Interview: Alexis Barrera! »
Alexis Barrera is a photographer and cartoonist living in New York and he’s totally vegetarian! You can check out his comics at Oaktowncrack.com. He’s my new pal and was kind enough to do an interview for vegansaurus!
Where were you born?
I was born in Mexico City and lived there for 11 years before moving to America. I hear that’s like smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 11 years.
When/why did you move to SF? How long did you live there?
My parents moved to San Francisco in ‘88, and I stayed with them until ‘94 when I moved away to college.
When did you move to Oakland?
I moved back to San Francisco in ‘99 and then over to Oakland in 2000. I stayed put there for 9 years.
When/why did you move to New York?
After 20 years in the Bay Area, I was starting to feel like a townie. I wasn’t ready to settle down, so it became time to make the obligatory pilgrimage to New York.
I moved to the Greenpoint YMCA on April Fool’s day of 2009 and moved to Manhattan 10 days later. The residents of the YMCA could really use some advice on nutrition, let me tell you.
How long have you been vegetarian?
I hated most meat as a kid, and would only eat hamburgers and hotdogs as a teenager. I stopped eating meat altogether in the fall of ‘96.
Are you vegetarian for health, environmental, animal rights reasons, or a combination?
Initially I quit for health reason, but nowadays when I guilt-trip carnivores I also bring up animal cruelty and the environment.
Do you ever include a vegetarian message in your comics?
Definitely. Here’s an example [“Munchy” left; drawn after watching Super Size Me].
Do you have a day job, or do you draw comics full-time?
I’m a programmer by day; the rest of the time I think of myself as a sequential artist.
I’m better known for my photography than my drawings, but it’s all the same to me.
Who are some of your favorite cartoonists, vegan/vegetarian or not?
The best vegan cartoonist I can think of is Dan Piraro. I’m not sure what R. Crumb, Keiji Nakazawa, or Art Spiegelman eat…but it probably had a nervous system at some point.
Can you draw animals really well? Can you draw me as an animal? Will you do a portrait of Figaro for free? Yes?
Here’s a daguerreotype of Figaro on his way to the opera, circa 1877:
[Megan Rascal note: AWESOME!!! Exclamation point!!!]
My two tabbies live in California with their kitty mama. They were abducted from a feral colony when they were kittens, and are inseparable, as you can tell from this photograph:
What is your favorite animal?
Besides my tabbies, I’ve grown quite fond of French Bulldogs, the official pet of the city of New York.
Favorite vegan food to make?
I’m a terrible cook, but my housemate makes delicious ratatouille.We don’t eat it with cheese.
How does New York compare to the Bay Area, in terms of vegan and vegetarian food?
I haven’t lived in New York long enough to make a fair comparison, restaurant-wise. So far I haven’t had trouble finding meatless meals.
Based on food options alone, which is your favorite comics show to travel to?
Wondercon in San Francisco is within walking distance of a trillion good eateries.
Any tips for traveling cartoonists?
Find a place to stay on couchsurfing.com…and don’t walk around with headphones at night, that’s always a terrible idea.
Do you have one drawing tip to share?
I put together a cross-hatching tutorial here.
What’s the deal with Oaktown Crack Comics?
Society marginalizes drug addicts while encouraging all other forms of over-consumption. Crackheads, tweakers, and junkies aren’t any more evil than investment bankers and obese couch potatoes [Ed.: That’s half of our writers. Watch your back, bro!], so we should all be more tolerant and focus on harm reduction instead of arbitrary law enforcement. Oaktown Crack Comics attempt to depict drug addicts more accurately and with a little compassion.
Life in SF seemed to play a big role in your comics, do you think New York will have a similar influence?
I like to think that my comics aren’t particularly SF-centric, but rather slum-centric. New York’s fringe scene is less overt and the authorities here are disgustingly oppressive, so I’m sure I’ll be drawing comics about that soon.
What exciting upcoming projects can we look forward to?
I’m writing an instructional booklet on using 3D software to create 2D comics and animations that look hand-drawn.
Further down the road, I’m trying to combine Naked Lunch and a modern physics textbook into some sort of sci-fi graphic novel. I’ve got a bunch of scripts about what happens in between Big Bangs.
Any questions for Vegansaurus? Anything!
Know where I can get good vegan winter boots? I don’t want my toes to fall off.
A: Check Steve’s men’s winter boot round-up!