Features Interview Latest Rebecca Roher Sloane Leong

"What's your secret?": Sloane Leong talks to Rebecca Roher

"What's your secret?": Sloane Leong talks to Rebecca Roher

In the course of the month-to-month residence of Maison de Auteurs in Angouleme, France, I made a decision to share as a lot work as potential with the residents. My first interview is a comic e-book, illustrator and instructor Rebecca Roher. His work has been revealed by Nib, Bitch Media, New York Occasions Now, GUTS Canadian Feminist, Seven Days Alt-Weelky, Image, Media Co-op and Briarpatch. We met after MdA's day by day group lunch to speak about his newest work.

Sloane Leong: The first thing I am going to ask is what you do and what you probably did

Rebecca Roher: I work on a undertaking referred to as the 100-year-old wisdom that I interviewed for almost 100 years of their lengthy life, its historical past and life at present are opening up. I do cartoons based mostly on interviews. It is framed as if I used to be a fictional tv publication. I really like the reporter's voice, you realize, "Hey, I have reported mass of living,"

[ Chuckles ] yeah.

I feel it's a very humorous and good means to limit it And in addition, I was really inspired by the videos you see from journalists visiting previous individuals on their hundredth birthday and asking, "What is your secret long-lasting?" and 100 years of age are: "I eat oatmeal every day and stayed out of the people."

[ Laughter ].

Or you realize, such things


introduced the venture at first solely by interviewing the women I considered obtaining wisdom sensible ladies, and you understand how ladies's roles and rights in society have modified a lot during the last hundred years, so I am notably occupied with ladies's experiences. But once I did the undertaking, I just couldn’t deny making interviews with the lads, they’ve their own superb story and it makes the challenge extra inclusive and engaging to a wider audience. so I expanded it to men and women and I am very completely satisfied. Certainly, there are extra ladies than one hundred years of age than men statistically, so it's in all probability principally ladies

Yeah, why not

Yeah, yeah So, I'm doing proper now, they are brief cartoons about three to five pages, and some of them rise to Popula and I might also like to gather them in a guide.

Very cool.


. And, like, what did you speak about – what motivates you to take this type of challenge into this theme?

Nicely, as I stated, this is the thought of ​​gathering knowledge from the aged, loving these enjoyable interviews, and I – once I wrote the graphic novel Fowl in a Cage, which is my grandmother and her descent to dementia. She lived in previous age at residence and would go to her and keep in mind my mother pointed out this lady, Rose, who was 100. For my part, someone had a hundred years previous, it appeared magical that someone has lived so lengthy, and I feel they’ve to, even if they don’t seem to be really conversant in their own secret to his lengthy life, has completed something proper, or I'm just curious as to what it’s. And once I noticed these videos I assumed, "I can do it, I can be a reporter." I like this absurduudesta the truth that I am not a journalist, and I do not likely know what I'm doing – I simply describe it for your self. For my part, comics are an excellent type of telling these stories because they will doc history and stories properly, but in addition my perception and my opinion and its design seem obvious, so I attempt to be pregnant by hand


Because I’m undoubtedly reduce things. I'm making an attempt to be as real as I have, and I'll take it critically. But I undoubtedly weaving stories and approach – to do it –


Uniform cartoon, yes.

Hm, it was fascinating to me as a result of I used to be like as many shades as you may take such a comic. As I feel, if I did one thing like this, it will be really sad [ snigger ].


When you’ve approached it with a humorous and lightweight contact.

But I really like this thing with the aged – it's a fun and sad stability, because our feelings are so elevated if you think of the aged, as you consider dying, you think of your grandmother, grandfather and the way we all age and [groans] like, It's so – it has so many feelings, however there are such a lot of fun issues to do, so many enjoyable ways to speak and a bit anecdotes, they usually've been creating jokes all their life. And with my grandmother and her dementia – a part of the rationale I needed to do that ebook was additionally a enjoyable and unhappy pressure. She was confused as soon as and put the wine within the milk jar and put it on the table as if it have been water and it’s such a wierd joke that can also be unhappy however its absurdity, I actually prefer it. And I feel, because our hearts already exist, it’s troublesome to influence this pressure

Yeah, and I respect you want this voice because it's really easy that it's identical to the damaging elements, however I like how your fashion and met it is – like, it's is gloomy, however it is simply as constructive, their lives have been as wealthy, they have all these stories, I actually recognize it.

