Transcription: 008: Lily Williams: Informing through Illustration, from Sharks to Women’s Health

This week I talk to Lily Williams about her short film FINconceivable, an award winning informational short about the importance of sharks to our ecosystem. We talk about her upcoming illustrated children’s book called If Sharks Disappear which will be published next year through Roaring Brook Press. Finally, we discuss her newly released web comic that she co-created with Karen Schneemann, called The Mean Magenta. The Mean Magenta seeks to destigmatize periods by providing entertaining comics as well as health resources.



[Narration begins]

Hi everyone, welcome to the Undefined: A Profile of a Generation. A show about young people doing awesome things. I’m your host, Marissa Comstock. The show is located at the Undefined where you can find links to our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, with episodes available through Soundcloud, Itunes, and Stitcher.

As always, thank you for listening, I have been getting some really amazing responses lately which is so cool to hear. It makes me feel like I’m doing something worth it. And makes me want to make the show even better so, truly thank you.

This week I talk to Lily Williams. We went to art school together. She is a phenomenal artist, who focused on art direction and development for animation while at California College of the Arts and has since steered more towards her true passion, which is illustration. Her illustrations are super charming but they are not just beautiful to look at, they are also informational. She has created infographics that have gone viral, you have probably seen her work floating around the internet without knowing. Her mission is to create art that teaches people about animals, about the environment, about women’s health, about a number of things close to her heart in a way that is fun and engaging.

This episode we are going to first talk briefly about her work at Sony where she worked in art development for a film called Medusa, then we are going to talk about her viral short film called Finconceivable about the importance of sharks to our ocean. this will segway into her children’s book called, If Sharks Disappear, which will be published by Roaring Brook Press in June of 2017. Finally, we will talk about her webcomic which she co-created with a fellow student Karen Schneemann called the Mean Magenta which is about destigmatizing women’s periods. You will get to hear a fun period nightmare story about little old me. So listen in, I hope you learn lots and enjoy the show.

[Theme music plays]

[Continue with narration]

We are going to quickly talk about Lily’s work at Sony and a favorite director of hers that she got to work with.

[Interview begins]

Lily: I interned with Sony starting when I was 16. So you know, it was kind of a crazy combination of things that just kind of met up in the world and the universe aligned. I went there when I was 16 in the summer and then again, I also just asked to come back. And also that was naive. It was like my first real opportunity with asking and not, like, not knowing that maybe I shouldn’t have asked, but I did. And I was like ‘hey I want to come back! like can I come back?’ and they were ‘like uh, yea sure!’ and I was like cool. I’m going to come back and then I like took them up on it. So I came back again and then I came back again, and again. So I went back four times and then eventually they brought me on after college as a visual development artist and I worked there doing costume design and character design and um, a bit of production design which is like props and stuff for almost two years. So I can’t really talk about too much because we had to sign all these forms but I did get to work on some amazing projects and I did get to work with my career bucket list director. So that was probably one of the coolest things.

I was there for, I was there for like 3 months and they put me on this movie which I was on for most of my time there which was called Medusa. Um and they, Lauren Frost who did My Little Pony as well as a bunch of other amazing things. She’s like super sick, badass feminist, like Hollywood superhero. She was a director on Medusa and, when I saw her I was like Oh my god! I want to work with her so badly! Actually I didn’t even think I thought that, I think thought, I said I want to meet her! I want to talk to her and I was, I did one day, I went up to her and said to her ‘oh my god! I love My Little Pony! It was so cute and so good! and I’m such a fan of yours.’ She was really nice and then, like two days later they put me on that movie.

Marissa: awww, what? aww.

Lily: Yea so it was like me and her and an intern for a while and then it was just me for a few months and then it was me and like the art director/ production designer. So it was, like that movie was just like a whirlwind and it was really exciting and I got to work directly with her for a while and that was like career bucket list and the coolest thing ever.

Marissa: That’s awesome!

