Animator, illustrator, and a self-made comics author with an edgy but empathetic flair, Alabaster Pizzo’s work is known for its quirky, lowkey surrealism and a unique blend of pop culture critique with more profound meditations on existential quagmires — often rooted in events from her own life. Pizzo was featured in Best American Comics 2015 and on Vice.com 2016, and Retrofit Comics published her acclaimed graphic novel Hellbound Lifestyle in 2016 — all before her 2018 move to Los Angeles. Here she has pursued a career in animation as an artist and developer at Netflix. Last year, Mimi and the Wolves, Volume 1 was published by Avery Hill Publishing, collecting the first three installments of the Mimi adventures, which she’s been publishing DIY since 2013.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
ALABASTER PIZZO: Always. My memories go back very far, to when I was a toddler. My parents are graphic artists, which helps. I used to draw comics and narrate the text to my Dad before I knew how to read or write. These still exist somewhere…
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
So far my major works have all been pretty different in theme. I like to write characters that are comfortable with each other. I like to write about what it’s like to live in a city. I like to write about what it feels like when you’re unsure and confused. I like to write about the little pointless things people do to distract themselves.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
Wow, I don’t know. I’m in awe of people who are good at more than one thing. I think maybe I’d like to be a very good cook.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
Yes, but I wouldn’t recommend it. If you are interested in studying comics I would suggest attending The Sequential Artist Workshop in Gainesville, Florida or the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont. Or just look at a bunch of comics and meet other cartoonists. Don’t spend $120,000 on a private 4-year art college.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
I moved to L.A. from New York City to begin working in the animation industry, which has welcomed me with open arms and treated me very very well, after years of struggling to make a living from editorial illustration and sales of my comics. I’m the kind of person who needs to be in a metro area of 10 million people. I miss the density of New York but I appreciate that I can walk through neighborhoods here that aren’t thronged with tourists. I love how run down, dusty, multicolored, covered in random plants Los Angeles is. It takes me forever to get to work on the bus, but I do some of my best daydreaming then.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so what?
I listen to mostly synthy, electronic, dance-y stuff. I love Italo-Disco. if you look up “Aunt Pam” on Spotify you might find a few playlists I’ve made.
Website and social media handles, please!