Cartoonist Ellen Forney grew up in Philadelphia and has lived in Seattle since 1989. She created the Eisner-nominated comic books I Love Led Zeppelin and Monkey Food, and collaborated with Sherman Alexie on the National Book Award-winning novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. She has been teaching comics at Cornish College of the Arts since 2002. Forney swims, does yoga and fixes things with rubber bands and paper clips. Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me: A Graphic Memoir (Gotham Books, November 2012) is her most recent book.
On your nightstand now:
Assuming that means the general area within arm's length of my pillow, including under the nightstand, on the radiator and on the floor: Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton (as a swimmer and artist myself, I am LOVING this book), Petals and Thorns: 18 Fairy Tales by Bret Fetzer (my partner and I read these to each other in bed), No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics edited by Justin Hall, Nancy Is Happy by Ernie Bushmiller, Bunch of Amateurs by Jack Hitt, several New Yorkers and my journal for my 3 a.m. brainstorms.
Favorite book when you were a child:
McElligot's Pool by Dr. Seuss. I was fascinated by the idea that a tiny puddle could open into a fantastic hidden underground universe, and the fish down there just blew my mind.
Your top five authors (/cartoonists):
Alison Bechdel, Jim Woodring, Bill Watterson, Kaz, Harvey Kurtzman. The list goes on, of course, of mostly smart and funny authors.
Book you've faked reading:
Apple's iTunes "Terms and Conditions."
Book you're an evangelist for:
I assign Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud in all of my classes. I recommend it to anyone who tells me they find reading comics difficult. McCloud is a total comics geek, charming and enthusiastic, and he explains clearly how comics work. This book is brilliant. (I recommend watching his TED talk--you'll be inspired!)
Book you've bought for the cover:
Big Book of Breasts 3D, edited by Dian Hanson. I also bought this for the spine. (It rocks the bookshelf!)
Book that changed your life:
Comics that made me want to be a cartoonist: Life in Hell by Matt Groening, Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel, East Texas by Michael Dougan. Books that took me through the toughest times after my bipolar diagnosis and helped inspire my own book: An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison and Darkness Visible by William Styron.
Favorite line from a book:
I often start my workday with writing warm-ups from Naming the World, edited by Bret Anthony Johnson, so I'd say I have many favorite lines. I love even just reading the prompts--each one is like a little puzzle.
"Spend five minutes listing verbs that have to do with the ocean."
"Spend ten minutes describing the worst gift you've ever received."
"Spend twenty minutes writing a scene that involves a doughnut for dinner."
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. I loved the experience of reading it. I felt like I had a crush on this book.