Lily: Yea

Marissa: As far as women in animation, I remember, I can’t remember, I was at some conference or event or something and I did a reel review and I got paired with this woman from Dreamworks. I don’t remember her name but I remember just being like, ‘oh my god’ like it’s so exciting like to meet a woman who is doing to the thing you want to do and she was a rigger.

Lily: Oh my gosh.

Marissa: And it was so cool and it’s like really so much more rare than you think to meet women who are working at the level you want to be working at.

Lily: And women who have done it for a while. Like even a women who has been in it more than 5 years is so impressive.

Marissa: Mhm

Lily: I mean animation is just a really male dominated field. Factually, that is just accurate. It is a male dominated field. So to meet women who are successful and thriving at it. It’s just so cool. It’s so inspiring.

Marissa: yea and it’s like I had done other reel reviews with men and it’s super helpful, like whatever. It’s just like this oh. I can do this.

Lily: Yea. It’s like representation.

[Cut to narration]

I’m so excited to get into Lily’s personal work. She is an amazing illustrator. She did a film called Finconceivable while at her school and it went crazy viral. the film is about sharks and their importance to the ecosystem and it’s gorgeous. the style is completely original, appealing, and perfect for an educational short film. It has been in numerous film festivals, won awards, and has been shared up and down the internet and honestly, you’ve probably seen it. and if you haven’t go and watch it at I’m going to have a few clips in this episode. The narrator is delightful.

[Cut to recording of Finconceivable, a young girl’s voice narrating with a ukulele in the background]

Sharks have kept balance in the ocean for over 450 million years this makes sharks older than dinosaurs. Surviving several mass extinctions. Sharks are evolution perfected.

[Continue Interview]

Marissa: Finconceivable. That was your thesis film at CCA.

Lily: Yea

Marissa: That is amazing.

Lily: I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of it.


Marissa: totally. How did you come up with the idea

Lily: Ok so summer 2000– actually, like 2013, beginning of 2013, I just, we were given an assignment in one of my classes. I think it was a diversity studio or something and we had to do some project to like talk about some issue that people don’t talk about . um and I had, I had, something about sharks came to my brain. and then I started to do a bunch of shark art that semester. Like tons of shark art and then that summer, I met with a guy who has a um. His name is David Maguire and he runs Shark Stewards which is a non profit out of San Francisco and they actually are the leaders behind the shark fin bans in most of the states. For sure California. He is very vocal and he got that passed in California. He’s a huge advocate for sharks and fights for sharks all around the world. He’s pretty brilliant but I went and I met him at Patagonia the store. I just showed up to this talk because I found it online. Actually, I have no idea how I found it but I found it online. I found him online. I went and I like tracked him down and I was like, ‘hey! I want to do shark art for you!’ like do you want shark art and he was like sure!

Like I don’t even think he understood what I was saying and I was like, no I want to do art for you like let’s talk about this and he was like ok. And we talked about it a little bit. And I think I, actually, I left and I went and interned at Sony that summer so I wasn’t around that summer and I ended up doing a bunch of stuff with them in the fall. But during that summer I spend a lot of time thinking about sharks and trying to do art about sharks and finally after like, collecting all this information, I made these 3 infographics which went viral in certain select parts of the internet. They’ve been like all over the internet. They still are like all over the internet. And um, it was just like from talking to David and just like gathering all of this information and realizing that sharks, lots of them are in danger.

One fourth of sharks are endangered and it’s not something we talk about. We talk about shark attacks and we talk about Shark Week and we talk about, like and I mean people think sharks are like sexy, they’re like cool, they’re trendy. But like no one talks about how we are just like murdering the hell out of them. So, I just got really into that and I decided. I was making this like super sad story, and that was going to be my senior film, like this super mopey film and I was like no. I don’t want to do that anymore. [laughs] I want to do something informational. And I emailed everyone at CCA, all the teachers and was like, I’m going to do this informational, animated documentary. and that was not something that anyone had done yet and so they were kinda like umm maybe. We should talk about it. And I was like no, no I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it.

Marissa: That is what you have to say to people at CCA.


Lily: Anywhere! Everyone, just trust me. it’s going to be fine.

