Ask most people to name a female cartoonist and they’ll be hard-pressed to come up with even one name. Ask local cartoonist Tatiana Gill and she’ll gladly share a whole list, including Roberta Gregory, Pheobe Gloeckner, Mary Fleener, and Gill’s mother, Claire Montrose. Gill describes them all as funny, honest, heartbreaking, and talented, and it’s in that spirit she’s curated a collection of comic art to commemorate Women’s History Month, which this year celebrates Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment.
Born and raised in Seattle, Gill studied art at Evergreen State College after graduating from The Northwest School, but she’s been drawing ever since she was a child. According to Gill, her mom, a cartoonist turned stained glass artist, wasn’t just an early teacher but an inspiration as well. Her mother also happened to be friends with Gregory, who introduced the family to underground feminist comics, a theme that eventually would influence Gill’s own cartooning.
“I have always done “slice-of-life” comics, both fictional and autobiographic,” says Gill. “In recent years I have pulled more directly from my day-to-day mudnane experiences, instead of singular narratives or events from my past.“ While it may be self-expression that fuels her comics, she seems to have struck a chord with her audience. “I didn’t realize how many people shared my feelings. I like to discuss the things that people are frightened to discuss, because they make us vulnerable.”
A talented illustrator and photographer in addition to cartooning, Gill uses her art as a show of strength as well as vulnerability; her work frequently highlights the “amazing women” in her life including friends, family, and fellow artists. Gill is perhaps most committed to reflecting the diversity of women so often underrepresented in the media. “Every time I see a cool depiction of a woman who, like me, is outside the mainstream image, I feel better. I want to spread that kind of cheer around to other women!” No doubt those illustrious women in history would approve.