Interview with Isabella Rotman

This week, I had the opportunity to talk to Isabella Rotman, illustrator and comic artist. She’s written several zines including Animal Sex, You’re So Sexy When You Aren’t Transmitting STDs, Fireworks, and many more. We met over raspberry cream Oreo crust pie at First Slice.

I was really interested in talking about two of her texts: Animal Sex and You’re So Sexy. Previously, I had done academic work into informative texts, namely Chilean Socialist Comic Books, and Cuban poster propaganda. I’m fascinated at creative ways to inform people about various topics. How do you make it interesting and useful? I’ve collected works from around the world that deal with education such as comic books about voting, water rights, and even a comic book textbook. 

Both of Rotman’s zines are manage that tension of being both funny and informative. Animal Sex is a comprehensive look at sex in the animal kingdom from banana slugs to pandas. It even has a page dedicated to the penises in the animal kingdom (both alluring and terrifying). You’re So Sexy is an inclusive and hilarious discussion of safer sex. It doesn’t just focus on pregnancy prevention. It includes information for LGTBQ people, information about safe use of sex toys, and much more. You should definitely check them out.

She talked about how You’re So Sexy has become a text distributed at various universities including Columbia College, SAIC, and other universities.  She just released a new comic Not On My Watch: The Bystanders Handbook for the Prevention of Sexual Violence; it’s her response to all of the stories and data coming out of universities and colleges about sexual violence. The zine strives to empower bystanders to be alert and get involved to help prevent sexual violence. It tries to give ideas on how to assess and handle situations. I hope she builds an entire empire of books like these two! There's such a need for them!

Isabella Rotman was extremely generous and let me peek at her sketchbooks. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity. One thing we discussed was how she represents her self. In several works, she depicts herself as a mermaid, a homage to her childhood by the ocean. But she also mentioned that she previously had depicted herself with antlers. However, she doesn't combine them. I wondered if each representation was tied to how she felt about herself at the time. Very fascinating.

 That's just a tiny snippet of our conversation! Check out here work: