Robin Enrico is known for his quirky comic Jam In The Band, a story about a sassy all-girl band named Pitch Girl. He is a talented artist born from the multifaceted world of music and DIY culture. We yearn for more comics like Robin’s. Here is a recent interview with this indie cartoonist:
Dre: When I first saw your comic Jam In The Band online, I was really surprised to see your characters handling a flyer for a BUST magazine party. Could you please tell me why you decided to do that?
Robin: That’s actually based on a real flyer Christy Road did for Ladyfest East back in 2005. I had just moved to Brooklyn, and was walking home from work when I saw that flyer out front of Union Pool. It was probably the first show I ever went to in Brooklyn, and it was also the show where I ended up reconnecting with some super cool gals I had known in college who are now in all-female bands. Which I suppose is really the genesis of the idea of writing about an all-female band for Jam in the Band.
Dre: Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Robin: I am hesitant to call myself that. I don’t think it’s a label I really get the right to apply to myself. I have predominantly female friends. I primarily make art about women. But at the same time I am a straight white male. If the work I am doing is seen as feminist, then it is because I am making art that reflects the women in my life, all of whom I would view as feminists.
There isn’t an ideology behind my actions and I feel uncomfortable proclaiming myself as feminist. If my work is seen that way, great, but I don’t make work with a feminist stance in mind. I write about women as I know them to be.
Dre: As a male author and illustrator how does it feel to compose a story that feels so feminine?
Robin: I would never actually label my art as feminine. I don’t think of it as such. I make work about people: flawed, emotional, shortsighted, selfish, caring, passionate, driven and occasionally transgressive people. Those people just happen to be women in the stories I have worked on.
The other part of it is, I don’t really understand the world of men. I have some pretty stereotypically male interests (video games, wrestling, bad action movies), but I always feel like an outsider. I am also not interested in talking about that world in my work. I think the plight of alienated straight white men has been represented well enough in the comics medium. I would rather step back and let other types of characters shine.
If the drawings themselves are seen as feminine, let me assure you, I literally know no other way of drawing. I put pen to paper and cutesy circle head people is what comes out.
Dre: The character I identify with the most is Bianca, the front-woman of Pitch Girl and the story’s protagonist. What is the inspiration for this character?
Robin: In many ways Bianca is my stand-in. Singing in and being in a band is a more exciting subject to write about than making comics. I get asked about this sometimes, but it never felt strange to write myself as a woman. She is a character who is driven by her desire for fame and artistic satisfaction even if it comes at the expense of her personal relationships. A scenario that I have had to play out time and again in being an artist. Is being goal driven an entirely male character trait? I don’t believe it is. Not in my experience.
Also, I am interested in tragic and flawed characters. Characters whose greatest strengths are also their greatest weaknesses. I feel like this is a role that usually gets assigned to the super heroic or noble male character. Again, it was much more interesting for me to write this archetype as a woman.
Dre: I heard through the grapevine that you are the head librarian of the zine library at the DIY space The Silent Barn. What is that like?
Robin: I feel like, as you get older in youth-culture scenes (I’m 32), you become subject to a certain scrutiny about your place therein. If you are a lifer, it becomes vital that you give back to the scene that nurtured you. Music and zines and DIY culture in general have been so important to my survival in my 20’s that anything I can do to ensure there is a place for these things in the future is high holy work for me. The ‘zine library has been a nice outlet for a more bookish type like myself to stay connected with and to share ideas and information with a place that has as vital and energetic an artistic culture as The Silent Barn.
Dre: Which artists have had an impact on your work?
Robin: Rodney Greenblat is probably the initial kernel of all this. I certainly remember having my mind blown by the art and character design he did for the Um Jammer Lammy game back in the 90’s. I think a lot of the look of my art can be traced back to him and to Junko Mizuno. Who, funnily enough, I believe I learned about through an issue of Bust in the early 2000’s. I tend to respond to imagery that is not, say, “edgy-cute” but more cute with an “otherness” or “strangeness” to it that is not put there in a cynical way. Beyond that, V.Vale’s RE / Search books are pretty huge for me in terms of showing the very human side to people who could be seen as outsiders or transgressive. It made people like that near and dear to my heart and exactly the type of people I wanted to write about.
Dre: Where and when can people see your work in person in the future?
Robin: I will be at the Brooklyn Zine Fest in Williamsburg on April 21st, The Purchase Zine Feast at SUNY Purchase on May 5th, and the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD in September.