Another incomplete blog post left in draft. Plenty of incomplete and trite thoughts here.
It’s hard to recall exactly when I became aware of Molly Crabapple. It feels like it’s been a long time, but after reading Drawing Blood, my memory doesn’t seem reliable. It’s probably from Warren Ellis dropping her name into an interview or blog. Her art interested me, but the fragments of material I was exposed to seemed little too twee and goth for my tastes. It was during Occupy that Crabapple won my interest. I still have a naive belief in most of the people who stepped up at that time to make a statement. I’ve scrambled to keep up with her new phase of journalism, but missed some significant pieces. She seems to be diving into every issue and crisis exploding now.
Drawing Blood is a revelation. She’s not quite who’d I thought she was. When she took off to Turkey in her teens to draw the ruins of a castle she’d once seen in a book, it became clear that there were going to be more than a few surprises. It was a little freaky that she was in Europe roughly the same period I was, except when I became severely ill and stalled in Cardiff, Wales, Molly was hopping around France, Italy, Spain, and Morocco, even spending a few stints at Shakespeare & Co. I was awed, as she pulled off what I intended to do at nearly half my age at the time and probably fewer resources at her disposal. (I already knew a few people in Europe, one who provided enormous support when I fell ill and faltered.) Crabapple was reeling off books I wouldn’t get to for a few more years. Her fearlessness and precocity were inspiring.
Then the naked girl years in New York City… it’s still interesting reading, but it felt… backwards? She honed her craft, nurtured and learned from relationships. There was a feel of her entering a cocoon. I was a little confused, as I thought NYC was already very gentrified at that point, but what do I know?
The Box. Fuck the Box. I get that Molly was in love with the spectacle and the genius of the performers, but this era is enraging. Fuck bankers. Fuck stock brokers. Fuck hedge managers. Fuck all of those decadent, amoral parasites. My long-burning puritanical loathing of the elite of the new gilded age made these chapters revolting.
Occupy onwards is a blur in the book. Crabapple shaking off her torpor to throw herself into every event she senses to be significant is a relief. There aren’t enough Joe Saccos in the world, so it’s cool to have a Molly Crabapple. Her channeling her art into journalism feels right. Vice isn’t exactly a trustworthy news source, but I mostly stomach them because they’re providing a platform for Crabapple and those like her.
Her art. It falls in line with her life. The early and late perod illustrations, I dig. Strong lines. Lots of life in them. The mid NYC period? Not so much. That pseudo-Victorian, gothic tweeish material always feels a bit icky. My dalliance with that type back in the early and mid ’90s fuels that revulsion. Marianne Faithfull and Nico are magnificent. Neil Gaiman’s Death is awkward.
Anyway, as fun as her memoir was, it feels slightly premature, but it’s a useful shedding of her past incarnation. She feels better suited to activist journalist.