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time for... crafty query!

 

Natalie Dee illustrations, top to bottom:
flying squirrel
coolness 101 brought to you by sprint
i'm a quitter!
bummer dude
i rock
shedmaster
its so bad but it feels so good
totally president

don't forget to check out:

toothpaste for dinner

and...

married to the sea!

Surprise! We enlisted the talents of one of our long-time favorites to spice up our Valentines this year -- THE one and only Natalie Dee! Just in case you aren't familiar with the internets or you don't get out much, Natalie Dee is a fabulous writer and cartoonist. She is the creator of the self-titled comic, Natalie Dee, as well as Married to the Sea, which she produces in conjunction with her husband, Drew (another web icon), author of Toothpaste for Dinner. Natalie Dee is also the creator of MUGS, which is part of the ongoing online video series Roller Chester. Natalie lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two dogs, Charles and Chester. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. These two kids are N-U-T-S, especially now that we can see them in all their video glory--just as crazy as we'd hoped.

My personal favorite of all of Natalie's video work has to be Natalie Dee's Weiner Jamboree, where she suddenly adopts a dead-on southern gal persona, right down to the mindless shoutin' of "Shut up, dawg", added as an inevitable afterthought. Bein' in the south, we recognize the symptoms.

At left are some examples of our favorite Natalie Dee comics, but feel free to explore for yourself. We think you'll be hooked. And, now, here's Natalie:

Query: How do you think growing up in a small town creatively inspired you?

NatD: I dunno, a lot of people view coming from a small town as an albatross, but I don't think that could be farther from the truth... living in a small town affords kids a lot more freedom than they might have in a larger city. In a small town, you have more room to find what you like on your own terms, instead of being met with a smorgasbord of different pre-established cliques of people.

That being said, though, there is nothing particularly inspiring about small towns in and of themselves. I don't make comics about small towns, but I don't think that I would be able to make the kind of comics I do without having grown up in a place that encouraged me to care so little about what other people think. In a small town, wearing little plastic bugs taped to your clothes and shaving half your head and starting a polka band is weird, but so is playing soccer, or being liberal. You don't care if people make fun of you for making weird art if they made fun of you for doing normal stuff, like reading books or wearing dresses, also.

Maybe small towns have a backassward kind of inspiration.

Query: Your comic "Natalie Dee" is the most popular comic online written and illustrated by a woman (wow!) How has working in a male-dominated industry challenged you, and what have you done to overcome these challenges?

NatD: If by "challenged" you mean "ignored", then working in a male-dominated industry challenged me a whole fucking lot!

All joking aside, though, I never really think about the webcomic sausage party. I don't really look at other online comics, and they never have anything to say to me, so we mutually ignore each other. Comics in general are pretty male-dominated-- I read REAL COMICS a lot, and started making drawings on my own not as a way of getting into a male-dominated industry, but as a way of entertaining myself in a way that a bunch of dudes just weren't able to. I make stuff that I like, and that is as far as I concern myself with what anyone thinks about what I do. The way that media changed, and people came to view my drawings and lump them in with comics/webcomics was a fluke.

I don't think I've had to overcome anything, because I don't think that being a lady is anything to have to overcome. I never asked for an invitation to anyone's party, I just keep to myself, make stuff I like, and get a lot of work done. My vagina never really comes into it at all. If I was a dude, I would probably be as marginalized, just for different reasons. If people want to pass judgement on your work based on anything other than the art itself, they will. Other webcomics seem to have hung a NO GIRLS ALLOWED sign outside their clubhouse, but if you look past that and read their sites, you see that they cater to the interests of teenaged boys. You can't be mad about the NO GIRLS ALLOWED sign when they just hung it up to cover up the fact that no girls wanted to come over, anyway.

Query: Yeah!! Since you quit your full-time job in 2005 to draw Natalie Dee, has your perspective on your comic or your art career changed at all?

NatD: Not especially... The only thing I really think about when I am making comics is whether or not I am having fun drawing it, whether or not I think it looks good, and whether or not I think it's funny. Things have changed a lot since I started, but I have been served pretty well thus far by just making something that makes me happy.

Query: What do you do to stay creative, now that you no longer have the inspiration of a daily commute to a full-time job?

NatD: I think a lot of people might think the wording of this question is strange, since I have job in a creative field, and also since people don't associate a commute with creative inspiration, but there is a lot to be soaked up just by going about normal day-to-day business.

I try to stay sharp by keeping abreast of current events, culture, etc. I also draw recreationally and try to learn other drawing programs and methods to make sure I keep learning new ways to get my ideas across.

Query: How has the Internet changed in the six years since you've been drawing your comic? Do you think your readers have become more or less receptive to independent media since you began?

NatD: I certainly think that people are more receptive to independent media than they were when I first started posting content. In the past 5-10 years, the Internet has made strides in growing from a small community of a select group of people, to being something more widespread and accessible to a much wider group. Where being on the internet used to be a luxury that was only pursued by certain types of people, now everyone has access to it. Old people, young kids, soccer moms, whoever. Almost everyone sits in front of a computer with internet access all day long at work and at school. The Internet is definitely a more accurate cross-section of society now, whereas before it was more like--do I want to say--a nerd thing?

I will go ahead and say that--it was a nerd thing. Now it is not as much. It has grown more into its potential as a community, and people are learning more about using it to make real-life tasks easier, rather than to escape real life. People use it to talk to their friends, rather than hide because they have none. That's not to say that people don't still use it for escapist purposes, it is just a lot easier now to make it a part of the balanced breakfast of your life.

Query: Many online comics seem to have a target demographic, but "Natalie Dee" seems to draw from all spheres. Who's your target audience (if you have one?)

NatD: I just make what I like, and put it up. I don't have a target demographic. If you can look at my site and get something out of it, then I made it for you.

I read a lot, and think about stuff a lot. I read anything and everything, and I let my thoughts wander wherever they like. Filtering my ideas through what I think a particular group of people would want would be stifling. It would also be unfair to the people who like the comics which might not see the light of day if I forced myself to work within the confines of a particular age or subcultural group. There are a lot more people who like my site for what it is than people who want to read a comic about videogames or indie rock or lolcats.

Query: What do you intend for your readers to get out of Natalie Dee comics? Do you feel they reflect reality, or do they reflect an alternate reality?

NatD: The site is called Natalie Dee, but that is because my name is Natalie Dee and I made the site. The main character of the site is not supposed to be me, and the other characters don't really represent anyone I know. The main character is a blank canvas upon which I can project any kind of ideas I have. Sometimes she has qualities that I share, but other times she exhibits negative, ugly qualities that I would never indulge in.

If anyone was to get anything out of my site, I would want it to influence people to be more honest with themselves and others. Not honest in some godly, perfect honesty way-- just honest about how they actually feel about things, and honest about sharing their ideas with people without worrying what people think.

Frank, maybe? Maybe I wish that it would influence people to be more frank, and more obvious with their intentions and wants. Does that make sense? God, I hope so.

Query: If you're talkin' frank as in hot dogs as in weiner jamboree, then yeah. Frank it is.

ha ha ha

p.s.

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