Marissa: Totally

Lily: So I just basically said that and ended up writing it. Many versions of it. I think it took most of the time I spent writing it. Cuz I wanted everything to be factually correct and entertaining. which is like a very hard combination to hit. I had David read it several times, I had several people who interned for David. Girls I became friends with um, I had them read it several times. And then, it like just ended just up turning into what it was after me just like ignoring everyone saying no and just being like no no it’s happening, everyone just calm down. Just deal with it. It’s happening.

Marissa: it’s such a beautiful final product. It’s like, informational, it’s so adorable and it’s just completely appealing and I actually can’t remember, we’re talking about. Like no one had been talking about sharks like that before. and I’m like ok, I can’t remember now if it’s because of your film that I know some of that stuff. I’m sure it is, there’s so much, so many people learned from your video.

Lily: yea I do think that, there has been this really recent wave that I was, just happened to be in. That wave of people getting the information out but I do think no to credit myself, not to credit myself with undue credit but I do think I did help people understand it in a way that maybe they weren’t getting before.

Because a lot of like, people really tried, when I was looking online even to put information out there about it, it’s like there is so much information that is just like gore filled images and like, that’s not, like, that’s a way to get people angry, but it’s not a way to get people to learn. So, yea the film kind of took it’s own life after I pushed it out there and I wanted it to be free and accessible, that was my number one goal. and I wish I could have it in other languages but I don’t have the resources to do that. Or the ability, or the time. and I don’t have that right now. But, um I did reach a lot of people.

Marissa: I want to ask who the narrator is.

Lily: Oh!

Marissa: In Finconceivable. it’s the most adorable voice.

Lily: Thank you! David suggested I get a child. And that, I was going to have my dad do it because he has a very like, he can be like a reporter, that kind of voice. But when David said I should get a child, I was like oh that’s brilliant! Um, but, because I was a student and it was my senior film, I didn’t have the resources to like, pay a child actor, so I asked my cousin if she would do it. She was like 10 and she like nailed it! oh my god. I just paid her with starbursts and she ended up doing so well. I was just like here’s some skittles, here’s some starbursts. and then she was in a recording booth at CCA for a few hours. We did, we ended up recording it twice cuz I made a lot of changes to the script after we recorded it and I listened to it and I was like, no. I don’t like it. So I redid the script and then she rerecorded it and she was such a trooper through the whole thing.

Marissa: And yea she’s so good. She’s like this over the top kids voice

Lily: yea!

Marissa: But it’s so perfect

Lily: Thanks, yea she did a great job.

Marissa: When was the moment when the film was viral.

Lily: I mean, it did pretty well on its own. pretty well for what I was expecting because student films can get a lot of traction online. You know, smaller schools don’t always have the same of traction as the bigger schools. So my film did pretty well for like a smaller school film but mostly just because it was getting shared by all these eco people. And then um, eventually, Upworthy shared it which helped a lot, and then it just like circled around. That kind of like unleashed fury. Unleashed fury in that it went crazy and there was all these random people then coming out of the woodwork to like find it and talk about it. So yea it’s been, yea Upworthy definitely set it off and yea it was on Greenpeace and shared by several other websites but I ended up having to pull it from Hulu on to my website just to protect it from being like pulled and stuff like that. so I made it a little more secure.

Marissa: Yea because I mean like that stuff gets shared and shared and shared and all the sudden the name becomes detached from the original project so have you found that? have you seen your work shown up in places.

Lily: yea it shows up a lot. i think it’s very cool. I’ve become definitely aware of what I want to put out to the world now on the internet. Because you never know where it’s going to end up so. It’s kind of like, if you release something onto the internet you kinda just like to have learn to let it go because you never know where it’s going to end up.

Marissa: And hope it comes back.

Lily: Yea and hope it comes back to you. [laughs] Please come back to me!

Marissa: Can you go deeper into the success you’ve had. it’s been used on panels. It’s been used to pass things in the senate.

