On the edge of industrial Greenpoint, in one tiny, sunlit room lined with computers and desks, sits a collection of some of the finest up-and-coming female graphic novelists, cartoonists and illustrators in New York City. They contribute to The New Yorker and Vice, The New York Times and The Believer alike. They publish zines, comic books and memoirs. They work quietly, with their heads down, but sometimes they share business tips or give each other input on their work. Also, they gossip. The name of the studio is Pizza Island.
“One year ago, we were all working at home in our pajamas,” says Julia Wertz, who last year published the funny and endearing memoir, “Drinking at the Movies.” They’ll be celebrating their one-year anniversary with a group reading and slideshow on Saturday as part of the Fireside Follies series at Brooklyn Fireproof in Bushwick.
Sharing a studio space became a way to combat the loneliness that goes hand-in-hand with being a solo artist. “There were days when I didn’t even leave the house. There was no boundary between work life and home life,” says Sarah Glidden, author of the critically acclaimed, “How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less,” which depicts her struggle to come to terms with the history and politics of Israel.
But in this white-walled room — complete with a crush wall of pictures ranging from Axl Rose to Jason Schwartzman — they’ve created a community, one that benefits them creatively. “I have great respect for everyone here and the work that they do. Being around them gives me inspiration,” says Lisa Hanawalt, creator of the sexy, absurdist “I Want You” comic books.
As for the all-female roster — which also includes Karen Sneider, Domitille Collardey and Kate Beaton — the studio-mates are hesitant to claim it was deliberate, but appreciate the uniqueness of the environment. Meredith Gran, who maintains OctopusPie.com, says, “We encounter so many men in every comics-related event. The high concentration of women is a rare thing.”
“I feel like it skews my view of the comics world, because people are always talking about it being a boys’ club, and I’m like, ‘What?’” laughs Glidden. “‘Everybody who does comics is female. What are you talking about?’”