This Chicago Cartoonist's New Book Is Called 'Someone Please Have Sex With Me'
By Hale Goetz in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 1, 2016 5:51PM
Gina Wynbrandt (photo by Matt Soria)
In one of my favorite panels of Someone Please Have Sex With Me, artist Gina Wynbrandt has drawn herself in blues and pinks, shoving a spoon into her mouth. Her nostrils are flared in shock at a recent photo of the now-hot Sprouse twins as she whines, “So sexy, I can’t deal.” It's pure Wynbrandt: a girlish color palette, a double chin and a lust for Disney graduates.
Released in May by 2dcloud, Someone Please Have Sex With Me is a five-comic collection, filled with vignettes about celebrity worship and sexual desperation from a virtuosic artist. At just 25, Wynbrandt has been featured in The Best American Comics 2015, nominated for an Ignatz Award. Now the Chicago-based artist has published her first book, too.
Someone Please Have Sex With Me has a home on the same shelf where I keep my tarot cards and wedding rings: it’s an altar, devoted to things I truly love. And, man, I really love this book. At the end of June, I got to talk to Wynbrandt about her new book, teen heartthrobs and why she loves Chicago.
CHICAGOIST: The Gina presented in Someone Please Have Sex With Me is a little frightening, some blend of needy, self-depreciating and a little bit predatory. How much of yourself do you see reflected back at you?
GINA WYNBRANDT: A lot of myself is reflected. They’re the worst parts of me and a bit exaggerated, but it is me. I could write a pleasant comic that illustrated all my good traits, but that would be so boring to read! I also find it therapeutic to take negative, annoying things about myself, and turn them into a fun, silly story.
C: As someone who is very, very fat, I saw the way you drew yourself in this book as sort of cathartic. Your faces are humorously expressive, and you don’t skimp on the panels featuring a double chin. How did it feel to publish comics of yourself in such close and personal detail?
GW: It feels good. Women who are gross or aren’t conventionally attractive are not often featured as main characters. Female protagonists, even if they’re just normal or average, have to also be objects of desire. I enjoy subverting that by characterizing myself as unfuckable in various ways.
C: When you graduated from the Art Institute, what were you thinking you’d end up doing? Were you always planning on writing comics?
GW: By the end of college, I’d decided that comics were my thing, but I didn’t really have a plan. I was just self-publishing my minicomics, working at Jimmy John’s, and hoping something amazing would fall into my lap. Two years after graduating, I started working with my publisher, 2dcloud, and they put out my mini Big Pussy. I still have a full-time day job as a secretary, but things are moving in the right direction.
C: In your comic Tiger Beat Exclusive, you travel to Hollywood with your Fairy Godmother (Kim Kardashian) to meet boy bands and pop stars. Honestly, I watched (and loved) One Direction: This Is Us. I don’t think I’ve ever been a fan of their music, but I weirdly care about these boys. How would you explain your relationship with these teen heartthrobs?
GW: Teen heartthrobs are marketed to young girls who can’t date yet, but want to feel the warm tingly feeling we associate with love. When I was in my early 20s, Justin Bieber and One Direction came along, and their marketing ploys totally worked on me. I loved the music, their voices, and I listened to them more than anyone else because each song felt like it was sung just for me. I was attracted to them because they were adorable and talented, but also because I hadn’t had a boyfriend in years, and had extremely low self-esteem.
It was embarrassing. You’d think that since I was older and totally aware of the marketing of celebrity to my loneliness that I’d stop, but no, they filled a void in my life. Justin Bieber was able to make me feel good and happy and somehow special. I just wanted to know him so badly, to the point where it was painful because I knew I could never meet him. I think including him and 1D in my comics was an attempt to get their attention (they’ve never acknowledged their appearance in my work, sadly).
But now--a few years and dozens of confidence-building sexual encounters later--I don’t feel so strongly about Justin Bieber and other teen-centered heartthrobs. But, I thank them for being there when I desperately needed them.
C: Big Pussy—also one of the comics included in your new book—has a plot based loosely on Usagi Tsukino's story in Sailor Moon. The Sailor Moon homage is probably one of my favorite things about this book, and it matches a lot of the adolescent themes strung throughout your comics. Can you talk a little bit about the use of nostalgia as a storytelling device? How do you feel like it affects your audience or who you're writing for?
GW: A lot of my expectations for life are based on what I see on TV. In Sailor Moon, Usagi is a lazy crybaby who eats too much and gets bad grades. But because she is the protagonist of her own show, she is our heroine and bestowed with the responsibility of fighting evil and protecting the universe. Her narrative led me to have the expectation that I didn’t really have to work on maturing or growing up (I, too, am a lazy crybaby), and as the protagonist of my own show/life, I’m also chosen for greatness in some way, just as Usagi was. A major part of Big Pussy was to make this comparison to Sailor Moon and to figure out what maturity and responsibility means. But the use of nostalgia in my comics is usually just as a gag, just a little wink to my fellow #True90sKids out there.
C: You are super open with how online dating is going on Twitter, and sometimes it’s less than good. How has writing comics about your experiences affected the way you date and hook up? Do you feel like you’re able to approach things with more humor?
GW: I think overall it has made me more reckless. If everything goes badly, hey, I can use it as inspiration for a comic! When I started doing online dating in college (2010), I thought it would be wonderful and easy, and I would have a boyfriend in no time. I thought the reason I was single was simply because I wasn’t meeting many guys (my college’s population was like 70 percent female and a lot of my classes were mostly girls).
But 6 years later, I still haven’t had a relationship, and I’m realizing that it’s not because I’m not meeting enough men. It has more to do with the fact that I am an immature baby incapable of adult romance and/or I am not hot enough to get away with how crazy I am. Oh, well. I’m going to be really famous very soon and then I can establish my harem of groupies that follow me everywhere.
C: In your Paste interview, you talked about how you’re never too far from home. Do you plan to stay in Chicago?
GW: Chicago has a great comics scene! I found my place in the community by taking comics classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and becoming friends with my classmates and teachers. Chicago is where I built my audience, by consigning my comics to Chicago Comics and Quimby’s. I love my hometown and all the cartoonists here, and have no plans to move soon. That being said, I wouldn’t turn down an amazing opportunity outside of Chicago if it came up.
This interview has been condensed and edited.