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!
Who loves bunnies and dormice and cephalopods and German vegetarians? This week’s link-o-rama loves them all, of course! »
Events! Things to do!
Have you adopted a rabbit yet? If not, don’t worry, you have another chance on Saturday, Sept. 4, when East Bay Rabbit Rescue teams with Harvest Home Sanctuary and the House Rabbit Society for a massive art show and adoption event! From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the East Bay SPCA at 4651 Gleason Dr. in Dublin, you can browse and buy bunny artwork, and meet your new best friends like little baby Elmo here, who is only three months old! The art show will continue through the end of the month.
SF Zine Fest returns this weekend! It’s awesome, it’s free, and our own Jonas is a longtime organizer so attendance is like telling Jonas he’s great, which shouldn’t be hard because duh, he is. Our Laura will be there with the very first issue of Fat Zine (read about its creation in The Bold Italic!) Plus you can check out other Friends of Vegansaurus, including Susie Cagle, Family Style, Jen Oaks, François Vigneault, and Zine Fest special guest Jesse Reklaw! Zine Fest is located in the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park, at 9th Avenue and Lincoln Way; it’s open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 4 and 5. Visit the site for information on workshops, panels, special events, a complete list of exhibitors, interviews, and more!
Update! Davey Surcamp of future vegan bakery A Fire Inside is holding a fundraising vegan bakesale on Monday, Sept. 6 (Labor Day!) from noon to 4:30 p.m. at Haight and Ashbury Streets. Buy a snack, support the bakery, which we REALLY WANT, YOU GUYS. Afterward he’ll host a vegan potluck in Buena Vista Park at 5 p.m., noting please that while everyone is welcome, all attendees will need to bring both a vegan dish to share (duh) and their own dinnerware. So there’s your three-day weekend covered, you’re welcome!
Most of us San Franciscans have friends and relations in other states worrying us about THE BIG ONE and whether we’re READY FOR IT, but hyperbole aside, we ought to be minimally earthquake-ready—at least for your pet’s sake. To that end, a panel of Disaster Preparedness Coalition for Animals reps will hold a discussion on “Preparing Yourself and Your Animal Companion for a Disaster” on Wednesday, Sept. 8 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room in the Main Branch of the SFPL. The Main Branch is located at 100 Larkin St, and the Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room is on the lower level of the Library.
Hello, Tidbit! At one whole year old, Tidbit is fully grown and a whopping two pounds. We understand that he loves to meet new people, and cannot be kept away from his toys. Tidbit is a rescue bun with Harvest Home Sanctuary, meaning our friend Anne has vouched for his character, and if she says he’s confident and happy, he most certainly is. Do you have room in your heart and home for little Tidbit? (hint: YES)
Articles! Things to read!
Remember when we asked you last week if you’d rather eat a GM “salmon” or “willingly donated human meat?” Guess what, we’re geniuses: that was, essentially, the question the VEBU wanted everyone to ask, and being vegans, we got it. Wir sind gleich! We’re also gleich with scientists who are proving that cephalopods are conscious beings. They might even dream, you guys. What do you suppose squids dream of? What would an octopus’ dream look like? Your Vegansaurus will admit to welling up a bit, considering animal minds.
A mountain lion made the mistake of venturing too near “popular restaurants and shops in the north side” of Berkeley on Tuesday morning, so city police, to quote Brock SFist, murdered it. Definitely the right choice, straight-up bullets. Even though the ortolan is an endangered species, it’s such a fancypants delicacy in France the government still ignores hunters—how can you stop people from eating something so delicious? Even if 50,000 tiny birds are slaughtered annually, each of which sells for up to £120 on the black market—it’s about TRADITION, and CUISINE, something animal-loving barbarians would NEVER understand. Across the Channel, the entire U.K. is up in a bunch over having to build bridges to allow tree-dwelling endangered species like dormice to safely cross giant motorways, once the giant motorways have been built right through the dormice’s habitats. Considering how super-extra-endangered Britain’s remaining endangered species are, the public may want to consider more serious measures. You jerks had better not kill off all the Mrs. Tiggywinkles. In Israel, a bill that would have banned “the production, processing, import, export and sale of fur from all animal species not already part of the meat industry” will now most likely be withdrawn, as member of the Knesset Menachem Eliezer announced his party no longer supports it, despite a clause added by the bill’s sponsor, MK Ronit Tirosh, to allow fur imports for religious purposes (such as the shtreimel worn by ultra-Orthodox men). Dang it, religion: no matter what country or what deity, you’re always making things difficult.
Do you read Paula Deenisms? Maya Goodwin, unfortunately, is an ex-vegan who believes that “[v]eganism is a dietary preference that is, in realistic terms, reserved for those who are fortunate enough to afford such an expensive diet.” Boo, Maya Goodwin. As an interested party (one of your editors also works for The Morning News!), I am disappointed the interviewer (who is my pal) didn’t press her on this point, but of course, we have separate agendas. On the other hand, did you read the good news from old crazyface John Mackey? “[Whole Foods will] introduce a private-label line in 2011 based on the healthy eating book The Engine 2 Diet. We’ve licensed that brand. It’s vegan (no animal fats) with no canola or safflower oils, and low in sugar and salt.” YOU GUYS MORE VEGAN FOOD AVAILABLE IN MORE AREAS HOORAY HOORAY. Mackey remains a creep who probably hates fat people and is clearly obsessed with oils—which make your hair look pretty, dude, look into ingesting some—but you bet your ass your Vegansaurus supports his move to bring more vegan food to the people. Like (organic, vegan) Brooklyn Salsa: NYC vegans, check this stuff out! The company uses Glen Industries to make the salsas, which employs people with disabilities, helping them “to realize their goals of where and how they learn, live, play, and work, Glen Industries creates an environment of independence, productivity and integration.” Jesus christ, my heart. [BK Salsa info from Shut Up, Foodies!]
Plumpy’nut: when we last looked at Plumpy’nut, Congress was not happy about its creator’s proposal to let her Tanzanian factory produce it—what about the precious U.S. farm bill? In a new article, we get a broader view of the complicated business of Plumpy’nut. Internationally, there are complaints that the company that owns its patent is too strict with how it licenses the product, and that the $60-per-child-per-two-month-treatment cost is too high. Then there are complaints from the U.S. peanut lobby, who aren’t getting in on any of the action, and from other parties who don’t believe in for-profit “therapeutic foods.” Yes, it contains milk, but it is a very effective vegetarian supplement; kids love it, and they can eat it at home instead of at a clinic. What do you vegans think: better Plumpy’nut for kids, or something like Heifer International for families?
Right, and McDonald’s food does not visibly age. Like at all. That’s your restaurant!