SBCF 2023 Interview: Barbara Benas

Throughout the month of October, the Cartoonist Cooperative will be sharing interviews with members of the Co-op who have a new comic available at the ShortBox Comics Fair 2023

NOTE: The Cartoonist Cooperative is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way formally connected with ShortBox.

Cartoonist Cooperative: We’d love it if you could introduce yourself and tell us about your background in comics.

Barbara Benas: I’m Barbara Benas– professional animator, Emmy winner, and budding comics creator. I’ve dabbled in comics for a while on the side while working in animation, but have recently dove more seriously into making comics as my main outlet for my personal art practice, and I love it. I’m super grateful for the lovely responses to my comics so far–my short comic “you meet in a moonlit clearing…” (about meeting internet friends from the neopets roleplay boards) won the autobio category in the 2022 Minicomics awards, and shortly after that I was accepted into the ShortBox Comics Fair 2023! 

CC: Tell us more about your new comic!

BB: Bottom’s Up! is a comic about ~stress~ by way of a too-long, overshare-y recipe blog post. Could it also be….? a metaphor? for something? my life? anxiety and overwhelm around making things? Who’s to say.

CC: Tell us about your creative process; how did you develop this comic and what are the steps you took to bring it to the final stage?

BB: I had created a TV show pitch about a stressed out lamb chef named Suzette way back in 2012 (that I never actually pitched!) and I still enjoyed the concept and characters I’d come up with, so I reconfigured it into a comic–which was a really interesting process creatively. Comics and animation are really closely linked in a lot of ways, but adjusting to the ways in which they’re different was an interesting task–for example, in comics, absolutely nothing is restraining you from writing as much dialogue/narration as your heart desires–whereas planning dialogue-heavy animation requires a lot of potentially unpleasant logistics like finding and paying voice actors, recording, etc.

The actual process of making the comic was a little chaotic, since understanding how much time I need to complete a comic is also still a learning process. I believe you can get a good sense of my process and mental state in the final product.

CC: Can you tell us about your newest projects/projects you have in development? Feel free to plug anything here as well eg. socials, website, etc.

BB: I’m working on a few new comics that are in various stages of dress, but really I’m most looking forward to relaxing for a bit–preferably in a small hole or tree knot, with some kind of hay stem jaunting out from my lower lip.
The best way to find me online is my site, or @illomati on most social media.