No –

Like their secret [ laughs ].

So, what are their secrets? What are they doing? Don't everybody need to know the secrets?

[ Laughs ]

I imply, it definitely isn't only one thing. I feel genetics is an enormous thing, lively staying is large and dwelling properly. I don't assume you actually have to eat healthy, as such, as religiously healthy, however you realize that stability is necessary and – however I feel it's more necessary to drive and keenness and spirit. Like, in case you have one thing to reside with, just drive on to it. When individuals go down, it’s as a result of they lost somebody or they fell and broke their hips and then the ache and restoration are an excessive amount of to proceed. Typically it’s like some type of factor that happens that makes them lose their lives and then they fall. I don't assume it is a acutely aware thing, however greater than an individual who all the time keeps busy and all the time volunteers and all the time needs to do all the things himself and they’re just cussed. These are people who reside for a long time, or people who have love who – they feel they want to be, they want to be there. But you understand that regardless that this pricey man dies, they will still be very cussed and need to discover different dwelling issues because it is the sort of individual they’re.

Fascinating. I have met a 96-year-old man, who had a poor well being in her family, she was a sort of unfavorable, and his spouse was lifeless – who is aware of why he lives so long. And it is a thriller that’s sort of neat we don't know. Nevertheless, I am undoubtedly also learn studies that recommend that social interplay is a large thing. Taking individuals with whom you make eye contact and talking every single day, I feel this can lead to happiness and feelings that unite and do every part.

It's cool.

And the individuals I converse to – I search individuals with social connections and – typically I’m going via organizations and things, however – the individuals I discover are individuals. They’ve somebody who takes care of them and that they typically see it.

How do you strategy these aged individuals? What is your means of looking for them, akin to, do you come to the interview sort understanding the points you need to speak about? What is your process?

Properly, I'm really going to managers. I make a name to social media in sure cities, especially in cities the place I would like to both go or know someone who can put me up or they will name their group. Really, I'm going via my contacts, and by the best way, I also contact the town centers and non secular centers and houses for the elderly who want to discover individuals to do the interviews. Once I went to London a number of months ago, I sent thirty synagogues and two of them returned to me. One among them has come via interview subjects. So it's loads of legwork. Passing via the facilities is harder because individuals are suspicious so that a stranger can speak to the aged, there are various older abuses and they are a really weak a part of society and who am I? They don't have to trust me.

Proper, right.

So I have in some instances acquired my Rabbi within the synagogue in Toronto to ship a reference letter through which I can put individuals's thoughts comfortable, especially if they are working on behalf of the organization, if they’re going to join me to individuals. Basically, if I’m going by means of a corporation, I say I favor to have a family member there for everybody's peace of mind, but in addition to help with reminiscences and such issues. A type of enjoyable method – or an unusual means to discover somebody once – I was in London and went to this group middle, simply walked to ask if they’ve anyone over ninety who visited there and this lady was very useful and stated, "Come back tomorrow, there is 93 years old a woman who comes here for lunch. " And I arrived late as a result of I had earlier plans at the moment, but I tried anyway, and the opposite lady was at a table that was less useful than “who are you? Oh, that lady just isn’t here, higher to depart. “He tried to get me out of the door. And so I went out and was just ready for it – sitting in a restaurant, right subsequent to the door, or close to the center of the group, "oh, man, I missed my chance, what a traitor." And this lady got here out with two rods and I assumed, "Oh, maybe it's her", and I approached her – it was slightly impolite – I was like "how old are you?"

[ Laughter ] Are you a hundred?

