About the Author

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 ”Artist Renée French is one of those creators whose work is very unlike anything else that can be found in comics.”
-Alex Deuben, Comic Book Resources

 

Renée French lives in California with her husband Rob in a beige-colored house. The best birthday present she got as a child was a giant box of art supplies as big as her body. Growing up, she would play hooky from school in order to lie on the couch all day and draw—which, in fact, is exactly what she does all day long now. Renowned as the author of many books of comics for both adults and children (including H Day, Micrographia, and The Ticking), she’s been nominated for best artist by the Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz Awards.

 

Like Polarhog, she has always loved blue Popsicles. The ants in this book are inspired by ants in her own neighborhood, who she’s certain must be busy decorating something, somewhere.

 

 

Renée and Nadja talk about

playing hooky and where Polarhog comes from

 

 

NADJA SPIEGELMAN: What drew you to certain children’s books when you were a child?
RENEE FRENCH: I really liked the scary stuff when i was a kid. I loved looking at the drawings. It’s wonderful, when you’re being read a book as a child, when you can stop and go inside the page for a very long time. When you can find all the little secrets inside the drawings.
What would be your ideal way to spend your birthday?
At the movies all day long, sitting in the back, with root beer and popcorn.
Have you ever had a surprise birthday party?
Nope, never.
What is one of your favorite birthday presents you’ve ever received?
When i was little, my favorite presents were always art supplies. One year I got a giant box of art supplies, as big as my body, filled with markers and pencils and crayons. It was like a moving box with handles, and back then it seemed so big to me that I could have gone swimming in it.
Did you draw a lot when you were younger?
This is bad, but I would play hooky so that I could stay home and draw. I’d lie on the couch and draw all day — which, actually, is exactly what I do now.
When did you realize it could become a career?
I was in seventh grade when i realized I wanted to be an artist. I stapled a little book together, a story about witches. Then it suddenly made sense to me — I could make books. It was always about telling stories. I did do stand alone drawings, but not as many. I thought “maybe I’ll be a cartoonist” — but I was thinking more a MAD magazine. I didn’t know that underground/alternative comics even existed until one of my university teachers showed me RAW.
Where did Polarhog come from?
In New Jersey, we had these groundhogs outside the house and they’re not very smart. They’re really stupid, actually. They did things like dig holes close to the house which was not good for the house. We got a trap and our idea was to trap the groundhog and then drive him out into the middle of the woods and release him there. We set up the trap with some lettuce in it but squirrels kept coming and stealing the food out of the trap from the side with their little hands and then running away laughing. And the groundhog, he was really not getting the idea that he could go in and get the food. He would just walk all around trap. We set it up right outside his hole. One day, my husband called from work – he had forgotten to fill the trap so he asked me to go put some lettuce in it. I went outside, and there was the groundhog – in the trap! There wasn’t even any food in it, he’d just wandered in! Groundhogs are really cute in this do duh do duh do kind of way. I began drawing a lot of groundhoggy characters. One year, it was winter, and I thought it would be really funny if there was a white groundhog, so I drew this funny white groundhog to make Rob laugh. Rob called him Polarhog and it stuck. I just kept drawing him. He was a goofy groundhog kind of guy, but really, Polarhog is not as stupid as those groundhogs were.

 

Other Works

French is best known for her provocative adult books like Marbles in my Underpants from Oni Press and The Soap Lady, The Ticking and Micrographica from Top Shelf. Her short stories have been published in numerous anthologies including Kramer’s ErgotRosetta and Top Shelf Asks the Big Questions. Below are a few pages from her book, H Day.

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h_day_1-4h_day_6.6