Werewolves ride motorcycles, yeti have sex with mohawked back-to-landers, and mummy babies hide in sound booths in Janelle Hessig’s deeply funny and weird comics. Familiar tropes like beads of sweat and motion lines add emphasis to perfectly rendered facial expressions and rounded teeth in screaming mouths. A sense of joy is evident in meticulous background detail: little sight gags permeate her panels if you take the time to catch them. Once you see Janelle’s comics, you can’t unsee them—and you’ll look forward to the next ones.
But Janelle’s not just a comic writer and artist. She sang in the Tourettes when she was still a teenager, and later went on to bash the drums in Panty Raid and the Wet Spots. And, of course, she’s namechecked by both Bratmobile—who she roadied for—and Screeching Weasel.
She’s been a deejay, works in the comics industry, and—more than anything—gives off a vibe of goofy inclusion that welcomes people into the punk scene. Janelle Hessig is a punk original. I was so happy to have a chance to talk with her.
By the time you read this, Silver Sprocket’s reissue of The Cruising Diaries will be available. Janelle illustrated the sexual misadventures of Brontez Purnell (who Daryl and Johnnie Jungleguts interviewed in issue #116 of the ’Cake). This reissue is just one of the topics of this interview, which was a blast. While transcribing, I was struck by how much both of us laughed. (Despite the intervention of my neighbor’s leaf blower—dammit, Bob!)
This is the ninth installment of Paging All Punks, in which I talk to writers about punk rock.
Interview and intro by Michael T. Fournier
Video edited by Lauren Denitzio
A CA20 Installment
A Collection of California Artists’ Voices in the New Decade
Funded by the California Arts Council
This interview ran in Razorcake #121