The Story of My Tits è il libro a fumetti che ogni genitore dovrebbe regalare alla propria figlia non appena si accorge degli interminabili minuti passati davanti lo specchio, o del repentino cambio di taglia e modello per t-shirt e pantaloni. Lo dico da figlia. Ma è anche il libro che ogni madre di figlio maschio dovrebbe leggere insieme al proprio ragazzo e con lui ridere di gusto o lasciarsi commuovere da quell’incredibile varietà di situazioni che i seni creano in ogni donna a tutte le età. Lo dico da madre di figlio maschio.

The Story Of My Tits, è l’ultimo graphic novel scritto e disegnato da Jennifer Hayden, illustratrice e cartoonist che ha debuttato nel comics con la raccolta Underwire, nel 2011, pubblicazione dedicata alla disamina sarcastica e irriverente di marito, matrimonio, figli, maternità e tutto quel resto che, inevitabilmente, le categorie citate si portano dietro. Volente o no.

Underwire cover

Underwire, copertina dell’edizione americana, 2011.

Ma è con la pubblicazione di The Story Of My Tits, pubblicato in Italia da Edizioni BD, che l’autrice arriva a farsi conoscere dal grande pubblico e The New York Times, NPR, Library Journal, Amazon, Paste, GQ, Forbes, and Mental Floss inseriscono il titolo nei migliori del 2016.

storyofmytits-full

The Story of my Tits, copertina edizione americana, settembre 2016.

The Story of My Tits is a long history in which you are able to tell the many and various steps cross in life, your and your tits. How was born the project of writing a graphic novel telling all the feelings of a woman, including pain and loss, through her breasts?

The Story of My Tits è una lunga storia in cui riesci a raccontare le molte e diverse fasi attraversate nella vita, tua e delle tue tette. Come è nato il progetto di scrivere una graphic novel raccontando tutti i sentimenti di una donna, compresi dolore e perdita, attraverso i suoi seni?  

After I went through my breast cancer experience, I knew I wanted to share this story with other women. For years I had also tried to write about my life with no success at all, and when I discovered graphic novels -while I was recovering from my mastectomy- I realized immediately that this was the way I wanted to tell not just the story of my breast cancer, but all my stories. And somehow my breasts became a good physical and emotional motif for the progress of my life. And this kept the enormous project more organized.

The personal life, your marriage, your sons, are an inexhaustible source of inspiration for your books. How to manage the emotions of your family when they discover to be the protagonists, direct or indirect, of your next book?

La vita personale, il tuo matrimonio, i tuoi figli, sono una fonte inesauribile di ispirazione per i tuoi libri. Come gestisci le emozioni della tua famiglia quando scoprono di essere i protagonisti, diretti o indiretti, del tuo prossimo libro?

Autobiography is always difficult, especially when you have a family. They are the best source of life, and life is what I most want to capture. My family has had mixed feelings about my work -mostly they ignore it-. But I am realizing, especially as my kids grow into young adults and are less a daily part of my life, that there are ways to write about things that invoke some disguise, and I may be ready to try that. My next work will involve more fiction and non-fiction humor.

 

ritratto di Jennifer Hayden © Jen Davis.

ritratto di Jennifer Hayden © Jen Davis.

The body of women, just as the rights of women and the recognition of the equal opportunities between sexes, continues to be a matter of topical even in Western Countries. And your book speaks of breasts in all its variables. As was accepted your book? There is a part of America that will never read your book?

Il corpo delle donne, proprio come i diritti delle donne e il riconoscimento delle pari opportunità fra sessi, continua ad essere argomento di attualità anche nei Paesi occidentali. Come è stato accolto il tuo libro? C’è una parte di America che non leggerà mai il tuo libro?

Americans are funny about breasts. As a culture, we would prefer to think of them as existing for sexual entertainment, not biological need. But that’s not the way I or my family and friends or any of my readers seem to view breasts. I have had no problems so far with readers, male or female, young or old, understanding my book. But graphic novels are art, and art is always for the independent-minded.

Your sign is incredibly scratchy and pungent and strong arrives to the spectator. Who are your favorite authors and how to organize your work?

Il tuo segno grafico è incredibilmente graffiante e pungente e arriva fortissimo allo spettatore. Chi sono i tuoi autori di riferimento e come organizzi il tuo lavoro?

As a child I loved reading Archie, Peanuts, Doonesbury, and Asterix and Obelix, which is still my first choice for humor and character drawing. When I later discovered graphic novels, I was very influenced by Jeffrey Brown, Marjane Satrapi, Alison Bechdel, and Lynda Barry. I loved their primitive line and powerful emotional content.

As for how I organize my work, I work in pen only, one panel at a time, scanning each panel individually and creating the pages in Photoshop. Writing is the hardest part: I do that in a notebook till I have the line for the panel right. I have a vague outline, but prefer to be surprised by what I do next.

There are stories of women who you’re following to tell in your next books? What are the human feelings that most interest you investigate and tell?

Ci sono donne che stai seguendo per raccontarne la storia nei tuoi prossimi libri? Quali sono i sentimenti umani che più ti interessa indagare e raccontare?

I have two books I’m beginning to work on. One will continue to tell stories about my frustrations with motherhood and unreasonable social expectations for women. The other will delve into fiction, a romance involving an extremely strong middle-aged female character. I am interested in the essence of women, the connection between women and men, and our children, what we need from each other, the life and the humor and the loss that is the soup of life.

What do you think about the current production of the comics in Italy? You read some italian author?

Come considera la produzione attuale del fumetto in Italia? Ci sono degli autori italiani che legge regolarmente?  

I am not as educated as I would like be about Italian graphic novels. I don’t speak or read Italian and so I need to wait till books come out in translation. I did buy a book called Garage Band by Gipi in 2007, when I had only been doing comics for two years. I loved his gentle watercolor and quiet dialogue. He had good, real characters.

In Italy there are numerous small festival of quality but readers of comics are always considered a small niche. From mother and author, what are the advantages of read a graphic novel for children and adolescents?

In Italia ci sono numerosi piccoli festival di qualità ma i lettori del fumetto sono sempre considerati una piccola nicchia. Da madre e autrice, che cosa può offrire in più a un bambino e a un ragazzo la lettura di una graphic novel?

Graphic novels are so immediate in the way they communicate feeling and the layers of human interaction that can occur all at the same time. I believe graphic novels are a great way for people both young and old to develop compassion for different ways of seeing things. Reading a graphic novel, you are so clearly looking through someone’s eyes. The medium has developed into a wonderful body of literature.

Francesca Pieroni