Lily: Yea so the numbers are a great thing and you can always judge something by how many numbers it has but also it just depends on where something ends up like if it ends up in the right hands you know that can end up speaking volumes for it without the numbers. So for instance, it ended up in John Mccosker’s hands. Dr. John McCosker, he’s the um, I don’t exactly know how to say his title, so I’m going to butcher this but he’s a PhD and he’s the basically the marine science guy at Cal Academy of Sciences in San Francicso. And he took that and he, I don’t know exactly where it’s been used, because i just don’t. I just has gone places. I know that he’s used it. um, I know David has used it. I know my infographics have been used in many presentations. All over the world. I have no idea where. it has been in a film festival in Scotland. It’s been in one in San Francisco. Montana, like all over. DC. It was in a children’s one in DC which was really cool. It was screened for like a month at every single different public library which is great. That’s what I wanted. I just wanted kids to see it and become as passionate about it as I am. and get involved. Because when kids get involved you can’t help but be involved. You can’t help but be involved because they are passionate and excited about things so that was my goal. I wanted it to be accessible to everyone so by putting it on the internet it has been.

Marissa: And the original guy you talked to David, that you hunted down, what was his response to the final film?

Lily: so um, David, David, said, he’s like the nicest funniest guy. He showed up to the CCA screening. That was where it was filmed, where our senior films were screened. So he hadn’t seen anything. I don’t, thinking back on it, I guess I just didn’t show him, I don’t know why I didn’t think to show him but I don’t think I did. So he showed up and he didn’t really know what to expect. And he was like, wow, that’s so great! we have to use that! and I think he did and again I don’t, I’m not really told wherever it’s been. i know for a fact he’s used it several times. so it’s been used. I love their organization. They do a lot of great work.

Marissa: And you volunteer with them

Lily: I do. Mostly volunteered art time. But I do try to go to as many events as I can and they do have like a bunch coming up in October and November in San Francisco.

Marissa: Cool!

Lily: So they are very active there.

Marissa: And where are the events in San Francisco?

Lily: Um they are doing one with Cal Academy of Arts like a Night Life event um. They do open water swims, beach clean-ups, things like that. he calls it Sharktober, so Sharktober will be all around the Bay Area soon.

Marissa: Totally. Way better than shark week.

Lily: Yea. It’s a shark month!

Marissa: Yea, totally! And a positive spin on sharks!

Lily: Yea!

[Cut to narration]

I want to read this review of Finconceivable from the man that Lily mentioned, John McKasker who is a PhD chair of aquatic biology emeritus at the California Academy of Sciences. He says, “My efforts to educate the public and legislators about why sharks matter were remarkably assisted by the film Finconeivable that was created by Lily Williams that was entertaining, attention-getting, and scientifically accurate. And makes viewers think and care about the worldwide problems of Shark Depletion in ways that no scientists could achieve”

That’s an amazing review, I would be really proud of a review like that. Next we are going to talk about Lily’s children’s book that she is working on. She was contacted while at California College of the Arts to illustrate her own children’s book. The book is also about sharks, titled, If Sharks Disappear and it is scheduled to be published by Roaring Brook Press in June of 2017. Before we get into it, here is another clip from Finconceivable.

[Cut to recording of young girl’s voice narrating Finconceivable]

People are scared of sharks but really sharks should be scared of people. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed annually due to overfishing. Roughly 30% are killed in fishing by catch the other 70% are killed for their fins in an act called shark finning. In shark finning. Sharks are stripped of their fins and are often tossed back into the ocean where they drown. 98% of the shark is wasted. The shark fins are then used to make shark fin soup. However there is no nutritional value in a shark fin and it has no taste.

[Continue with interview]

Marissa: Ok right now you are working on a book called if Sharks Disappeared. which you are writing and illustrating.

Lily: Yes

Marissa: And the book will be published by Roaring Brook Press and released in Spring of 2017.

Lily: Actually, summer.

Marissa: Summer?

Lily: June, I think the date is June 13th 2017.

Marissa: Ok.

Lily: Yea

Marissa: That is so exciting!

Lily: Yea

Marissa: Can you talk about the book a little bit.