Are you 93 years previous? [Laughter] And he thought it was enjoyable and he agreed to hold the coffee with me and we went over the street and he was so fantastic and actually hit it and he actually asked me, "Why am I telling you this thing?" [Leong laughs] are you once more? ”And he made me write my e-book of data and it was a neat method to find somebody as a result of he has no youngsters – you typically meet previous ladies because they're a grandmother again, however there are various previous ladies who are by no means married, and I've met a couple of. they decided to get a profession with family, or they by no means met someone with whom they needed to quiet down, and it isn’t a story that we hear so much. So, his story was really fascinating, then, but I'm all the time better to get a visible particularly, references of their houses. A few of the visual factor, which I'm actually excited, is to see the best way during which older individuals have organized their houses, mit they’ve stored, previous pictures and issues to do. So I requested her, Can I, once I was in London, come and take footage and go to her house and trade info, and once I was there, I referred to as her, set up a espresso date and went over and took photographs. But later this afternoon, I acquired a direct message from Twitter from his niece saying, "sorry, I think you've been to your parents in your aunt, could you give me a call?" He had asked Grace if his keys have been still in front of the door once I left. He was not very involved about this because he had checked Twitter and Instagram and saw that I used to be doing the challenge and it was official, but at first I assumed he was fairly frightened. And I informed him: "I'm really sorry that cause stress, of course, you should be worried about this." It was uncommon, the best way I found Grace, I simply didn't discover someone on the road, but in such circumstances it simply happened. I have to persuade people who are not even interviewed that an interview ought to happen or that it is a good suggestion. So, my strategy is to think about how I could make this look really good for all gatekeepers, not just the individual I interview. And typically the thought of ​​being comics can get into it as a result of they consider cartoons as jokes and masks, they usually don't need to be enjoyable. I'm sending examples of cartoons to show that I can stability critical concepts with mild humor. It was virtually forbidden for me to interview an 102-year-old lady on the island of Toronto because she didn't like the thought of ​​being cartoons. But when he read the comic, he was like "oh, okay, that's okay."

Ah, okay

Yeah, he was in it. Um, but yes. It's a bit of troublesome – or it's another facet of the job of discovering individuals after which, you recognize –

Making a connection and belief.

Yeah, and typically, like translators, so typically – Sure, I’ve discovered quite a bit coordinate such a undertaking. It has plenty of shifting elements.

Seems like a number of work to construct such a relationship with the interviewee, I feel.

Yes. or how. Yeah, it's very fascinating. Do you have got a questionnaire or bulletin on the subjects you want to cowl with them?

Yeah, me and me – it's in these three foregrounds why they assume they've lived so long, and their advice lives properly. And in addition their historical past, what they’ve lived, their social context, their rising political context, and in addition their dwelling circumstances, how they stay independently. The historical context is fascinating, many individuals, especially here in Europe, grew up via the Nazi occupation – I talked with some French ladies who remembered the occupation of their village, after which later, how the German troopers came to the town, a loopy story. And then, additionally in Amsterdam, the individuals I spoke to testify to the Jews expelled so that they have been rounded in locations, so – and lots of of these individuals grew up without electricity in their houses. Know-how has changed a lot during its lifecycle, and now they’re on Instagram. So it's just an fascinating moment to get back within the last hundred years. And even just watching – even photograph know-how. The fact that they’ve lovely photograph albums of pictures developed utilizing a way as numerous as we use as we speak – seems applicable to do this right now. Particularly since they’re shut to dying – I haven't been in a position to do the interviews because somebody died before I acquired to them, so it's really topical.

Yeah, very pressing.

Yes. What’s – I'm curious, what’s the demographics of the place, as these interviewees places? You've been to Europe for some time, then you definitely have been in Toronto earlier than that. What ethnic inhabitants knowledge have you ever looked at to date?

Properly, you understand, frankly, it's been very white and I'm making an attempt to work. Diversifying. I did about three or 4 in Canada, and I’ve been here, I’ve been in France, the UK, Denmark, Sweden and –

I imply, it’s so far a really numerous group of people. [19659003] It's – yeah. European – yes, however racially all white. And they are – it is extremely totally different culturally, completely.

As in American phrases, we now have a very type of binary means to take a look at the colors of people like white individuals and – I used to be just fascinated about how you –

Yeah, undoubtedly – it's definitely versatile culturally, but yes, as you stated, but racially has not been. It is extremely essential for me to have the ability to converse really from everywhere in the world. And so I hope to get into the Syrian group in Berlin. I'll go back to London quickly and simply acquired to the group middle, which is within the East Indian neighborhood, and hopefully get an interview –

It's very cool.

