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By Cornelius A. Fortune
4 p.m. June 9
Green Brain Comics
13210 Michigan Ave., Dearborn
Bring up a subject like George W. Bush, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a reaction from political cartoonist Mikhaela Reid.
The machinations of the Bush administration lead to the creation of her comic strip, “The Boiling Point,” which is published weekly in Metro Times, Bay Windows, The Rochester Insider and in several other print and online publications.
“I have to say thank you George W. Bush for rescuing me from the life of a non-cartoonist,” says Reid. “I got motivated, and I haven’t put my pen down since.”
Her first book, “Attack of the 50-Foot Mikhaela,” a collection of six years worth of comic strips, will be released a couple of days after her first book-tour stop at 4 p.m. June 9 at Green Brain Comics.
That weekend, Reid, with partner and finance Masheka Woods, will be painting a mural at the Detroit Music Hall for the Performing Arts (for the star dressing room) of famous musicians who played at the Music Hall. This will be her first time in Michigan.
“The Boiling Point” is just one of the strips featured in the book. It’s a retrospective volume, tracing the development of a political cartoonist. “It’s not just cartoons in my book,” she explains. “It provides a history of the last six years and my reaction to it. The sad part is a lot of these cartoons are just as relevant as when I drew it. The reason I’m an angry 50-foot Mikhaela is because of the outrage that happens on a daily basis.”
The 27-year-old bisexual cartoonist was named in 2006 as one of Girls in Government’s “Real Hot 100.” Her controversial cartoon “Every Sperm is Sacred!” — about the quest of the “sperm rights movement” to legislate “a happy uterine home for every sperm” — was included in the book “Killed Cartoons: Casualties of the War on Free Expression.”
A Harvard graduate, Reid began “Boiling Point” during her Harvard years, in The Harvard Crimson. The strip was later picked up by The Boston Phoenix in the fall of 2002. Until 2006, Reid worked as an information graphics designer for The Wall Street Journal, and is a founding member of Cartoonists with Attitude, a group of groundbreaking social commentary and political cartoonists.
Her cartoons have appeared in The Advocate, The Phoenix (Boston), Los Angeles Times, The Guardian (UK), Ms., Bitch and The Villager. Building an audience of people who expect her work to be overtly political, Reid wants to eventually try her hand at other things. “It’s something I love doing, but I really have this fantasy of creating a comic strip that’s less political,” says Reid, “where I’ll play with stories and characters. I’d love to do some more autobio stuff, but these thing are so important to me. Hopefully (this book) will stir things up. ”
When she first began doing cartoons there wasn’t a lot of gay news in the mainstream media. Now, that’s changed. And she’s having a harder time trying to get everything into the space of a week.
“It’s definitely this weird balancing act. I try to mix it up,” she says. “For me, cartooning is not just about getting my anger out, it’s also about trying to get some views out there that people are feeling. I do cartoons that are funny. But I also do cartoons that are sad, or cartoons that are angry. The book is taking it to the next level.”
Though she would love to do some flash animation or other projects, she’s content to keep getting her message out to the masses through what comic book writer Harvey Pekar called, “words and pictures.”
“There’s so many outrageous things happening. I would like to relax. I’d love to draw some cartoons about dating,” says Reid, “but I can’t. I have to do this. I’m looking forward to the day when we have a less evil president. That hasn’t happened yet.”