Best of MTL: Walter Scott

Cult MTL talks to comic artist Walter Scott about his character Wendy, anxieties about the art scene and life in Vancouver.

Walter Scott’s Wendy character.

Our esteemed readers voted Walter Scott #4 in our Best of MTL poll for Best Comic Artist, which is no surprise given that the worlds he creates in his Wendy comic series reflect the day-to-day lives of many part-time artist Montrealers. His character is an aspiring art star, getting smashed and laid at vernissages and happenings around the city. Executed in punky black and white, her trials and anxieties and benders and bad decisions mirror many of our own.

While still beloved in Montreal, Scott has recently semi-relocated to Vancouver. Cult MTL asked the artist a few questions via email.

Emily Raine: Can you tell me a little bit about the genesis of Wendy? I know you’ve talked about this elsewhere, but could you say a bit about why you choose to tell these stories from a female perspective?

Walter Scott: Wendy was supposed to be a one-off character to make my hungover friends laugh, but I started to draw more of them, and she took on a life of her own. She is a woman because it is a way for me to channel my desires and anxieties through a female avatar, which is a kind of drag performance. My art pals Jo Reid and Julien Ceccaldi seem to be doing similar things, Jo with his Chun-Li/Celine Dion fantasy-scapes, and Julien’s jacked-up amazon anime club girls. So I guess you can say it’s part of a small gay Montreal canon now!

Trendy Wendy, the second installation in the Wendy series.

In pop culture, people don’t seem to expect much from the blonde pretty “arty” girl. There are constantly opportunists paid to scour through 20-year-old people’s tumblrs trying to see what they can sell back to them. Wendy’s misadventures are a way to wrestle the grip of the female form out of the hands of “design blogs,” “tumblr radar,” and “photoshoots” by creating a kind of flawed, shitty, puking, crying, character who is a vulnerable, loving person despite her (let’s be real) amazing fashion sense.

ER: The stories you tell seem very Montreal. How do you think Wendy would change in a different city?

WS: Actually, Wendy recently moved to Vancouver, so it might be interesting to see the differences and similarities between the two cities. Will people still like Wendy if she takes up jogging and gets wasted less?

ER: How much would you say that Wendy’s anxieties about the art world are like your own? Is it a parody/satire, or is it a way to channel these so that you can just get your own shit done?

WS: Wendy’s anxieties are similar to mine. But they are also projections of like, “What if this happened?”, so then I create a fictional narrative about it. Like this recent story I did where the Curatorial Assistant Job she applies for is filled by a 15-year-old instead. The idea of “Wendy” versus “My Other Work” makes it sound as if the two have the potential to converge into some kind of Akira-like mass and explode into one aesthetic singularity. Maybe I’ll get more Canada Council grants if that happens.

ER: What else are you working on now? When does the next installation drop?

WS: I’m in Vancouver right now. I’ve been at the beach hanging with dead crabs, or in my studio listening to trumpet emo. I’m working on Wendy part 3, which will be published sometime next year with Koyama Press, as one big book compiling all three Wendy stories into one volume. And I’m also making some sculptural work for an exhibition here in the fall. For now, readers can still see new Wendy material on Hazlitt, Random House’s online magazine. It’s a lot of her trying to keep it together in Vancouver. ■

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