Mimi Pond

Mimi Pond’s bestselling graphic novel “Over Easy” is refreshing — as refreshing as a quasi-memoir set in a seedy place during a rough decade can be.

The cartoonist recalls her time as an art-school dropout working at an Oakland cafe, a place fueled by crass banter and filthy jokes, where drug dealers were VIPs and line cooks were tormented artists.

From Mimi Pond's "Over Easy," (Drawn and Quarterly, 2014)

Fusion caught up with Mimi Pond in her hometown of San Diego at Comic-Con 2014, where she received the prestigious Inkpot Award for Achievement in Comics.

Advertisement

Fusion: You've described the book as "navigating the moral swamp of the 1970s." How bad was it?

Mimi Pond: The ‘70s were good and bad. It was good that you could, like, have the freedom to experience random sex without people judging you for it. Everyone was just doing it with everyone, and you could do as little or as much as you want and nobody thought anything of it. There was no "slut-shaming."

At the same time—I saw so many people fall down the rabbit hole of drug abuse really badly. The second book gets into that, it gets pretty dark.

From Mimi Pond's "Over Easy," (Drawn and Quarterly, 2014)

People were so naive. It was like—people were into like, vintage stuff and art deco from the 1930s and it's like suddenly someone said "Hey! Jazz musicians were into cocaine, so it MUST be cool!" and everyone went "Hey! Yeah! Okay!" And no one knew that it was the kind of drug that turned people into giant assholes.

Fusion: Yeah! Miles Davis—he was famously super cool to everyone.

Mimi Pond: Yeah, right. And you learn very quickly, if you have any sense at all, that this is a stupid drug, and you really don't want to get caught up in this. But there are a lot of very young, very naive people.

From Mimi Pond's "Over Easy," (Drawn and Quarterly, 2014)

Fusion: To write "Over Easy," you had to capture characters who talk in a manner that's unacceptable by today's standards. Did you get any resistance from your publisher?

Advertisement

Mimi Pond: I was dealing with an era that was nothing but politically incorrect. There were a lot of liberal white people who thought they could bandy about politically incorrect, racial terms because it was tongue-in-cheek and they knew better, and everyone knew they knew better. And that was the context of the time.

Now, with everyone being more sensitive about everything, it's like, you know, you can't say those words even if you try to explain the context.

There are a number of things that went out. But one thing I held the line on was when [cafe manager Lazlo Merengue] referred to buying a car from some "cholo.” And [Drawn & Quarterly editors] said "oh, you can't say that." I was like, "what do you mean I can't say cholo? Everyone knows what a cholo is!"

I happen to be friends with the editor of the Orange County Weekly, Gustavo Arellano, who has written a column for that paper for years called "Ask A Mexican." I sent him a message asking him "is ‘cholo’ an offensive term?" and he's like "No!"

And so I said to them, "Gustavo Arellano says cholo is not offensive!"

They were like, "We don't care."

So I was like "You're Canadian, you don't know anything!"

So they said, "Okay, okay, you can have ‘cholo’."

From Mimi Pond's "Over Easy," (Drawn and Quarterly, 2014)

Fusion: Was there any aspect of breaking into comics in the 70s where you felt excluded?

Advertisement

Mimi Pond: Luckily Shary Flenniken, who was the [National Lampoon] Cartoon editor, was a great champion of women cartoonists. Once you crossed over into the writing side, the boys’ club aspect became more apparent, but we still got away with a lot.

It was also a good time to be a cartoonist because it was a time when a lot of magazines were still publishing a lot of cartoons for no other reason than … they wanted to publish cartoons. Magazine publishing has really totally changed, and there's not that many magazines that devote pages and pages of every issue to publishing cartoons. It's a whole different world now.

From Mimi Pond's "Over Easy," (Drawn and Quarterly, 2014)

Fusion: It also seems like it made a big difference, how much your parents encouraged you to draw.

Advertisement

Mimi Pond: It was kind of a given in my family that I was the cartoonist, and that I was going to grow up and be a cartoonist. And yet, looking around as a kid there were hardly any women cartoonists.

I'd read Little Lulu and I'd think—who's the guy who writes Little Lulu, some guy named "Margé"—it didn't occur to me it was a woman named Marge. It was just inconceivable that women did comics, and yet it was something I was told I was gonna do.

I went to art school and I didn't get any respect at all in art school for wanting to be a cartoonist; at that point it was considered really low. The teachers would make fun of the idea of a cartoonist, but then if I showed them my cartoons, they would laugh. I was like "Ah-ha! Gotcha!"

From Mimi Pond's "Over Easy," (Drawn and Quarterly, 2014)

It's interesting because although my parents had encouraged me wanting to be a cartoonist, once it got to the point where I was supposed to go out and earn a living, it made them really nervous. Suddenly it was like, "Maybe you could work for an ad agency!" They were both working class people who had jobs all their lives. They couldn't conceive of anyone doing freelance.

From Mimi Pond's "Over Easy," (Drawn and Quarterly, 2014)

Mimi Pond's bestselling graphic novel Over Easy is available now. She is already working on Part 2.

Andy is a graphics editor and cartoonist at Fusion.