A "Bay Area Bloomer"

Though I’m actually an original GenX-er, I got to be an honorary baby boomer in The Monthly  in October. The quotations sounded somewhat intelligent, so I excerpted them here… with illustrations!Monthly cover

“Cartooning is actually theater that hasn’t happened on stage yet,” says Caven. “I love the written word and language. Cartoons are like little idea containers.”

Caven naturally sees the little dramas that make simple pictures into a compelling story. She draws squiggly-lined doodles that exude a natural charm, even when tackling weighty subjects like philosophy or revolution. In Atomic p. 1college, her philosophy insights got noticed—as did the way she expressed them. When professors handed out writing assignments, Caven completed them as comics. Her senior project was a graphic novel entitled The Reason She Left.
“I was very fortunate to have some professors who were very supportive,” says Caven. “But they never knew what to do with me. They thought of me as something of an oddity.”
“I had been the campus cartoonist [at the student newspaper] during my few semesters at Mills, and I fell back into that persona. I did what came naturally: I drew,” Caven says. “I visited blockades, listened to stories, and put all the funniest bits together in one place.”
mills revolution cover
“The remarkable thing about the student strike was a mutual respect on both sides,” Caven says. “The trustees never called the police or criminalized the students. On the students’ part, there was a notable lack of name-calling.”
“I’m more of a facilitator than a finger-pointer.”
“[The book] is a fun little document from what it’s like inside a revolution, but it also shows how the protesters organized in ways that would be good for any revolution,” Caven says, explaining the cartoons’ continuing resonance with people. “My cartoons may feature plenty of female characters and concerns, but they appeal to anyone with a funny bone.”
DSC_6011“Being in the family business is still a challenge and I’ve gone through periods where I want to get a real job instead,” Caven says. “It’s hard separating mom from co-author, but it’s really important when we get in a tight spot that we realize whether it’s a genuine disagreement or an ego battle. In some ways, it’s easy because we know each other so well that I can almost read her mind.”
Souls logo animated lg“Cinderella’s stepmother is the best example of bad parenting in literature,” Caven says. “It’s really about parenting and sibling rivalry and stepfamilies. I reached out to friends who were stepmothers and I realized—that’s the hardest job in the world, parenting someone else’s kids. She just doesn’t get it but you can understand where she’s coming from.”
“I follow my interests,” Caven says. It’s a philosophy she follows in life as well as art. “My theory is that there’s the right medium for the highest expression of any idea. I want to do something in every medium. One thing leads to another.”

“My goal is to play for a living.”

Photos by Margaretta K. Mitchell, margarettamitchell.com
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Photos by Margaretta K. Mitchell, margarettamitchell.com

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