'Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace' at Minneapolis Indie Xpo

'Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace' at Minneapolis Indie Xpo
Photo by Tiffany Rodgers

This weekend marks the second-annual Minneapolis Indie Xpo (MIX), a two-day comic fest at the Soap Factory. With its low cost to table for artists and free admission for guests, it's the best convention to shoot the shit with independent, small-press, and web-comic creators. Some of the seminars held at the event include Book Design for Self Publishers by the Center for Cartoon Studies, DIY Perfect-Bound Books by the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, and New Tools for the Indie Artist by Wet Paint Art Materials. To gear up for MIX, City Pages caught up with Nicole Lorenz, illustrator of Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace: a body-positive coloring book, who will be tabling at the event.

What gave you the idea to create Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace: a body-positive coloring book?

This project was entirely motivated by peer pressure. I was at WisCon last year, a feminist sci-fi convention in Madison. There was a panel on the depiction fat body types in science fiction. One of the panelists, who was a friend of mine, asked why there were no fat butches in space. I had my sketchbook with me, and while the panel was going on, I was sketching. I drew Sincerity, who's the character on the cover of my coloring book, and I showed it to a friend, who said, 'You need to draw more of these!' By the end of the weekend, I had three or four of them in my sketchbook. Someone else said, 'I want a coloring book of these,' and now I'm looking at a new dream in life, which is to become a coloring-book tycoon.

'Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace' at Minneapolis Indie Xpo
Photo by Tiffany Rodgers

What are your thoughts on the depiction of your characters here?

My main goal in depiction was to show powerful fat women who are cool with their bodies. They could be sexy or not sexy, they could be whatever they wanted. They could be defeating a giant space squid with a laser gun.

What surprised me was people's enthusiasm. There's a worry when you're doing something with the word 'fat' in the title that people will take it as an insult because it's a loaded word. But it shouldn't be. One of the models was a friend of mine that I've known for several years. I've had so many conversations with her about her weight, the struggles with trying to diet, and about feeling like crap about how she looks just because she's over a certain weight. It's hard to listen to someone you love do that. I know I do that myself, and I'm trying to get out of that. But she volunteered, and loved her page.

The week after this came out, I got this really kind review from a blogger, who pointed to this page specifically and said, 'That's my belly. I have a shape like that, and when I looked at this I thought, 'Damn, she's sexy!' My friend heard that, and was just tickled pink.

Will you be releasing more coloring books in the future?

I just got back into school, and I'm working most of the time as well, but I just started work on a second coloring book, called Unicorns are Jerks. There will a sequel -- possibly two sequels -- to Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace.

'Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace' at Minneapolis Indie Xpo
Photo by Tiffany Rodgers

When I designed [Fat Ladies], I put the word out on social networking sites and to my friends in person, and asked, 'What do you guys want to see?' Five of the pages where modeled after women I know. For those particular pictures, I asked the volunteers what they wanted to be. The Superhero is my friend Wendy, who said, 'I want to be a bad-ass superhero, and I want a small fuzzy companion animal.' I said, 'Done,' and that became the picture of the unicorn dog. She was pleased with the unicorn-dog.

I'm doing a similar thing with Unicorns are Jerks, where I'm just asking people, 'What are examples of jerky things that I could draw unicorns doing?' And they're like, 'They're eating all your left-overs!' 'They're double parking!' Like I said, it's peer pressure. It can be a good thing sometimes. When you've got people poking you and saying, 'You should do this project, y0ou should finish this project, you should do another project,' it's a lot easier to get things done. There's enthusiasm coming at you from all sides. I'll probably also do one called Dinosaurs with Jobs.

What's the importance of humor in your work?

I remember being a very serious child--I don't know how that happened. The first short story that I ever wrote was about a mouse who fell down the stairs and died. It was a tragedy. It wasn't funny at all. I read it to my dad, and he didn't get it. I think somewhere along the line I got the idea that art and stories, if they were going to be good, needed to be sad and meaningful. It's just such bullshit. The coloring book is one of the silliest things I've done, and it's also one of the most meaningful. Because people look at something that's silly -- that's not taking itself too seriously and still accomplishes something in a small way -- and they're affected by it. It's a good balance to strike: including fun and a subject that you care about. A message is easier to ingest, if it has a sense of humor attached.


Minneapolis Indie Xpo
Saturday, Nov. 5, Sunday, Nov. 6
The Soap Factory
Free,  10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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