joey comeau has a way with words. everything he writes is golden because his words travel from your eyes, to your brain, & settles right in your bones. joey is the co-creator of the web comic a softer world & when you finish reading the comic, usually a sentence or so, your mind still thinks about the character whose thoughts or words you have read. his words are brilliant & so are the worlds he creates with them. read everything. joey has written seven books & each are so very different. he writes horror, he writes adventure, he writes resumes, he writes about gender & sexuality, he writes about family. read this interview, soak it in, & then read everything joey has ever written. go!!!
what makes you feel wonderful? if you are having a sub-par day, what do you do &/or say to make yourself feel good again? I’ll answer these two questions together. Eating candy in my bedroom makes me feel wonderful. It’s not healthy, and I always eat too much, but right up until my body revolts – it’s wonderful. Buying DVDs and books makes me feel wonderful. I used to worry about that, worry that it was consumerism and that buying things shouldn’t make a person feel better. But it’s hard to deny yourself relief from sadness, especially over something vague and political like anti-consumerism. Maybe we’re a society that is too obsessed with objects, yes. But I love going through the TV on DVD section, and I love the feel of a new book in my hand. Being morally right doesn’t fill the empty pit of my stomach when I am having a lonely day. Buying a season of the Muppet Show does.
where do you think love hides? Sometimes I will spend a whole day smiling at strangers, and chatting with sales clerks and people walking their dogs. Sometimes you only get a grunt or a scowl in response, but the next person will have a smile for you, too. My mom does this way better than I can. She’s always smiling and nice to the people in her everyday life. I have a hard time not sinking back into my own sadness, or worry. But every time I do make the effort to show kindness to strangers, it comes right back at me and it’s not so ridiculous to think human beings love each other! I don’t think love hides, I think it’s always right there for you to reach out and touch. That’s a bit dorky sounding, but not as dorky as this: I think people hide from love.
when do you feel most loved? Even with my very best friends, weeks can go by where all our conversations are jokes and small talk about what’s going on immediately around us. Day to day life. And that’s fine, and normal, and just being with them is warm and reassuring. The strongest that love ever feels is when you’re completely vulnerable, I think. When I break down and trust somebody more than I normally do. When I am scared, and instead of hiding it, I talk to someone and let them know that I’m scared, even if they can’t do anything about it.
what inspires most of your writing? Ideas! I like ideas. A novel told through cover letters, or what would happen if someone you loved turned into a zombie? You would care for them. Or why do the kids always win out over the powerful, crazed killer in horror movies? That doesn’t make sense! Or why can’t dirty stories be sweet and sad? And then I’ll sit down and write. And rewrite.
what is your favourite rainy day activity? I like watching TV and playing video games. I enjoy chess, too. I have spent whole days watching episode after episode of Criminal Minds, for instance. Or watching horror movies. I think that there’s a lot of valuable storytelling techniques at work in television and the movies. I find myself writing in scenes, shaping them with that same sense of purpose that TV scenes have. Keep things moving forward! I like the idea of writing movies as books.
you write about gender a lot, what would you say to someone struggling with their sexuality? I don’t know exactly what to say here, because people struggle with identity and gender and sexuality in so many different ways. You could say, “fuck what other people think. Be yourself, because there will always be someone out there that sees who you are and respects that, and the people who don’t respect you aren’t worth your time.” but I got an email from a kid who was still living at home and facing a super negative response to their sexuality. I wrote that they should just say what the parents wanted to hear, and wait until they could get out on their own. Maybe that’s not the best advice in the world, but I don’t think I’m particularly qualified to give advice anyway. It terrified me that a 15 year old in a terrible situation was coming to me for help. Because what I said wasn’t empowering at all. It was just the most practical solution I could think of.
what would you say to someone who feels ‘stuck’ in their life, job, relationship, etc. ? Burn it down and start over.