Lily: A little bit, yea. Again the book is about sharks. [laughs] Um it’s about what would happen to the ocean if sharks disappear. Basically, it’s like the tropic cascade and how apex predators hold environments together and how those environments can effect the whole world. So if that environment crumbles what’s going to happen to the environment next to it and bla bla bla. Oceans are like 70 plus percent of our world so if an ocean suffers, or the ocean suffers, like our whole world will suffer so it’s kind of about like, how sharks are like, are uh, I forget a word, how sharks are the anchor of the world a little bit.

Marissa: Mhm

Lily: Yea

Marissa: I can imagine, I mean like, just the imagery from Finconceivable, it’s so beautiful, its just like perfect for a childrens book. I mean did they contact you because of that?

Lily: Um no, I actually started working, so that, like 2013, like August, September was really when everything got kickstarted, and I um, just started working on Finconceivable because it was my senior year and then in August, after my infographics was shared on, I don’t know if I can say this on your podcast, I Fucking Love Science, IFLS. ok!


Marissa: Everyone swears.

Lily: After IFLS shared my infographics a editor from MacMillan, um, from the imprint Roaring Brook from Macmillan, she was looking on I Fucking Love Science and she sends me this email. I actually was in Montana and I was pretty unhooked from the internet and I decided after like two days of being there to like check my um, computer. So I open my computer and was like why do I have all of these likes on all of this stuff and all of these people commenting? I realized that I fucking love science had shared it and I checked my email and I had an email from the editor at MacMillan and she was like, ‘hey! can we talk about writing a book?’ I actually thought it was a joke. because like that is so random, this like a dream come true! this is not real so I was like, Ok sure! so I emailed her back and I was like sure! I’d love to, I’m in Montana, can we talk next week?

But I was like, there is no way that this person was real. This is not a real editor, this is like, some sort of scam but no, it was really an editor and she really wanted me to write a book. So I have spent since August 2013, because it takes a really long time to get a children’s book just right. I have been working on this children’s book. So it’s been a long time and I was working on it while I was working on Finconceivable. And I worked on it while I was in LA and now I’m back in the Bay area so I it has been a long time coming but I have a great relationship with my editor and she is so wonderful and I’m so thankful for her finding me. She is incredible and I have had the best time working on this book.

Marissa: And she is just like sort of a mentor to you to in some way?

Lily: For sure, um, it’s really been quite awesome because when she reached out to me, I ended up reaching out and getting an agent. Um and I have made some amazing connections and have met these great women who have been endlessly supportive and taught me so much about illustration and this world that I knew I wanted to get into eventually but didn’t think I could get into for a long time. and I’ve ended up kind of transitioning my career all because I have learned so much about all these other worlds and this world of books that have been. It’s just been totally a dream come true. and like, this is what I want to do. It’s just like so cool.

Marissa: That is like the end game, illustration, you are going to create your own books.

Lily: Yea, I hope so. I want to create my own um, I mean I am kind of in a transition period right now. I like, planned, I planned my whole life basically from age 10 until recently that I was going to work in animation and do this whole thing and I’m still doing that. I’m still freelancing. I’m still getting that going but I’m so passionate about telling educational stories and I think that needs to be told and I realize, clearly I have the ability to do it an way that a lot of people don’t have the desire to um or the time or the passion for it. It’s like, it’s all there so I need to do it. like, I’ve got this ability so I’ve got to do it. So I want to be able to tell books and maybe short films and I’m not really sure where it all ends up. Comics, stories, anything that’s education and still really fun. it’s, yea, like I’m trying to sort out where all that ends and meets. and it’s just right now a jumble but it’s really fun.

Marissa: Mhm, yea they don’t contact people often to make books when you are a junior in college.

Lily: No, yea, no actually my agent said she’s never, she’s never heard, of that happening to anyone so..

Marissa: mhm

Lily: So as far as I know yea, that doesn’t really happen that often.

Marissa: Working on a book verse working on a film, verse web comics, do you have different approaches?

Lily: Umm, winging it?


