Phoebe Gloeckner

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Phoebe Gloeckner
Phoebe Gloeckner in Gijon, Spain, 2009
Phoebe Gloeckner in Gijon, Spain, 2009
Born Phoebe Louise Adams Gloeckner
(1960-12-22) December 22, 1960 (age 54)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania US
Nationality American
Occupation Artist
Graphic novelist
Medical illustrator
Years active 1988-present
Known for A Child's Life and Other Stories
Notable work The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures
Children 2

Phoebe Louise Adams Gloeckner (born December 22, 1960), is an American cartoonist, illustrator, painter, and novelist.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Gloeckner was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her mother was a librarian[1] and her father, David Gloeckner,[2] was a commercial illustrator. Her father's family was Quaker and she attended Quaker schools when she was young.[3] She has a younger sister.[3]

Gloeckner's mother divorced when Gloeckner was 4 years old. In 1972, when she was 11 or 12 years old, her mother remarried and the family moved to San Francisco.[4] She attended several Bay Area schools, including The Hamlin School for Girls, Castilleja (in Palo Alto), Urban High School, Lick-Wilmerding High School, and The Independent Learning School.[citation needed] She went to boarding school at one point, but returned to San Francisco to live with her mother, her mother's boyfriend, and her sister, when she was 14.[1]

Gloeckner began cartooning at the age of 12. Because her mother was dating Bob Armstrong, a cartoonist in Robert Crumb's band Cheap Suit Serenaders, she met many San Francisco underground comics figures who had a profound influence upon her, including Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky, Bill Griffith, Terry Zwigoff, and Diane Noomin.[3] An early influence was the series, "Twisted Sisters," by Diane Noomin and Aline Kominsky.[4]

Gloeckner attended San Francisco State University from 1980 to 1985, where she was a pre-med student and studied French and art. She spent the 1983-1984 academic year in Université d’Aix-Marseille studying art, French, and biology and from 1984 to 1985 spent about six months studying Czech and literature at Charles University in Prague. She has an M.A. in Biomedical Communications from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, which she received in 1988. The degree was in medical illustration. Her 1987 dissertation was on the "Semiotic Analysis of Medical Illustration,"[5] which she describes as the seeing the medical images in a narrative structure.[3]

Gloeckner said that she became interested in medical illustration through her maternal grandfather, who collected and sold used books, and her paternal grandmother, Dr. Louise Gloeckner, who was a doctor in Philadelphia and was the first woman to be elected vice president of the American Medical Association.[2][6]


Gloeckner has worked prolifically as a medical illustrator since 1988, and her training is evident in her paintings and comics art, which are highly detailed and often prominently feature the human body. Her first prominent work in fiction publishing, a series of illustrations for the RE/Search edition of J. G. Ballard's novel The Atrocity Exhibition, used clinical images of internal anatomy, sex, and physical trauma in ambiguous and evocative combinations.

Her comics work, in the form of short stories published in a variety of underground anthologies including Wimmen's Comix, Weirdo, Young Lust, and Twisted Sisters, was sporadic and rarely seen until the 1998 release of the collection A Child's Life and Other Stories. This was followed by her 2002 novel The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures, which revisited the troubled life of the young character (usually referred to as "Minnie Goetze") previously featured in some of her comics, this time in an unusual combination of prose, illustration, and short comics scenes.

Her novel and many of her short stories are semi-autobiographical, a frequent cause of comment due to their depiction of sex, drug use, and childhood traumas; however, Gloeckner has stated that she regards them as fiction. Sexual content led to A Child's Life and Other Stories being banned from the public library in Stockton, California, after it was checked out by an 11-year-old reader. The mayor of Stockton called the book "a how-to book for pedophiles."[7] The graphic novel was also classified as pornography and refused entry by customs officials in both France and England.[4]

Less controversial, and actually intended for children, is the book Weird Things You Can Grow, published by Random House, and books in the series beginning with Tales too Funny to be True published by HarperCollins, for which she did the illustrations.

A film version of The Diary of a Teenage Girl, inspired by Gloeckner's "The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures," premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. The film was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics at the festival.[8] Adapted and directed by Marielle Heller and is based on an earlier iteration in the form of a theater piece,[9] the film stars Alexander Skarsgard as Monroe, Kristen Wiig as Charlotte, and Bel Powley as the main character, Minnie Goetze. Heller developed the script at the Sundance Institute's Sundance Feature Film Program Lab.[8]

Gloeckner briefly taught courses at Suffolk Community College and SUNY Stony Brook, where her then husband was a professor of chemistry.[3]

Gloeckner is an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design, a position she has held since 2010.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Gloeckner has been married three times. When she was 19, Gloeckner married a punk rock musician from Czechoslovakia.[3]

In 1986, Gloeckner married Czech artist Jakub Kalousek.[11] They later divorced. She has two daughters, Audrey "Fina" Gloeckner-Kalousek and Persephone Gloeckner-Kalousek.[12]


Works and publications[edit]



Children's books[edit]

Illustration work[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Orenstein, Peggy (5 August 2001). "Phoebe Gloeckner Is Creating Stories About the Dark Side of Growing Up Female". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Bengal, Rebecca (11 July 2006). "Interviews: On Cartooning - Phoebe Gloeckner". POV (TV series), PBS. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Groth, Gary (6 February 2011). "The Phoebe Gloeckner Interview". The Comics Journal. Retrieved 11 August 2015. #261, published July 2004 
  4. ^ a b c Joiner, Whitney (15 March 2003). "Not your mother’s comic book". Slate. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  5. ^ Gloeckner, Phoebe L A (1987). "Semiotic Analysis of Medical Illustration". University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. OCLC 21957259. Thesis/dissertation 
  6. ^ Smith, Sue (15 September 1969). "A Woman Doctor Takes a Giant Step in the A.M.A.". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  7. ^ Kinsella, Bridget (19 November 2004). "Libraries Developing Guidelines For Graphic Novels". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Fleming Jr, Mike (27 January 2015). "Sony Pictures Classics Confirms ‘Diary Of A Teenage Girl’ Deal – Sundance". Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  9. ^ Webster, Andy (31 March 2010). "Theater Review: The Diary of a Teenage Girl - Me and My Hormones, Raging in the 1970s". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  10. ^ "Phoebe Gloeckner: Associate Professor, School of Art & Design". University of Michigan - Stamps School of Art & Design. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  11. ^ "Phoebe L Gloeckner mentioned in the record of Jakub Kalousek and Phoebe L Gloeckner". FamilySearch. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  12. ^ Joiner, Whitney (8 August 2015). "The Rumpus Interview with Phoebe Gloeckner". The Rumpus. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  13. ^ "Inkpot Awards". Comic-Con International. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  14. ^ "Phoebe Gloeckner, Fellow: Awarded 2008, Field of Study: Fine Arts". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
  15. ^ Kirshner, Mia; MacKinnon, J. B.; Shoebridge, Paul; Simons, Michael (2008). I Live Here (1st ed.). New York: Pantheon Books. ISBN 978-0-375-42478-6. OCLC 756989415. 
  16. ^ "2015-16 Fellows: Phoebe Gloeckner". University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]