Since Carol Lay gave us The Big Skinny in 2008, a very funny account of her successful struggle to lose weight, the prolific creator has stayed largely out of the limelight in the publishing world. But in October she’ll be back with Illiterature, a brand new hardcover collection of her well-known Story Minute cartoons.
Published by Boom!’s Boom! Town imprint, it’s a clever title fitting for Lay’s wry works. According to Boom!’s solicitiation, it’s “the middle ground between literature and illiteracy, between science and superstition, and it lies between the hollows of man's horrors and the heights of his hilarity.”
Illiterature will be in direct market comics stores October 31 and in general bookstores in November. Lay will also be at the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco October 13-14, signing at the Boom! booth.
The first in a planned four volumes of collected comic strips, Illiterature showcases Lay’s Story Minute and Way Lay comic strips originally printed from 1994-2008. The only previous collections of these strips were from the now defunct Kitchen Sink Press and these new collections will pick up where those left off. Even old fans of Lay’s work will find some new gems hidden in the pages of Illiterature.
“I kept mostly to the order in which I produced the strips, but I took the liberty of tossing some clinkers or shuffling a few so that they flow better in book form,” said Lay of the new collection. “I also used my artistic license to improve on some of these older works – I’m a better writer and artist than I was when I created these strips…In a sense several of the strips in these volumes are ‘director’s cuts’ in that I’m a better director now than when I drew them.”
The strip hasn’t run since 2008, at a time when, Lay said, many weekly papers began cutting their comics budget. On top of that, she was working on The Big Skinny and was forced to let her serials go. But after a four year hiatus, “It’s nice to revisit these strips, if only to remember happier economic climes for independent cartoons,” she said.
“The beauty and challenge of Story Minute,” said Lay, “was that I told a new tale every week. I consider the best ones to be stand-alone strips that tell a succinct tale in twelve panels.”
Most of the book does consist of these 12-panel standalone stories, with a few serials thrown in. Lay is already hard at work on Volume II, along with her regular work on the Simpsons for Bongo Comics and a new project she says she’s not ready to share yet, but does hint that she might be looking to use crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo to get more of her own work out there.
But in the meantime, you will have plenty of Illiterature to tide you over. At 120 pages, “these strips are not meant to be read in one sitting,” said Lay. “The book might be best kept in the bathroom, or in a car where you might read one or two while waiting for the cop to finish writing you a ticket.”