Unveiling the Surreal Saga: A Conversation with Craig Yoe on his Autobiographical Comic “WOMAN & MAN+”

photo output 89 scaled - Unveiling the Surreal Saga: A Conversation with Craig Yoe on his Autobiographical Comic "WOMAN & MAN+"

Join us as we delve into the extraordinary world of Craig Yoe, an acclaimed author, publisher, comics historian, animator, and multiple Eisner Award winners. With accolades from prestigious publications like Publisher Weekly and endorsements from industry giants like Jim Henson and Stan Lee, Craig Yoe’s creative journey has been nothing short of remarkable. Yoe’s artistic footprint spans continents and generations, from his groundbreaking contributions to the underground comix movement to his illustrious career with iconic brands like Disney and Nickelodeon.

As he embarks on his latest endeavor with Clover Press, we can explore Yoe’s surreal autobiographical comic, WOMAN & MAN+. This Kickstarter project promises to be a captivating blend of surrealism, sensuality, and introspection, offering readers a glimpse into Yoe’s innermost thoughts and experiences.

But before we embark on this journey, there’s a call to action: support Craig Yoe’s Kickstarter campaign for WOMAN & MAN+ and become part of a groundbreaking artistic revolution. Let’s dive deep into the mind of a visionary artist and uncover the secrets of his captivating creations. 

Unveiling the Surreal Saga: A Conversation with Craig Yoe on his Autobiographical Comic "WOMAN & MAN+"
Comic “WOMAN & MAN+” © Craig Yoe

Conversation with Craig Yoe

Toons Mag: Can you share the inspiration behind WOMAN & MAN+ and what inspired you to create this surreal autobiographical comic? 

Craig Yoe: WOW! Your word” inspiration” really jumps out at me! I always think of that as a happy word, an “EUREKA!” moment. The moment when a lightbulb brightly lights up and floats over a gleeful head— as wacky cartoonists like to depict it.

But, the secret origin of this surreal underground comic hardback book, “Woman & Man +,” was not that. Dark clouds and a broken heart floated over this old ink-slinger’s headbone during its creation. I wasn’t inspired to do this. I was driven to draw this book of therapeutic, surreal comics to bring a balm to my sorry ass.

Toons Mag: WOMAN & MAN+ has been described as “bizarre,” “transgressive,” and “degenerate—in a good way!” What can readers expect from this unique and unconventional graphic novel? 

Craig Yoe: They can expect the unexpected. The surreal approach to the art and layouts and what happens inside—and outside—the bizarre panels are full of surprises. What happened on each page sure surprised me! When I began each page by lightly outlining blank panels with my mind blank, I had no idea what the mad muse would compel me to fill them with. 

I only knew that the finished page would somehow reflect in my visual diary my psyche for that day. 

photo output 91 scaled - Unveiling the Surreal Saga: A Conversation with Craig Yoe on his Autobiographical Comic "WOMAN & MAN+"
Comic “WOMAN & MAN+” © Craig Yoe

Toons Mag: How does WOMAN & MAN+ differ from your previous works, both in terms of style and content? 

Craig Yoe: I have never been involved in creating something so personal. Ironically, this self-centered automatic auto-bio will, I think, relate to the readers who dig into it.

While creating the book/diary, the background of my life was fleeing the U.S. and trying to find a new life, first in Berlin, then in the Canary Islands, and now in the Philippines. Amid that struggle, my long-time love decided she wanted to move on to other life adventures without Moi.

I was devastated.

Most people, like me, have sometimes had relationship ups and downs and severe losses in life, and need to explore new vistas so the reader/viewers will find relatable parallels in their own lives in “Woman & Man +.”

Toons Mag: Can you walk us through the creative process behind WOMAN & MAN+ and how you brought your vision to life? 

Craig Yoe: It was all old school… paper, pen, and ink. Each day over two years, I’d set a blank piece of paper in front of me, tightly grip a pen, and hang on for dear life as I bled on the European A1 size, extra-white, 2-ply Bristol board.