Marissa: Yea

Lily: I feel like I have been a novice at everything I’ve done and I just learn from everyone around me and I um, I have this practice where I try to contact people as much as possible so I email people, I call people, I am very consistent with asking people for things and I think that you don’t get anything in life if you don’t. Unless you ask for it. You’re not going to get a raise unless you ask for it. You’re not going to get a job unless you ask for it, you just have to ask people for things. So I spend a lot of my time asking people for their time. Asking them what they do, how they do it, how they approach doing it. Honestly, like, how much money it takes to do things. That’s kind of a taboo thing but you are not going to learn how to fairly make money unless you ask people how they make money um so I ask people a lot of things. So I think that to make a film, I ask people a lot of things. For my book, I’ve read books and I’ve asked people. and to make comics I do the same thing so I think that my philosophy is to ask. because there are so many people in this world who have information and they are flattered when they ask for their information and if you’re polite about it and anyone will respond to that.

Marissa: Yea I think that is an amazing philosophy, people do have so much knowledge, they’re so happy when you ask them.

Lily: Yea, I’m nodding right now. For sure. Everyone, is, everyone wants to help everyone else I think. I mean there are people who don’t and they just don’t respond to your emails but for the most part people want to help other people so I think it is really cool to ask people. Also, just really good practice I think. Also, googling! Everything is on the internet, why aren’t we taking advantage of that [laughs] everything is out there! we might as well go watch all the Youtube videos that are already out there.

Marissa: Totally!

[cut to narration]

We’ll end this last segment with one last clip from Lily’s film Finconceivable because it’s just so adorable and it ends on such a hopeful note.

[cut to recording of young girl’s voice narrating Finconceivable with ukelele in the background]

But there is good news! we can all help save sharks and keep balance in our ocean! Encourage eco tourism. Ecotourism, could be a way to provide positive for shark hunters through licensed shark diving, scuba trips, and vacation spots around the world! Write to a government representative and tell them to ban shark finning. Make sure the fish you eat was caught in a shark-friendly way. long lines and troll caught fish often accidentally catch and kill sharks. Lastly, inform your friends and spread the word!

[cut to narration]

Finally, we are going to get into one of Lily’s latest projects. She co-created, an online comic with another fellow classmate of ours, Karen Schneemann called the Mean Magenta. The online comic is about periods and menstrual health. It’s meant to destigmatize periods and also be informational. It’s funny, it’s heartfelt, and relatable if you are one of the 4 billion people on this planet that gets them.

[continue with interview]

Lily: Yea

Marissa: You started the Mean Magenta with Karen Schneemann. Can you tell us about the Mean Magenta?

Lily: Yea, I haven’t really talked about it yet so I’m not really sure if I’m talking about it right or whatever. So Karen and I were talking about it for a while. I had this idea where I decided I wanted to make this webcomic slash online resource for people with periods and Karen was like ok! like let’s do it. and I was like really?! you want to do this with me? and she was like yea for sure, let’s do it. because I definitely think I couldn’t do it alone. And I am a hundred percent accurate on that because it is a lot of work and it is a lot of emotionally exhausting conversations. Karen has been my rock and she has been such a good partner in this. So um, we just decided to do it and we just bit the bullet and we’ve been working on it for while, and like talking a lot about it for a while brainstorming for a long time, writing for a long time, so finally it’s starting and we haven’t talked about it yet. I have yet to post about it on my own social media.

Yea we started the Mean Magenta, it’s a, right now it’s a web comic for people with periods but hopefully eventually it will be like a resource.

Marissa: Cool!

Lily: Yea, so it centers around four girls. Christine, Brit, Abbey, and Sasha. and they are four twenty-ish something women in San Francisco and they all have varying jobs and they all have varying menstrual issues or non issues and just like what it means to be a woman, so it’s kinda like, or not women, because it’s people with periods right, cuz not only women get periods. But it’s just kinda like how different menstruation is for every different person. It varies so much and like, people who do menstruate and we know how to talk about it and we’ve all talked about it with each other but it’s so taboo to bring up to you boss or to bring up to anyone really when it’s such a big part of people’s lives.

Marissa: You just, you spend so much time planning around it.

