Checking In With Emily Flake
You never know what you’ll learn when you go (virtually) knocking on a cartoonist’s door. As part of the Spill’s “Checking In With…” series I asked my colleague, Emily Flake, whose ninth anniversary as a New Yorker cartoonist is in September, what she’s been up to lately, and she replied:
“As always, plugging away at gag cartoons and longer stuff to pitch to The New Yorker. I have a bi-weekly slot with The Nib, so there’s that! I suspended operations on Lulu Eightball about a year ago – I was in the throes of a writing job that was fun and lucrative but took up a lot of time, and something had to give; I’d been doing Lulu since 2001 and figured it was time to step back. I’ve just learned that the paper where Lulu got its start, the Baltimore City Paper, is shutting down, so I’ve been in a bit of a funk over that.
In general I also do illustration work; writing this out reminds me that I’m overdue on some sketches for a project about the process of dying (a laff a minute!). I have a 4 year old, and those things are remarkably time-consuming. I also spend a lot of time falling down internet rabbit holes and mucking around in a swamp of self-doubt and loathing. I did however just get a sulus-vide device for my birthday, so there’s that! Also I make pies.”
Michael Maslin: I’m almost afraid to ask — but what’s a “sulus-vide device” (I could look it up but then I might end up falling into that very same internet rabbit hole).
Emily Flake: Whoa, sorry! I mis-typed “sous-vide” – it’s a thing that creates a hot water bath so you can cook things in it. It’s supposed to be amazing. I will keep you posted on the results as soon as I have any.
Left: A sous vide. Thanks to Emily, I just learned something.
MM:Your “process of dying” project sounds fascinating, especially as your book, Mama Tried was about the beginning years of the life cycle. Many cartoonists tend to visit and revisit death on a regular basis (in their work). Do you as well?
EF: Well, the dying project is something I’m doing for someone else – it’s not necessarily *my* thoughts on dying. I’ve done some “death personified” gags for the magazine, because who hasn’t; I think about death almost every day. Not in a particularly morbid way, just in terms of what the eventual end of a thing means for the thing itself. It all became unbearably precious to me once I had a kid (not that you have to have a kid to feel that life is precious, but for me it really raised the stakes).
left: a drawing by Ms. Flake published in The New Yorker
, November 1, 2011
EF: Thanks! It was indeed my first full-page, and I liked that feeling. I’ve submitted full-pagers before; I like having a bit more room to explore a thing, and I’ve always enjoyed being able to riff on a joke – I’ve published a few 3 or 4 beat gags, which is my preferred method of joke-crafting.
MM: Are you going into the New Yorker’s offices on a regular basis?
: I am extraordinarily lazy and prefer not to leave a six-block radius if I can avoid it. For what do we have an internet if not to facilitate that kind of sloth? Emma’s [Emma Allen, the New Yorker‘s cartoon editor] not really doing the sit-down immediate review of batches and prefers to get them digitally, so that saves me wearing pants.
MM: You mentioned you make pies. What kind of pies?
EF: You name it. I recently made a blueberry galette that was an absolute knockout. Now that it’s summer, peach pies, berry pies, etc; I also made a caramelized onion galette (the lazy man’s pie!) recently that turned out great. I made a pistachio cream pie a couple summers ago that I think I’ll revisit – cream/pudding pies are great for this kind of weather. I also recently came across a recipe for tahini brownies that I can’t wait to try – I used tahini in chocolate chip cookies recently and holy shit. I’m not much of an innovator in baking – I follow recipes – but I do love to do it.
MM: Pistachio cream! Wowzers. Do you happen to have a photo of a Flake pie?
EF: [I’m sending you photographs of] a bunch of baked goods and also a paper target, because as I was looking through my photos I remembered that I also like to go to the Westside Range and shoot off a few rounds.
MM: What are you usually shooting at the range: pistols or rifles?
EF: I’ve only shot rifles at the range – you need a serious permit to shoot pistols in NYC (which I think is a good thing! I like to shoot, but I am all for gun control).
MM: Have you been shooting guns a long time, or is this something new?
EF: The first time I ever shot was at a friend’s home range upstate, and I shot pistols there; despite an almost incapacitating hangover, I found I had a knack for it (or possibly just beginner’s luck). Last year I went and took a class at the Westside Range, and then I joined as a member so I can shoot whenever I want. I am only slightly embarrassed to tell you that my interest in shooting was rekindled mainly by a mixture of the current ghostly political climate and, um, watching too much Walking Dead.
Below: An array of some of Ms. Flake’s pies. One of her paper targets, along with a slice of one of her pies, appears at the top of this post
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