta Ray. She can fly in the air as well as underwater. For the least resistance to air and water, I lie flat on her back. I don’t have to wear protective gear because she has a “cloaking” ability that protects me from the elements. She’s vegetarian. Any backyard pool or nearby reservoir can shelter her at night as she has the ability to breathe both water and air. She also hums or purrs when she’s happy, like a cat. The vibrations from her purring relax the rider (me), but not to the point of narcosis. We would bond spiritually at the instant we meet, and she would have a long and pleasant life.

SM: Please indulge us with an anecdote.

CL: I was visiting NY when my “house sitter” burned down my apartment in LA. I tied one on for several days, because I didn’t want to go home and face the pain. Robert Crumb was in town for the Zap reunion at Psychedelic Solution, and was staying at Al Goldstein’s pied a terre in the Village. I showed him my Good Girls #4 comic that had just come out in which a comics muse upends my life and starts a fire in my apartment. He told me you have to be careful what you put on paper because it’s a mind-over-matter thing; if you put a lot of energy into drawing something it will likely come true. He paused and then said, “That’s why I draw all my sexual fantasies.”

SM: If animals doubled as canvas for art, what animal would you like to paint on?

CL: My ego calls out for the largest animal, the Blue Whale, but my respect for the animals won’t let me indulge that fantasy for long. I don’t care how meaningful the art is, there is no justification for using the creature. How does that jibe with my Manta Bat fantasy? The first is pure fiction, and the Manta Bat loves to fly, swim, and enjoy those activities with its human soul mate. The real animal should be respected. My possible but improbable dream is to see one of these stupendous creatures in nature. The last thing it needs is the insult of “art” on it’s body.

SM: When was the last time you yelled really loud in public?

CL: Maybe twelve years ago I witnessed a parking rage incident between upper-income women, right before Xmas when everyone in LA is on edge in their cars. When one of these “ladies” started scrawling Bitch with her key on the hood of the other offender’s car, I yelled “HEY! STOP THAT!” People looked at me like I was crazy — I guess you’re not supposed to interfere when spoiled women behave badly.

SM: What is your first reaction to a silent grove of trees?

CL: Appreciation. I loved living across from Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The trees blow off colorful leaves in the fall, transform into miracles in the spring, and hide the noisy cicadas in the summer. I like the word “copse”.

SM: Please compose a brief poem or haiku on the subject of your choosing.

I don’t want to.
I’d rather speak Bantu.

Next Article

Interview w/ Maria Bamford