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Jessica Abel Drew the Books on Storytelling

Episode 197 – Jessica Abel Drew the books on storytelling

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Jessica Abel was born in 1969 in Chicago, Illinois and was raised in the Chicago metropolitan area. She published her first comics work in 1988, in the student anthology Breakdown. She would then later venture into the world of minicomics, by self-publishing and  photocopying, her hand-sewn embellished comic book Artbabe in 1992. Four annual issues followed, with Jessica also winning a Xeric Foundation grant to self-publish and distribute her #5 issue. This was to be the her first professionally printed issue of Artbabe, and was subtitled The Four Seasons. Abel came to the attention of Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth, who then offered to publish Artbabe.

Jessica created the five-issue, 250-page series La Perdida, which was then published by Fantagraphics Books between 2000 and 2005 as a five-part mini-series. She also taught undergraduate cartooning courses at the School of Visual Arts for a number of years, and also gave workshops at other locations, which included the Ox-Bow Summer School of Art. 

Drawing a Life

Jessica is the founder of the Creative Focus Workshop and the Autonomous Creative Collective. She is also the author of Growing Gills: How to Find Creative Focus When You're Drowning in Your Daily Life, and the graphic novel La Perdida. As well as two textbooks about creating comics, Drawing Words & Writing Pictures and Mastering Comics. Abel also collaborated on Life Sucks, written with Gabe Soria and Warren Pleece. In 2015, she published a sequel to her 1999 comic Radio: An Illustrated Guide called “Out On The Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio”

Her book titled Out on the Wire shares how the best radio and podcast producers in the world are using story to keep us listening. Jessica’s most recent work of fiction is the Eisner-nominated Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars. She is also chair of the illustration program at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. We hope you enjoy all her storied wisdom!

Out on the Wire Podcast


“Chronic” Bender © 1993. Jordan Beltz,
Sharon Maloy, Stuart Grais, and Jessica Abel


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