Ellen Forney

From the moment you set foot in Seattle, you can feel it: art is everywhere.

The thriving arts scene is a priority in this city—in fact, Seattle has been recognized for having more arts-related businesses and organizations per capita than any other metropolitan area in the U.S., according to Americans for the Arts. Cartoonist Ellen Forney is one of the contributors to this creative city. Read on for a look at the city through her artistic lens.

Q&A with Ellen Forney

How long have you lived in Seattle? What brought you here?

I’ve lived in Seattle since 1989. After growing up and going to college on the east coast, I wanted to see what living on the west coast was like. I’d heard good things about Seattle, figured I’d just move here and see what it was like, and fell in love with the city! Later, when I decided to follow my calling as a cartoonist, this was a great place to be—there’s a very active comics community here.

Are there venues or events you recommend for those interested in the graphic novel scene?

The Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery in Georgetown is terrific, and the manager, Larry Reid, is very knowledgeable and a total character. He has a cameo in my latest comic book, Marbles. There are plenty of other events in town—Emerald City Comicon has all sorts of comics, GeekGirlCon is a new and growing convention focusing on women and girls in comics and gaming, and Short Run, for self-published comics. The literary organization Richard Hugo House houses ZAPP (Zine Archive and Publishing Project), a library of over 20,000 (!!) zines, comics, and small press publications.

Does Seattle influence your work in any way?

Seattle plays a major role in my latest book. I enjoyed including a lot of local landmarks, like going for walks in the Arboretum, learning yoga at Seattle Yoga Arts, my local yoga studio, and Parlor F, my friend’s tattoo studio. I’m glad to have a city that matches my interests and sense of humor, and I’m very thankful to The Stranger, our alternative weekly newspaper, for publishing, nurturing, and encouraging my work since 1993. Getting the Stranger Genius Award in Literature in 2012 was a very meaningful vote of confidence for me.

If you had one day to show Seattle to a visitor, where would you take them?

Volunteer Park, for sure. It has so much to offer. The park is gorgeous and multifaceted, with beautiful trees and grassy fields that are perfect for lying on a blanket and reading. The Seattle Asian Art Museum is beautiful inside and out. The Conservatory is a total gem, with orchids, exotic tropical plants, a room of huge and tiny cacti. There’s also the Black Sun sculpture, overlooking the reservoir, which inspired Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” and is a perfect place to watch the sunset. I could go on! It’s an amazing park.

Is there any one place in the city that truly represents “Seattle” to you?

The Capitol Hill neighborhood. It’s the artsy, funky, queer part of town, and I’ve lived here almost the entire time I’ve lived in Seattle.

Anything you love doing when you’re not working?

In the summer I LOVE swimming in Lake Washington, going for walks or bike rides with my sweetheart on the Burke-Gilman Trail, readings at Elliott Bay Books or Town Hall, and hanging out in Cal Anderson Park (another of Seattle’s many spectacular parks).



Interview by Jess Van Nostrand, 2012.

Photo taken at Capitol Hill art studio.



Seattle cartoonist Ellen Forney shares a bit of information about her artwork commission at Sound Transit’s new Capitol Hill light rail station.



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