Gabrielle Bell

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Gabrielle Bell
GabrielleBell SPX04.jpg
Bell photographed at the 2004 Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda, Maryland
BornGabrielle Bell
(1976-03-24) March 24, 1976 (age 43)
London, England
NationalityBritish, American
Notable works
Lucky, The Books of..., The Voyeurs, Everything is Flammable
AwardsIgnatz Award (2004, 2007)

Gabrielle Bell (born March 24, 1976 in London, England) is a British-American alternative cartoonist known for her surrealist, melancholy semi-autobiographical stories.

Early life[edit]

When Bell was two, her American mother divorced her British father[1] and took Gabrielle and her brother back to the United States. Ending up in a relatively isolated rural town in Mendocino County, Bell writes that she "grew up . . . spending a lot of time reading, walking in the woods, and making up stories."[1] As a teenager Bell attended a college program for low-income and at-risk students hosted by Humboldt State University, where she took classes in Shakespeare and composition. When Bell was 17 she traveled in Europe, including England, where she met her British relatives. Later moving to San Francisco, Bell took art classes at the City College of San Francisco, worked in a series of dead-end retail jobs, and began self-publishing her comics.[1] She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.


Books of...[edit]

From about 1998 to 2002, Bell annually self-published a 32-page minicomic, each of whose titles began with "Book of...", including Book of Insomnia, Book of Sleep, Book of Black, Book of Lies, and Book of Ordinary Things. Many of the stories from those comics were collected in When I'm Old and Other Stories, published by Alternative Comics in 2003.


In 2003, Bell began the self-published semi-autobiographical Lucky series, of which the third won a 2003 Ignatz Award for Most Outstanding Minicomic. Lucky details Bell's day-to-day existence in a frank and good-humored manner, as she navigates a world of dilapidated rental apartments, low-paying jobs, yoga classes, roommate misadventures, and artistic frustration. These snippets of daily life in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York, are comforting in their familiarity; by settling into the rhythm of the artist's daily life, the reader experiences the heft of small victories and simple pleasures. Lucky tells of the anguish of nude modeling; sex-obsessed, adolescent art students; and Bell's own foibles.

Lucky was collected by Drawn and Quarterly in fall 2006, and launched as a new series (vol. 2), also by Drawn and Quarterly, in 2007.

Cecil and Jordan in New York[edit]

Cecil and Jordan in New York (Drawn & Quarterly) is a collection of Bell's short comics work that has been published in various anthologies, including Kramers Ergot (Buenaventura Press), Mome (Fantagraphics), and Drawn and Quarterly Showcase Book Four.

The Voyeurs[edit]

The Voyeurs (Uncivilized Books, 2012) is a real-time memoir of a turbulent five years in the life of renowned cartoonist, diarist and filmmaker Gabrielle Bell. It collects episodes from her award-winning series, Lucky, in which she travels to Tokyo, Paris, and the South of France and all over the United States, but remains anchored by her beloved Brooklyn, where sidekick Tony provides ongoing insight, offbeat humor and enduring friendship.

Michel Gondry[edit]

Bell collaborated with director Michel Gondry on a film adaptation of the title story of Cecil and Jordan in New York, in which a young woman turns herself into a chair so as not to be too much of a bother to those around her. The film, titled Interior Design, was co-written by Bell and Gondry and directed by Gondry as part of the film Tôkyô!.[2]

Bell and Gondry also collaborated on Kuruma Tohrimasu, a collection of drawings and photographs made during the production of Interior Design. Conceived of as a thank-you gift for the film's cast and crew, Kuruma Tohrimasu is published as part of Drawn and Quarterly’s Petits Livres series.


Bell was a regular contributor to Fantagraphics' quarterly anthology Mome. She has also contributed to publications such as The New Yorker, Kramers Ergot (Buenaventura Press), Stereoscomic (Stereoscomic), Bogus Dead (Alternative), Orchid (Sparkplug Comics), The Comics Journal Special Edition 2005 (Fantagraphics), Scheherazade (Soft Skull Press), Linus, and Shout! magazine.[3] Her work has been included three times in the annual Best American Comics anthology series.[4]

Everything is Flammable[edit]

Bell's first full-length graphic memoir, Everything is Flammable, was released in April 2017 with publisher Uncivilized Books.[5] Everything is Flammable was chosen as one of the best graphic novels of 2017 by Entertainment Weekly, a finalist for the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize as Best Graphic Novel/Comic, and nominated for a Broken Frontier Award for Best Graphic Non-Fiction.[6][7][8] The book also received praises from acclaimed writers such as Joyce Carol Oates[9] and Tao Lin.[10]

Bell has been a writer/artist in residence at several institutions, including Bryn Mawr and Baruch College.[11]

Bibliography (selected)[edit]

  • When I'm Old and Other Stories (Alternative Comics, 2003) ISBN 978-1-891867-43-9
  • Lucky (Drawn and Quarterly, 2006) ISBN 978-1-897299-01-2
  • Lucky vol. 2. (Drawn and Quarterly, 2007, ongoing)
  • Cecil and Jordan in New York: Stories by Gabrielle Bell (Drawn and Quarterly, 2008) ISBN 978-1-897299-57-9
  • Kuruma Tohrimasu (Drawn and Quarterly, 2008) ISBN 978-1-897299-59-3
  • The Voyeurs (Uncivilized Books, 2012) ISBN 978-0-984681-40-2
  • Truth is Fragmentary: Travelogues & Diaries (Uncivilized Books, 2014) ISBN 978-0-988901-45-2
  • Everything is Flammable (Uncivilized Books, April 2017) ISBN 978-1941250181


  1. ^ a b c Bell bio at Drawn and Quarterly website. Retrieved Sept. 4, 2008.
  2. ^ "Michel Gondry Pinch Hits for Tokyo!". Interview Magazine. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  3. ^ "Gabrielle Bell | The New Yorker". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  4. ^ Neil Gaiman, ed., The Best American Comics 2010 (Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010), 322
  5. ^ Bell, Gabrielle (2017-04-18). Everything is Flammable. S.l.: Uncivilized Books. ISBN 9781941250181.
  6. ^ "The 8 best graphic novels of 2017". Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  7. ^ Schaub, Michael. "L.A. Times Book Prize finalists include Joyce Carol Oates and Ta-Nehisi Coates; John Rechy receives lifetime achievement award". Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  8. ^ "Introducing the Broken Frontier Awards 2017 - Celebrating Another Year of Indie, Alt and Small Press Coverage at BF! – Broken Frontier". Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  9. ^ "Joyce Carol Oates on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  10. ^ "Tao Lin on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-11-25.

External links[edit]