A Brush with Creativity: A conversation with Lawrence Lindell

Lawrence Lindell is a California-born and raised cartoonist, educator, musician, and artist. His work focuses on Blackness, mental health, and queerness. 

Lindell contributes to The New Yorker, SF Examiner, and Razorcake and has been involved with DIY publishing for over a decade. His self-published work has been featured in museums and art exhibitions and nominated for the Believer Book Awards and the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics. 

He founded Laneha House with his spouse, Breena Nuñez, where they publish comics from themselves and cartoonists online through their Open Mic series. Through Laneha House, he co-founded the Kinnard Awards in 2022 to honor pioneering Black queer cartoonist Rupert Kinnard. 

In the fall of 2023, he published his debut graphic novel, “Blackward” (Drawn and Quarterly). “Blackward” focuses on a group of queer and nonbinary Black folks who take matters into their own hands and create a space where they can be a hundred percent who they are: Black, queer, and weird. 

“Blackward” is a 2024 Lambda Literary Award finalist in the LGBTQ+ Comics category. It is also a finalist for the Jacqueline Woodson Award for LGBTQ+ Young Adult and Children’s Literature. PrideIndex interviewed Lindell via email; here’s what he shared with us. 

PrideIndex (PI): In two sentences, tell me exactly who Lawrence Lindell is. 

Lawrence Lindell (LL): Not possible. Lol. I’m a human doing the best they can, I suppose. 

PI: Share your earliest memory of drawing comics. 

LL: At age 12, I made my first comic company, Xtreme Comics. (Laughs) It was a bunch of old Image Comic ripoffs. I used to draw each copy by hand using ink pens and colored pencils. 

PI: You are forthcoming with your regards to your issues of depression and PTSD; why is that important to reveal to your readers? 

LL: It’s less important to reveal to readers and more so important for me. Being transparent helps me live my life as my whole self. 

PI: Congrats on your Lammy nom for Blackward.” Do you plan on attending the event? 

LL: Thank you! No, I am on the other side of the country in California and will likely be working. 

PI: What takeaway would you like your readers to retain from Blackward?”

LL: To have fun and enjoy the book. I just want it to be something that brings joy.

PI: Talk about your creative process and how you develop ideas for your writing? 

LL: It depends on the project and my mental health. I usually do a lot of work when I have small bouts of mania. If I am on a downswing, I typically make comics about what I am feeling at the time. I put all my ideas on the page in the rough draft for the book and then sent it to my editor. They send it back with notes, and then I work on it. 

PI: How long does it take to write a comic novel?  

LL: It depends on the comic. Depends on what is happening in life. When I was working on “Blackward,” a lot happened in my life. And I also have to factor in the additional process with my editor. But “Blackward,” the final book, was made in 4ish months, the rough draft was worked on for a year, and then the webcomic it was based on was created and drawn for 2 years. 

PI: What do you like to do when you’re not writing or drawing? 

LL: More drawing! Lol, listen to and make music, play with my daughter, play video games. I watch TV shows and movies with my family. Sleep! 

PI: When and where do you plan on promoting Blackward?” 

LL: It’s been out for seven months, so I already did a tour for the book last year. My publisher, D+Q, has done a great job getting the book into libraries, bookshops, and schools. 

PI: Is there anything else you would like to share? 

LL: Sometimes, because I do this for work as well as fun, I forget to keep having fun. I wrote a book about Black joy, but sometimes I forget to celebrate my own Black joy. So, I want to do more of that.