But the resulting content was not always “shits,” but sometimes “giggles.” On most of these pages, there’s at least one upbeat, even fun moment, sometimes symbolically sexual, or sexually symbolic, and always metaphorical, as I tried to march forward with positive thinking.

photo output 92 scaled - Unveiling the Surreal Saga: A Conversation with Craig Yoe on his Autobiographical Comic "WOMAN & MAN+"
Comic “WOMAN & MAN+” © Craig Yoe

Toons Mag: Your career spans various creative fields, from animation to graphic design to comics history. How has your diverse background influenced the storytelling in WOMAN & MAN+? 

Craig Yoe: All my different, hopefully worthy, life forms are reflected in the work… having a brush with being a sewer worker; serving as a camp counselor to blind people; then being an anti-war activist; being a nightclub owner; a hippie minister; a Muppet; an animator; a comics historian; a writer, designer, and a publisher. What could be lower than being a sewer worker? I have now devolved into a comic book artist. Yoe is me.

Toons Mag: What themes and motifs do you explore in WOMAN & MAN+, and why did you delve into these aspects of your life? 

Craig Yoe: The book is about dealing with change and losing love. It reflects my lifelong obsession with comics and their form. All this while rebelliously trying to reinvent comics along with myself.

Toons Mag: WOMAN & MAN+ has been in the making for quite some time and has traveled with you to different countries. How has this global journey shaped the narrative and visual aesthetic of the comic? 

Craig Yoe: Living in different countries gives you unique, enlightening perspectives. IMHO, every American should at least try to vacation abroad. I figured YOLO—Yoe Only Lives Once, and I don’t regret trying my best to be Marco Pol-Yoe.

Toons Mag: What challenges did you face while working on WOMAN & MAN+, and how did you overcome them? 

Craig Yoe: Aside from the hardships of being in a difficult life situation, when I started “Woman & Man +,” I was trying to learn how to draw and hopefully not embarrass myself with the shortcomings of my skills—that was a ginormous hurdle.

I wonder if every honest artist would agree that drawing every page is daunting. And you frustratingly never come within a mile of perfection. But, maybe for some lucky few, drawing comes easily. Damn them!

Toons Mag: Clover Press has described WOMAN & MAN+ as having a “Yoe-Brow” art style that breaks conventional comic storytelling rules. Can you elaborate on this unique artistic approach and what differentiates it from traditional comic art? 

Craig Yoe: “Woman & Man +” takes a surreal approach to telling my story and the art itself. Not only is the content dream-like (at times nightmarish when my life went there) but so are the panel breakdowns and the so-called “word balloons” in this wordless graphic novel.

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Comic “WOMAN & MAN+” © Craig Yoe

Toons Mag: Lastly, what do you hope readers will take away from WOMAN & MAN+ after experiencing this surreal and trippy journey through your life and art? 

Craig Yoe: I didn’t draw “M&W+” in a usual way, and the reader shouldn’t try to “read” it traditionally either—they risk breaking an eyeball. They can jump from page to page and back and forth. They can start and end anywhere they choose. The readers can read a page a day like I was living it or devour it entirely at a sit-down. They can read it upside down or in a mirror. They can read it in a box, with a fox, here or there—they can read it anywhere!

If they want, the readers can deeply dive into the symbolism and figure out what is being communicated and how that might be applied to themselves. I hope they take the “Woman & Man +” seriously and laugh at its nonsense—like life itself, mine.

I hope each reader closes the book with a sense of wonder and a modicum or more of hope.

Call to Action: 

Don’t miss your chance to join Craig Yoe’s artistic revolution! Support the Kickstarter campaign for WOMAN & MAN+ and experience a surreal, sexy, and trippy autobiographical comic like no other. Visit the Kickstarter page now and pledge your support: Craig Yoe’s WOMAN & MAN+ Kickstarter

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Written by Sondre Borg

I'm Sondre Borg, but you can call me Sondre. I'm a cheerful Norwegian Digital Nomad and writer, ready to embark on exciting adventures through words and pixels! 🌍✍️

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