That might be actually cool and then when – I actually intend to search more funding and – hopefully journey outdoors Europe, so it might be great to go to the Middle East and Africa, and I don't understand how huge this challenge will end. But in addition Toronto's numerous and multicultural place. I have already had individuals with individuals – older individuals who might converse to me who will not be from Canada, who’re immigrants, I feel once I return to Toronto, I’ll attempt to do a collection of interviews

I assumed principally – perhaps it's not equally widespread to find individuals who have been in a position to reside for therefore long, only systematic oppressors and the poor. I was simply questioning if it was really more durable to find the colors that have reached this age.

Yeah, I mean it could possibly be a cause. And I feel it may be that I'm white, and – I have no idea. It's not like I only have white pals, however it looks like I'm sort of like a bubble or one thing.

I’ve been in a position to attain plenty of Jewish individuals. community and nearly who I have been to faculty or who I’ve met in my life, and so I'm making an attempt to work out how to get to the surface of your kuplaani

Yeah, yeah.

You also assume that Europe didn’t open – it has been brisker, it was opened to immigrants or at the very least what I perceive is that it has been extra in the final fifty years or one thing that immigrants have been welcomed in Europe. And so it’s so totally different from Canada, the place there’s a extra established and enthusiastic multicultural society. It is rarer here, immigrants, I imply – it's not like they're not here, nevertheless it's rarer if the elders are right here perhaps, and perhaps also a language barrier.



Do you’ve different challenges that you’ve had to face? Did you imply that you simply talked rather a lot about how much work goes into it – is something else that may be a fixed problem either with an actual interview or perhaps just with your physical work and expressing cartoons?

– Simply attain out to individuals. Typically individuals simply disappear they usually say, "Oh, yes, my grandmother is interested" and then they never write again to me. And with the comics, I'm painting them Gauche and I really like portray, nevertheless it takes so much time, and I’m slightly nervous concerning the precise scope of the challenge and its implementation in reality. Comics just take so much time and work, whatever you do, but there are definitely methods to reduce corners, like a graphic novel, I did it with a pencil and it was just as quick as if I had painted it, it will have taken me four occasions more time , so perhaps I'm a bit of formidable, making an attempt to do this, but I really like just gauchin mehevyyttä and I shot just for this challenge. I'm actually excited about Maira Kalman and his aesthetic, especially for this venture. So, I'm slightly bit – making an attempt not to be a bit of stubborn once we achieve this.

Yeah, yeah

And hopefully preserving the comics brief, I can only do

What’s the process during which you’re – I assume you document interviews, then go through and write after which pencils? What’s the course of you get from it –

Yeah, I report the interviews with video and audio – and I additionally write down in reminiscence if know-how fails and my reminiscence – as a result of the know-how just isn’t excellent and the video stops within the center [laughter].

Oh no

I don't know what I do [laughs]. But you don't have to write this – [laughs]

[ Laughter ] Strike, strike it [ laughs ].

"He knows what he's doing" [laughs]. Um, but then, I – you realize, it’s best if I like such a thumbnail shortly, however I typically don't, but I often write, I make bullet factors, like, point by point, key and sorting to find music stream. Then I’ve a thumbnail, it modifications at this point and I modify it once more. I minimize and paste adhesive tape and scissors and transfer things that means, after which – once I'm pretty proud of a thumbnail picture, then increase on them a photocopy machine, and then with a pen rough pencil, after which I make more prepared to pencil


Once I do a rough pencil, I’m going to regularly back by slicing And pasting and shifting issues round because in reality this wants more room or this doesn't make much sense and I get individuals to take a look at it by way of every part. It’s so superb to be at this residence in the meanwhile that cartoon artists are subsequent to me and ask them if my work is wise or present. It's an unimaginable place to be right here.

Yeah, I requested subsequent. How long have you ever been in your residence now?

From the start of November, so just over three months.

Oh cool. And how has it been for you, for this undertaking, identical to much, with different comedians who additionally respect their boat?

