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An Interview with

Michael Sweater

Published 2024

(Photo by ???)

According to a dictionary, a sweater is a "knitted garment typically with long sleeves, worn over the upper body." That is obviously totally wrong. A sweater, more specifically, Michael Sweater, comprises the brain and drawing arm behind such comics as Everything Sucks!, Puppy Knight, Please Keep Warm and many more.

Not convinced enough? Then forget the dictionary and read the Reglar Wiglar interview with Michael during which I ask him several questions about where he's been, where he's at, and what he's been up to.

Interviewed by Chris Auman

Everything Sucks #1 Everything Sucks #2 Everything Sucks #3

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RW: I believe you live in the Ozarks. How did you land there, are you from the area?

MS: I have spent about half of my childhood here and half with relatives in Philadelphia just bouncing back and forth. There was a period of my adult life where I was moving every single year to places like Vermont, and Florida. But as I've gotten older the city and other places have lost it's appeal so I've actually been here for the longest stretch I've ever been this time and I can't imagine moving any time soon. I was embarrassed of being from a rural area for a long time but now that I have calmed down I can really appreciate it.

RW: How remote is it where you live and how has that experience been for you? Pros? Cons?

MS: I live in a pretty rural location. Without revealing my exact location, it's a town of under 3,000 people but it's within half an hour of a few decently sized places. It's hard to give concrete reasons why it's good or bad because my feelings on everything change frequently. It's definitely cheaper to live and make the kind of work I want and I don't have to worry about anything throwing a wrench into my life. It's great to be able to wake up and look at deer and birds before sitting down to draw. And it lets me explore making books that might not generate enough money to survive in other places.

I also get to spend my time working on projects that don't really have any potential of making any money. Above anything else the freedom to spend my time on whatever project I want is more important to me than whatever access I might have to cool bars and more people I might get from a city.

RW: Does living there enable you to work more, work better, and have fewer distractions, etc?

MS: It's chaos. I am constantly in a state of trying to implement a schedule that lasts for a few weeks and falls apart. But it's been like that for a decade now.

I can't really stick to a schedule because the down times really bother me. If I am not working on something I get anxious and bored. So it's usually just a rotating mess of me working on a task for an hour or two and reading or walking around anytime I am not asleep. And the things I am working on change around based on my mood. Some weeks it's all music, some weeks it's all comics. Realistically there will be no order or reasoning to how I spend my time until I have kids.

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RW: What was your first comic or artwork that you were really psyched about?

MS: I don't remember. I have a pretty poor memory of my own work. When I go back and reread my old stuff I am usually surprised at what I was doing. Sometimes in a good way, but usually I am just confused about my choices.

RW: What is the one-off or series you’ve done, solo or as a collaboration, that you’re most proud of?

MS: There really isn't anything specific. For me, the process of making things is the THING, not any particular outcome. I am nowhere near hitting any ambitions I might have for my work.

Right now it's my Everything Sucks comics, but that's just because I can see how they are an improvement over my previous books. But when a book or song is done it doesn't really exist for me anymore. I am always more excited to be working on the next thing.

Comic panel by Michael Sweater

RW: You were or are/were an avid gamer, including MMO and RPG games. What were the first games you got into and why did they appeal to you?

BL: These days I will usually play one game through over a few weeks once every three or four years. But if I get into anything I do it the same way as art so I have to be careful. If I do anything it completely consumes me.

As a kid, I was very into MMO's like Everquest and Ultima Online. Any games that were based on planning and effort that were long grinds just appealed to my personality. I also found out as an adult that I needed glasses which unknowingly was the reason I couldn't play shooters. I couldn't see anything!

RW: Do you think video games subconsciously influenced your art?

MS: Absolutely. My visual language for better or worse is more influenced by video games than comics or movies. My intuition is to draw everything from a more top-down perspective like older video games. Even my closer-cropped panels you can almost always see the floor and not the ceiling.

It's actually something I am trying to break away from a little bit, but I actually think by chance it's mostly a good thing because it's incredibly legible. If I wasn't interested in the challenge of new angles I would probably not even bother changing it up. I like how it looks.

Comic panel by Michael Sweater

RW: You played in punk bands as well. What was your gateway into that music (bands/albums)?

MS: It's hard to say. My memories are always very hazy and ambiguous. As a kid, I found a copy of Korn's Life Is Peachy on the side of the road walking home from school that opened me up to heavier music. I actually think my entrance to punk was finding a copy of Anti-Flag's Die for the Government at a park.

I played in a lot of punk and punk-adjacent bands but I've never really had a strong connection to the actual music. I was specifically attracted to punk because the musicians I met doing that were more do-it-yourself kinds of people and that mindset really appealed to me. It felt like something I could just grab onto and engage with in a way no other music did.

RW: What bands were you involved with and are you still active in playing music in any way now?

MS: I don't really like to talk about specific bands I was in because I don't think a lot of the music was particularly good and there are very embarrassing pictures of me with a mohawk and goofy jackets.

The first serious band I was in was a queercore band called Fruit Punch and they really introduced me to the idea that you can put in effort and make things happen without permission. I have recently gotten serious about music and have started dipping my toes into the water of touring and recording again.

I am in a heavyish more '90s emo band called Always Tired where I sing and play guitar that I've had a lot of fun driving around with. I am also playing guitar in a band with some friends called Supermodel that is kinds of like Neutral Milk Hotel meets Jimmy Eat World, and I am recording a few solo records to release under the name Guilt World that are just all of the things that I write that don't fit for Always Tired.

I've actually been having a good time because music forces you to be social and it's not something I will do if left to my own devices.

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RW: Do you listen to music while you draw and if so, what in particular gets you in the flow state?

MS: I listen to podcasts and YouTube videos while I draw and when I am writing I will listen to music sometimes or just do it in silence. When I listen to music I will usually only listen to music. If it's on when I am drawing it's usually some kind of Soundcloud rap or top '40s country. Music isn't something I can have on as background noise because it will always get my attention and stop me from doing things.

RW: Can you talk about your current comics projects and what you may have planned for the near or distant future?

MS: Yeah. Right now I am writing the second Puppy Knight book a comedy for kids. The first book is almost finished being drawn by my friend Josue Cruz who is one of the best artists on earth.

I am working on more Everything Sucks stories. And I am pitching another book I am writing that a friend is drawing literally tomorrow.

It's hard to say what my plans are at any given time because I only work on things that are getting my attention and it's impossible to predict what that will be when the time comes. I imagine I will continue doing Everything Sucks for the next decade so if I was going to promise anything it would be that.

Comic panel by Michael Sweater


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Baltimore's mellow yet dynamic duo, Smoke Bellow

Acid Nun creator, and horror afficianado, Corrine Halbert

Punk comic strip workhorse, Ben Snakepit

Real live zine action hero, Liz Mason

Santos Sisters tag team, Greg & Fake and Marc Koprinarov

Comics artists and Cola Pop Creemee's Manager, Desmond Reed

Interviews from the Archives:

Hate bringer Peter Bagge.

Ghostworld creator Dan Clowes.

Underground comics legend Gary Panter.

Gross-out king Johnny Ryan.

Magic Whistle mastermind Sam Henderson.

Eno & Plum creator Terry Laban.


Reglar Wiglar

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