Bell photographed at the 2004 Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda, Maryland
March 24, 1976
|Lucky, The Books of...|
|Awards||Ignatz Award, 2004|
When Bell was two, her American mother divorced her British father 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." 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. In 2003, she moved to New York to live with her then boyfriend.
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
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.
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!.
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 Kramers Ergot (Buenaventura Press), Stereoscomic (Stereoscomic), Bogus Dead (Alternative), Orchid (Sparkplug Comics), The Comics Journal Special Edition 2005 (Fantagraphics), Scheherazade (Soft Skull Press), and Shout! magazine. Her work has been included three times in the annual Best American Comics anthology series.
- 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
- Bell bio at Drawn and Quarterly website. Retrieved Sept. 4, 2008.
- Neil Gaiman, ed., The Best American Comics 2010 (Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010), 322
- Bell's adaptation of Emily Dickinson's "It was not death, for I stood up." "The Poem as Comic Strip #2," Poetry Foundation (PDF).
- Berlatsky, Noah. "The Real Gabrielle Bell," The Hooded Utilitarian (Nov. 5, 2007).
- Clough, Rob. "Deadpan: Gabrielle Bell's Lucky (Dec. 13, 2006).
- Cronin, Brian. "A Month of Art Stars — Gabrielle Bell," Comic Book Resources (Sept. 25, 2008).
- Meginnis, Mike. "'The Hole,' and Other True Fictions," The Webcomics Examiner.
- Interview from Mome vol. 2 (July 17, 2005).
- January 2007 Bookslut interview (Jan. 2007).
- SMITH Magazine interview (Jan. 8, 2007).
- Paul Gravett interview (Jan. 19, 2007).
- Daily Cross Hatch interview, part I (July 29, 2008).
- Daily Cross Hatch interview, part II (Aug. 4, 2008).
- Daily Cross Hatch interview, part III (Aug. 12, 2008).
- Daily Cross Hatch interview, part IV (Aug. 19, 2008).