Sep 10, 2018
In 2009 Keiler Roberts began putting out a series of self-published minicomics that she titled Powered Milk. These were brief stories and scenarios where she represented the experiences she had as a mother, wife, and friend. Many of the situations were observational in nature -- for example, some of her Powered Milkcomics were one-panel expressions of something off-beat and telling that her daughter, Xia, had said -- but occasionally she would illustrate longer narratives that concerned her life as a mother. She has gathered these earlier minicomics in collections such as Powered Milk: Collected Stories and Miseryland. Last year, however, Keiler began turning to book-length format and publishing her Powered Milkstories, what she continues to call her work, through Koyama Press. In fact, Sunburning was one of the texts discussed last year during the publisher spotlight on Koyama Press’ spring 2017 releases. And this week we’ll see the release of Keiler’s next book, Chlorine Gardens. It’s a work that’s certainly in the Powered Milkspirit, but this book is notable in that Keiler engages more in long-form storytelling than she does in her previous comics. What’s more, and as Derek discusses with her, Keiler brings a structure to the various stories and observations that is more apparent than in the past. In this interview, Derek talks with Keiler about the evolution of her comics-writing, the role of journaling or diary illustration in her work, the process she undergoes in creating her stories, and the power -- as well as the limitations -- of exposing herself and her loved ones as subject matters for her narratives. Keiler has been on the podcast before, albeit briefly, during the 2016 Small Press Expo, an event at which she won an Ignatz Award for Best Outstanding Series, but this is a special occasion in that Keiler gets to discuss her work in a longer, more sustained manner.