Quarterly too short? Three years too long? Snakepit is now available as a yearly collection. Ben draws three panels of each day of his life, and 2007 has Ben gainfully employed at a video store (welcome to manager-hood), in a steady relationship that lasts well over a month (hello kitchen table with matching chairs), and doing the things that Ben does. Bong rips. Toobing. Six pack bike tours. Parties (big, small, good, bad, filled with monsters). Eating buffets. Watching movies. Playing in bands.
Ben’s comic is the visual embodiment of what I really enjoy about DIY punk. On the surface, and to the casual observer, it may not look like much. There’s a lot of down time. There aren’t a lot of showers involved and people from all over are constantly visiting around an invisible musical axis. There are tons of days where it’s, “Woke up hung over, went to work, got stoned, pigged out, fell asleep.” That’s life. Mundane. It is what it is, and Ben keeps it unglorified. But then there are the watershed days, like with Lance Hahn’s death and Ben choking up, unable to say much at Lance’s wake, but feeling both a deep sense of loss and compassion for a great dude’s passing. It shows that, yeah, music’s important to Ben, but it’s driven by the people behind it all, what beats in their hearts, and not what’s on their T-shirts. It keeps Ben fastened to the life he’s chosen. Great stuff.
Since I’ve already interviewed Ben a couple of times, I thought it’d be fun to mini-interview his special lady, Karen, to see if we could get some new insights.
Todd: What do you see as the biggest difference between comic Ben and real-life Ben?
Karen: This is tough, because I think Ben does a pretty good job with being honest about his life in the comic. A lot of his real-life self shows through in the comic book character.
Todd: What hesitations, if any, did you have of Ben and you moving in together?
Karen: Oh, man. Of course there were some hesitations. What a bummer to move in with someone only to have it crash and burn... and then you have to divide all your stuff up. So, definitely, we gave it a lot of thought. But it’s been a year since we moved in together, and we’re not sick of each other yet.
Todd: How did you become such a good chef?
Karen: My family’s really into food, so I actually learned how to cook from my dad. For me, it’s really a creative thing, so my favorite meals are when you get to point where you have all this random shit in the fridge and you come up with a dish that works. Ben’s not picky, though. He’s always trying to get me to cook cornbread.
Todd: Are you intentionally trying to fatten Ben up?
Karen: Yes. It’s like that fairy tale where every day the witch checks to see if the little boy’s gotten fat enough to eat.
Todd: Have you ever read over a day in Snakepit that you were involved in and go, “Huh, I didn’t know that?”
Karen: Um, not really. Most of the time it’s pretty straightforward, like doing laundry or something.
Todd: How do you feel being drawn into someone else’s daily life? There’s very little chance you’ll be “recognized” from the quality of the drawings themselves, but have people come up to you and said, “You must be Karen” due to being in Snakepit?
Karen: It can be a little weird. I’ve had a few strangers come up to me, and also some acquaintances who’ve read the book without knowing I dated Ben. It’s strange to have people bring up things that have happened, or—sorry, Todd—ask me all about Ben. The weirdest was when my mom looked Ben up on the internet and checked out his comics.
Todd: Best buffet in Austin?
Karen:BuffetPalace, hands down. It is truly the king of buffets in Austin.
Todd: What are your reflections on toobing?
Karen: Definitely one of my favorite things about Austin, and something I had never done before I moved here. It’s the most purely summer thing I can think of: drinking beers with your friends on the river.