Zinester Spotlight: Gabrielle Gamboa

The greatest thing about conventions is that they bring artists together. And these artists are not only talented craftsmen, they are also amazing individuals. Gabrielle Gamboa is no exception. I had the privilege of meeting her at the Latino Comic Expo, when she and I were on a Zine panel, alongside Jaime Crespo. Honestly, I don't know why I was asked to be on that panel, because my knowledge and experience with comics and zines paled by comparison, and I had little to add to that conversation, so I ended up asking them more questions than the audience did. How could I not? I wanted to know everything about these artists.

Gabrielle talked about her love for music, and how she stumbled into Punk fanzines in the late 80s. She "fell in love with the immediacy of zine publishing, and the intimacy of being a zine reader," so she created her own. Gabrielle became a part of the Puppy Toss Comics publishing collective in the early 90s. She hasn't stopped creating comic zines since then. I am always deeply moved and entertains when I read her zines. Her work has a strong narrative aspect to it. The visual work only makes her story-telling stronger. She takes people, and all of the things she loves - music, film, literature - and packs it into a tight little 24 page package. Each page is so rich, that words and images will stay with you throughout the day.

What roles do music and literature play in your creative projects?

Older generations had mythology. Since the advent of mass media, we have pop culture. I have absorbed and synthesized the media I grew up with into my own personal narratives. In some ways, all of that is just as real to me as events that happened in my life. I was also a library nerd who would spend all summer gorging on novels. When the dvd happened, I became that way with movies instead. I don’t think it’s laziness, I just think that to a visual person like me, cinema is very seductive.

Your characters vary from teenage rock stars to writers. How do you choose the people and stories you want to illustrate?

When I find myself thinking constantly about an idea, I know I need to make it happen. Other times, I just work with whatever obsessions I am geeking out on at the time. I think I choose to focus on creative people for characters because I can relate to them. I also find that the older I get, the more I enjoy narratives about the creative process, so my work deals with that topic more and more.

One of your zines, Miss Lonely Hearts, is based on Nathanael West's novel. Why did you choose this novel?

I adore this novel because it asks the big existential questions, offers no real answers, and yet is darkly funny. I find it comforting. To adapt it into a comic, I have to remove or reinterpret West’s stunning prose. That is just the nature of the medium.

What is your current project?

I am continuing to adapt and publish Miss Lonelyhearts chapter by chapter. I am also working on an original graphic novel, the most ambitious project I’ve ever taken on, which is both exhilarating and terrifying.

What do you like most about SF Zine Fest?

I love the sense of community and collaboration that Zine Fest creates. This is something we could have only dreamed of back in the Factsheet Five days. Factsheet Five was a zine from the 1980's and 90's that reviewed zines and gave contact information on where to get them. It was one of the few ways to find out about new zines in the pre-internet days. Getting your zine listed in it was key in those days. The bad part is that there is so much great quality stuff at Zine Fest that I can’t buy it all. But I’ll probably still try.

To check out more of Gabrielle's work, make to visit her online at:

SFZF is also happy to announce that Gabrielle will be at the Cartoon Art Museum this Thursday, August 23rd for the Latino Comics Expo's "Noche de Latinas." We hope to see you there!