INTERVIEW: Chynna Clugston-Major
Love Stories & Hating Manga
By Jason Thompson

© 2001 Chynna Clugston-Major

Chynna Clugston-Major always knew she'd be a cartoonist. The first comic she bought was Archie at the local drugstore. In the mid-‘80s, she discovered the alternative comics scene with books like Evan Dorkin's Pirate Corps, the Hernandez Bros.' Love and Rockets, and Jamie Hewlett's work in the British magazine Deadline. In high school she drew minicomics, some with anthropomorphic characters, and produced her first professional comic at the age of 19 (Bloodletting, published by Fantaco).

Her breakout story, the high-school comedy Blue Monday, appeared professionally in 1999 as a one-page strip in Dark Horse Presents #127. Since then, Blue Monday has been published in Action Girl, Oni Double Feature, and finally as its own Eisner-nominated series from Oni Press. Her second Blue Monday mini-series, Absolute Beginners, ends this summer. Clugston-Major's work combines British, American and Japanese influences (she visited Japan in 1998). Her upcoming projects include a new comedy series for 2002, Scooter Girl.

PULP: Bloodletting was a vampire comic, right? Is this an indication that you were, in fact, a Goth?

CC: No, actually, I was kind of punk rock. I was never really a Goth. I don't know how to explain it, when you're too many things all put into one? I listened to ska, but I dressed kind of punk, and I liked Goth music and shit like that too. So it's kind of a big mix. But I wasn't "a Goth." [laughs]

PULP: How did you discover manga?

CC: Actually I fucking hated manga [laughs] when I was younger, when I was a lot younger.

PULP: What manga did you hate?

CC: I hated the Robotech comics. They were so badly illustrated. I saw this one picture of Rick and he was shaving, and he looked like a fucking kid, okay?! And this got on my nerves so much. "How can he shave when he looks like he's 12?!" So yeah, that was a real turnoff. [laughs] But I really, really loved Adam Warren's Dirty Pair.

PULP: Wow. So you started liking it through Adam Warren?

CC: Yeah. That's why he's one of my main influences.

PULP: At what point did you get into Adam Warren? Which Dirty Pair series?

CC: It was "A Plague of Angels." That's still my favorite series.

PULP: When did you start getting into other Japanese comics?

CC: Lum actually. When I was a freshman in high school I had this half-Japanese boyfriend, and he loved Lum and Mai the Psychic Girl, and he gave me some issues. And I really got into it around that time.

PULP: You mentioned some of the stuff you liked in your Animerica interview [Vol. 8 #12]…Hidenori Hara's Itsudemo Yume wo.

CC: Oh, he's so awesome. If I could do comics just like him I'd be happy. I really like Please Save My Earth. Nobody's translated that yet, and I hate the anime. And then Kimagure Orange Road, I love Orange Road. I love Dance Till Tomorrow, Maison Ikkoku, I love that stuff. Anything Rumiko [Takahashi] does is just cool.

PULP: How much a part of your "comics identity" is the Japanese comics influence? If you'd never discovered manga, do you think you'd be doing Blue Monday?

CC: Yeah, I'd be doing Blue Monday, it'd just be a different art style. I'm definitely, totally influenced by manga, but also, probably just as much, by the English guys and alternative American comics.

PULP: Which artists have influenced you the most?

CC: Well, there's the Hernandez Bros., and Evan Dorkin, and Rumiko [Takahashi], and Masakazu Katsura, he's awesome. There's so many people. Obviously Adam [Warren], Jamie Hewlett, Phillip Bond.