Stepping Into “Jane’s World” with Paige Braddock

Jane's World Creator Paige Braddock

“I really wanted to go to art school but my parents were afraid I’d turn into this flaky
artist, so they made me go to a state school so I’d get a well-rounded
education,” says Paige Braddock, who became a comic book artist.

She is the creator of Jane’s World—a
comic now in its 24th volume that is also available online and has been
translated into French, Spanish, Italian and Swedish. It will be
featured in upcoming exhibits in Madrid and Milan and one currently
running in San Francisco. It has been nominated for an Eisner Award,
the Golden Globes of the comic book world.

The motley cast of characters that populate Jane’s World
are a diverse bunch with intricately intertwining stories. Jane herself
is someone who is easy to identify with, particularly if you have a
healthy touch of self-deprecation. “People can more easily identify
with a likable loser than someone who’s perfection incarnate,” Braddock
says.

Before the books, when Jane’s World
was still a strip, Braddock says the main character “wasn’t gay enough
for gay papers but she was too gay for straight papers.” Braddock had
to hustle for the few spots available in alternative newspapers, facing
intense competition that put her up against the likes of Alison
Bechdel. “Even though she and I are at opposite ends of the lesbian
spectrum,” Braddock says, pointing out that “I’m slapstick and she’s
more political.”

“There isn’t enough lesbian slapstick out there,” says this resident of
Sebastopol, a small town about 50 miles north of San Francisco. “What
I’m doing is sort of a backlash against how serious Northern California
lesbians are.” Seen this way, Braddock should be getting an award for
her community service.

Other Jane’s World characters may be serious but Jane is the antithesis to stereotypical lesbian staidness.

According to Braddock she’s not the typical dyke:
she isn’t politically correct, hates vegetarian restaurants, eats
donuts, and doesn’t understand women. “She’s a vehicle for poking fun
at all those strains in our culture—but not mean-spirited, just
clueless.”

Braddock
says a reviewer recently referred to Jane as “the lesbian heir to the
hard-luck Charlie Brown, somehow always winding up as the punchline in
her own comic book.” Of all the Peanuts characters the
too-obvious choice for comparison with Jane would be queer icon
Peppermint Patty. But Jane is more of a Charlie Brown who just happens
to be a lesbian.

Braddock
had never considered the Charlie Brown-ishness of her character, and
the analogy struck her as not only apt but an amusing coincidence.
Unbeknownst to the perceptive reviewer who drew the parallel, Braddock
spends her days at Peanuts headquarters. She is senior vice president and creative director for Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates.

For nearly seven years Braddock worked full-time for the Schulz studio and spent her nights and weekends immersed in Jane’s World. But this year she cut back to three days per week at her day job in
order to devote three full days to working on her books. Apparently she
manages to squeeze in some rest on the seventh day, but she completes
twenty pages of drawings per month.

In addition to the books, new
panels are available online daily.

People sometimes conflate artist and subject, addressing Braddock as if they
were talking to Jane. Braddock admits that Jane embodies one facet of
her personality. But it shouldn’t take long for most fans who meet
their hero’s creator to realize that, while Jane is goofy and often
oblivious, Braddock is whip smart with a delectably dry sense of humor.

Braddock says Jane “gets to be the voice inside my head that I sometimes
silence.”

She adds: “You know when you hear someone say something
that’s really dumb? Or sometimes you want to say something that
politically incorrect and just run with it and you censor yourself?
Well, Jane’s uncensored.”

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