Cathy G. Johnson
My name is Cathy G. Johnson. I'm an artist in Providence, Rhode Island, where I make comics, drawings, prints and books about confrontation and sincerity. I draw inspiration from my life and my community.
My first graphic novel, Jeremiah, debuted in 2013, and was published by One Percent Press in 2015. My second book Gorgeous was published by Koyama Press in 2016. My upcoming book The Breakaways is coming from First Second 2019.
In addition to my artwork, I am also an educator and organizer. I teach various art classes and workshops throughout New England and North America. On June 3, 2017 I earned my masters degree in Teaching & Learning in Art & Design from the Rhode Island School of Design. I am a founder and organizer of the Rhode Island Independent Publishing Expo, which was awarded a project grant from the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts in 2015.
"There’s a truly conversational tone to Cathy G. Johnson’s dialogue, which, when combined with her raw and expressionistic art, creates an immersive sense of being “there” with her characters. Johnson’s loyalty to activist punk scenes clearly informs her subjects, which are so often pitch-perfect representations of young people making sense of living in a system that doesn’t value them. Her stories wrap around central ambiguities, the elusiveness and power of human connection, and the sometimes frightening lengths we’re willing to go to find them. Bold and messy pencils and paint fill her compositions with an infectious energy that drives further reflection on the questions her stories raise long after you’ve put the book down." - Kimball Anderson and Laurel Lynn Leake, Inaction Comics
2014 Ignatz Award Winner for Promising New Talent.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you draw with? I like to draw with pencils, mostly. I'm a collector of pencils and erasers, and have lots of different kinds from art stores and office supply stores. However, plain yellow #2 pencils are still my favorite! I ink using Rapidograph pens, and sometimes brushes. I never use expensive brushes, and just pick up the cheapest ones I find on sale at art stores. Small watercolor brushes are best for inking.
What do you write with? I write in all sorts of notebooks! Just like my drawing materials, I'm not picky, and love to try all sorts of different sketchbooks. No lined paper, though! My favorite brands for sketchbooks are Muji and Moleskine, but I'll try anything. After I write in notebooks a bunch, I start to transfer my ideas to a writing computer program called Scrivener. You can learn more about it here!
Where do you get your ideas? I get my ideas from observing the world around me. I'm very lucky to get to spend time with lots of different people in my community. I also visit schools a lot, and get to talk to teachers and students all the time. When I'm writing different characters, I like to think about what their lives are like. Everyone is so different, but we all can understand each other if we try hard enough. This is how most of my stories start!
I think what's important is trying out all sorts of stuff, and seeing what's best for you and your style! Just because this is the way I do it, doesn't mean you have to do it this way!
What are your favorite books / comics? I love to read all sorts of stuff! I read comics and manga all the time, in addition to books that are just words. My favorite genres are romance, slice-of-life, and historical fiction. Sometimes I'll read fantasy and science fiction. My favorite authors are Annie Proulx, Iris Murdoch, Imogen Binnie, John Darnielle, Hermann Hesse and J. G. Ballard. My favorite poets are Frank O'Hara and Eileen Myles. For graphic novel recommendations, I have a reading list here!