Spawned by a design student's self-published comic series, My Brain Hurts has garnered a following of devoted fans across the country. The second volume of Liz Baillie’s collection, which was released earlier this month, picks up with its page-turning mix of teen angst, tricky relationships, tested friendships, underground punk shows, and a few harsh realities, all set in New York City's punk underground. How did the anthology to your series come about?
Liz Baillie: It started out that I was printing it myself as a mini-comic -- it’s like a Xeroxed, stapled thing that you do yourself. Then I contacted Microcosm Publishing because they already do distribution for mini-comics and zines, so I wanted them to distribute my comic version. They liked it, and after I had been putting out several issues, the earlier issues started to go out of print. Since it’s an ongoing story, it’s kind of hard to follow along, so they approached me about doing a book collection of the first five, at least, just to put something in print so people can read it.

Why did you choose New York for this story?
I grew up in New York, so when I started doing My Brain Hurts, it was the first long comic I had done. I was still in school -- I went to the School of Visual Arts for cartooning -- so I had been making comics at school. You know, a couple of pages here and there, but I wanted to do a long story, like a book, and serialize it. So the first thing that came to mind was a slice of life with stuff that I’m familiar with. I created characters that were composites of people I’ve known, or experiences that I’ve seen or that have happened to me. I basically created a list of all the different kinds of topics I wanted to cover, and I just kind of broke it into an outline. I really just wanted to make a long story that I hadn’t seen already. I never really read a book that had characters like that. It was all about creating a book that I would want to read.

Yeah, the characters felt authentic. I take it you came up from the punk scene growing up in New York?
Absolutely. I got into punk rock because I have an older brother -- he’s five years older than me -- and he’s been in a number of really popular bands in New York. He started taking me to shows, and he bought me my first tapes. The coolest thing he would do is get me into shows that were like, 16 and over, or 21 and over, when I was just 14, because he was in all these bands that were popular in New York. I definitely came up in high school and college, and even now, submerged in the punk rock stuff.

Tags: Books