Lily: Oh yea! I know for me personally my life is centered around mine. It’s such a taboo thing but it’s so hard when your life revolves around this thing. That you almost can’t talk about it.

Marissa: And the times you don’t have it you’re just like sensing your body and you’re like, I think I’m going to get it in two days or whatever. You’re just like aware of this thing all the time

Lily: Sure! yea and you’re like ok I know how I’m feeling right now based on like, what day of the month it is. It’s like such phenomenon that, I mean like what 50% of the population has it and yet we completely don’t talk about it.

Marissa: yea!

Lily: Mhm

Marissa: I had this um, ok I have this thing where whenever I’m on my period, I think it’s a good idea to wear white [laughs] but I don’t know I’m getting it. I’m just like, oh those white pants that are hideous that I never should have bought, I think I want to wear those! [laughs] And I wear them and I get my period and I’m like oh my god! I do this every time. So like, last summer, I wore white shorts to work at Tippett and I was standing at my desk. I have a standing desk and I’m like something’s weird and I’m like I think I started my period.

Lily: Oh no!

Marissa: so I grab my um, gym bag, I go to the bathroom, and I totally had so I like rinse the shorts out and I change into my gym clothes and I’m just like ok I’ll just like, it was in the middle of the summer so it’s super hot. I’ll let them dry while I’m at lunch. So I sneak back to my desk and we have a ladder that goes to the roof. Like I’ll hang them outside [laughs] and my coworkers are super chill so I’m sure they don’t give a shit anyway. They’re like all men. Um, but I just like really quickly like look all directions and like climb up and I throw these shorts outside and then I climb the rest of way and I look and I’ve thrown these shorts into black roof sludge.

Lily: No!

Marissa: So it was just like one and done, these shorts I just like completely destroyed in one day and I had just bought them and I was like, ok this is just like not meant to be it was just like, they wanted to be destroyed.

Lily: Oh my god that’s one of the funniest stories I’ve ever heard.


Marissa: It was just like a work day, so the rest of the day I’m wearing my gym clothes and I don’t think anyone mentioned it to me but it was just like, that was the day.

Lily: Yea and women have so many stories like that. I mean how many women have stories like that and yet like, and we all share them with each other but it’s behind closed doors. Yea, it’s so funny. If you talk to any woman, like a woman has a story like that.

Marissa: Yea and it’s like, that is my rebellion, like, that happened to me today. I can’t cover it up. I’m in my gym clothes now.


Lily: Goodbye white shorts you were never meant to be

Marissa: Yea, never meant to be. oh yea! I really connected with Christine. She’s awesome. I was like, Programmer! and I also got mine in 9th grade and like, go LGBTQ and the whole thing.

Lily: oh yea that’s great ok! so we have not been talking about it too much yet, I have yet to hear people like too much connecting with certain characters. I do know that people connect with Brit so far, um but it’s so exciting, I’m so excited by that! I love that you like Christine.

Marissa: yea totally! and how did you guys come up with the characters?

Lily: Um Karen and I actually joke about that. They’re kinda split. I have two and she has two and they are kind of a combination of our personalities. But also like, if you think about it, you probably are all of their personalities like I look at all of them and I see all of them in me. So we just found certain things within ourselves and made a character for that.

It was a lot of back and forth and just trying to find things that worked. And we did like total writing things where you have like interviews with the characters and stuff like that so we did like exercises. We planned who they were. We wanted them to feel really genuine and unique and neither of us have written comics before.

I did a lot of practicing though like I was practicing with these daily comics I was doing for my own, they’re like about me because i figure, I know myself, or I hope I know myself um so I’m just going to try practicing doing comics. So for a long time I was just practicing doing comics and everyone on the internet very much got into them. A lot people were very bummed when I stopped doing it. So like, I kinda held, it got to a point where I started doing the comics for the Mean Magenta so I didn’t want to overlap all my comicking because it was a lot to do. But so, I was practicing a lot with myself and once I started, I was able to figure out how to talk about myself and then I started working with the characters more. so yea.

Marissa: That’s so cool, yea I remember, um, when you were in LA you were doing a lot.