Yeah, it's been really good for this house base to journey. Studio is fantastic, I’ve good studio pals who’re targeted on their tasks, but are also very pleasant, and we solely have a superb feeling collectively, we speak and it is extremely nice, but we will additionally concentrate on our own stuff. I’ve a studio mode so I can make correspondence, and you realize, do my job, finalize comics, and have a brilliant desk on my desk, a copier downstairs, every part you need. I’ve an condominium on this condominium, so I can come and go as I hope and everybody seems to be good, they knew the undertaking once I came in. However really, I attempt to hold journeys brief, plainly once I'm gone for a number of weeks, it looks like a bit of waste, as a result of you possibly can reside in just one yr at a residential location, and I are not looking for to waste this time, so I attempt to maintain my trip brief. Even a authorized help companion to speak about copyright or taxes. It isn’t that I used it yet, however it’s – yes, it is extremely sturdy.

It's cool. So many assets [ chuckle ].

Yeah, that's it. And inspirational. I study methods, how – you understand, everyone has a approach to strategy a comic and it’s so fascinating to me and I see really cool thoughts that I might never have considered myself, so it's very cool to meet so many – so many artists who are additionally gifted, and you recognize that they are special in their very own method. It's very cool.

Very cool. Let's see, my last query is … properly, we talked about – this is like soiled, but what are the destructive languages ​​of working here or perhaps dwelling in England or France. I'm making an attempt to make it –

My gosh. I would like to go here.

Do you adore it?

I like it. I imply, it's somewhat exhausting to get to the airport.

[ laughter ] yeah, yeah

I have to take a practice to both Bordeaux or Paris.

I imply, boohoo, it's not that dangerous. I feel – I don't know. I have been right here for three months and I like it really. Perhaps after some time it might appear small and it is rather quiet – I don't know it is splendid to do the work for me like, I was in Toronto really feel very confused about commitments with household and buddies, and I mean what I would like to do, nevertheless it's exhausting to focus alone work When all that is and I really like quietly here and that I don't know that many individuals, even people who know, are enough to maintain my life busy with pals. So I don't want social interplay, but you realize, perhaps in the event you really feel after a couple of months, it feels tired. But the fact that I'm on the best way, to maintain it recent.

Yeah, sure, it's true.

Nevertheless, I feel I've heard that some people who have locations to reside right here a long time and do not

Ah, yes.

So I was ready for it, and I knew that this challenge would help me keep away from it.


Very cool, nevertheless it has been – it sounds like it has been actually best for you, which is really nice.

Yes. I actually haven’t any complaints, I simply need more – if we had it, if there was extra mild in the shared kitchen that might be good [Leong laughs] As truthfully, it doesn't matter.

It's so good to be here.

Awesome. The last query is how do you are feeling about your comic guide in your own hometown and do you are feeling it’s changing? For instance, perhaps give us an summary of how you are feeling concerning the current cartoon scene.

Properly, I feel it's really lively and there's a reasonably large scene. Toronto – TCAF is unimaginable and connects a lot of people. The Beguiling Comedian Retailer is a superb middle for cartoon events and comic strips, they usually arrange TCAF, and Broken Pencil can also be an exquisite middle for individuals to gather together and share their work and meet. It is extremely nice because I’ve pals in the States, I went to the Cartoon Analysis Middle and sometimes individuals come to it and see all your pals from throughout. I feel there are numerous scenes concerning the cartoon theme and that each one of them, you realize, have totally different circles that overlap one another in TCAF and elsewhere, however it appears that evidently there are a couple of small clicks or something that everyone has peripheral they’re related however perhaps they’re nearer to one circle.

Yeah, yes, positive.

And I feel there’s a little movie star place in all comics, but everybody is actually approachable and very nice and that's one thing I really like about comics, get probably the most inspiration so simply at these comic festivals, and you already know, you change emails and meet , it actually seems like an approaching scene.


Very Cool. I don't know for those who still have dates, but do you might have an estimated time to do your work?

I hope we do in Might 2020, so a-

Spring Next

Spring next yr

Good. And like publishers? Are you able to say?

I don't need to say yet, but a loving writer is interested and needs to see extra pages so it's good!

Good, very thrilling.

hoping, however we see how it goes.