Lily: yea that was exactly for the Mean Magenta


Marissa: yea! they’re so funny and they’re just personal and cool. I enjoyed them.

Lily: Thank you. Yea, they’re fun because the mean magenta characters are sort of based off of certain aspect of each of us. it’s easy to get into that headspace when I’m drawing them and when Karen and I are writing about them.

Marissa: I think it’s going to be awesome. It’s just like super fun and it’s such a great message and idea. And you know it’s like when you say those numbers too, it’s like of course I know that women are a little over 50%. But yea, 50% of us experiencing something that we can’t like yell to the world.

Lily: Right. Like I even remember like 4 years ago I just remember if someone would post something about their periods I would be like oh my god, I cannot believe they like posted that on the internet. Like woh. And now I’m like totally that person because I feel like liberated about it. But it’s like we shouldn’t be so ashamed about what our body is doing because our body is meant to be doing that thing. I mean granted some of us have bodies that might not be doing something quite right but like still our bodies are doing this incredible thing, getting us ready for like, this incredible thing later in life you know? Like everything has it’s purpose and it’s like so, I mean, I sound like such a hippie right now, but menstruation is so cool! Like, it’s not something to be ashamed of and yet we’re all still, I mean I’m still ashamed of it, we’re all still coming to terms with it because we’ve told to be ashamed about it.

I always think about that. I’m in a room, like you’re in an auditorium, you’re at a concert, you’re at a show, there are people in this room that are like bleeding right now. Like woh. [laughs] That’s cool.

Marissa: yea!

Lily: But also we can’t talk about it. It’s like shhh.

Marissa: Totally! I get so excited like yea, that Olympian, the Chinese Olympian, I can’t remember her name. and I think you posted it and I was like yea!

Lily: Yea, I mean that was so cool. I can’t even imagine what it would have felt like for her to have said that, too. I mean because I think about even, like even talking about it now, it takes, it takes something you have in you to talk about. I think you have to break through something. because we’re not allowed to talk about it. Right? We’re told we’re not allowed to. So just talking about it in any sort of way is really kind of exciting so people should embrace it. Like I can’t imagine how she felt after one of the biggest races of her life. to get up and say that to a news reporter. I mean geez.

Marissa: And to do that race while you’re cramping and just like.

Lily: No, at the level she is doing that, it’s like crazy.

Marissa: And you think like oh yea, they’re human too, they also get their periods.

Lily: Yea, which yea and honestly, I didn’t know because they’re competing at such a high level and I was like, I don’t know if they do. Right? Because a lot of athletes don’t. So that was so exciting. I was like wow! A window into their life.

Marissa: Yea!


Lily: Olympic swimmers. exactly like us! There’s no other difference.


[cut to narration]

That wraps up this weeks episode with the lovely, Lily Williams. You’re listening to the Undefined: A Profile of a Generation. I’m your host, Marissa Comstock. Visit us at sign up for our email list and like us on Facebook if you like listening to the episodes. There’s so many other cool things that Lily has worked on that I couldn’t fit into the show. She volunteers her time and art for different bunny rescue organizations in California and has hosted fundraising drawing events for people to come and do life-drawing of bunnies. The events are attended by lots of cool people and artists including known tattoo artists for example. She posts new art all the time and recently did an illustration series of the woman’s olympic swim team so definitely check out her Instagram and Facebook page. I can’t wait for her children’s book. It’s going to be so gorgeous!

Next week, I talked to Johnny5 of TurfInc. He’s an insanely talented dancer. He’s be featured on and works with Yak films Dance videos, which is the Premier YouTube channel for epic dancers around the world. He’s the founder of TurfInc an organization that teaches Turf dancing to underprivileged kids in the East Bay. It’s a dance style that originated in Oakland and is derived from Boogaloo. He’s a dancer and agent and entrepreneur. He’s spoken at you and councils on how to solve problems in inner cities and he grew up in and knows all about Oakland. He’s awesome. I think you’ll like them a lot. So listen next week! Bye listeners!

[Theme Music]



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