Everybody Wants to Love You

Bold, colourful, and hitting close to the bone of inner-city life, online comic  Everybody Wants to Love You (@everybody_wants_to_love_you) comes to you direct from the brain of Melbourne based writer Natalie Rose. If you have read it, you’ll be familiar with its exploration of how queerness intersects with gender, class, heritage, relationships and self-expression – and its humour, which offers both a cringe-inducing familiarity and heartfelt warmth.
That Bitch spoke to Natalie about depicting the queer experience through art, which stories are off-limits and deconstructed sandwiches…
Vocal-Fry-Friday-Fry-Up

Original image taken from Give me a Home Among the Gum Trees” by Natalie Rose @everybody_wants_to_love_you

I love how Everybody Wants To Love You looks at queer themes and how they intersect with other aspects of personal experience. Why is it important to you to show this and what’s attractive about the comic format for you as the best way to do that?
Firstly, thank you! I try to make sure the comic is accessible and that the queer themes are presented as incidental alongside evergreen storylines. However, the experience of living in a queer body, even when incidental to the scenario, still inherently and heavily informs and subverts the story. It’s that tension that I am trying to explore; to try and depict sameness in order to highlight otherness. And for me, it all comes down to depicting different lifestyles and experiences from different perspectives. It took me a long time to recognise my own experiences in books, television and film. Perhaps if I had I could have saved myself a lot of time, confusion and heartache. Growing up, queer themes were often reserved for either highly dramatic bury-your-gays narratives or shallow gimmicky punchlines and neither seemed encouraging. So it’s important to me to present these themes in a lighthearted, middlebrow and relatable manner, while still exploring the challenges. Also, queerness, by definition, is so diverse, so what I hope becomes recognisable is the sense of otherness. I’m sure everyone can recognise that feeling, queer identifying or not. And it’s all the hyper-colour, and of course, the title that imply a cheery, determined hopefulness that ‘everything is ok‘ only to find, it’s not quite.
Oh, and why comics? Comics and graphic novels have a rich history of exploring queerness and camp culture, whether dog-whistling or directly, due to the inexpensive and DIY nature of publishing pulp fiction. I hope that the counter-culture past informs the comic, even within a mainstream platform, like Instagram. Also, I like playing around with the formulaic good vs evil binary found in superhero comics by exploring a more nuanced depiction of morality.
You have such an incredible way of conveying both the daily minutiae of life and BIG FEELINGS that occur in personal relationships too (reader, please view Not a Pie Household for said feelings explosion) Are you always just observing? How do you process these small interactions to turn them into these little gems of stories and is the creation process lengthy for you?
I’ve come to realise it’s a combination of things that bring all the pieces together. I’ve always kept a notebook to write down funny or interesting scenarios, lived or imagined. And I’ve never grown up enough to stop daydreaming. So I kind of muse on whatever ideas or situations that take my interest at the time and play around with them in my mind, a lot. I also read and watch a lot. And it’s as if this combination of things somehow overlaps and then – and this always takes me by surprise –  some last symbol or idea unifies all the seemingly unrelated pieces perfectly, like they always belonged together.
This process can be lengthy, because I can’t force that moment when everything entwines. I can see how my writing tried to shoe-horn ideas together to force some neatly tied up narrative when I was younger. I think I’m able to be patient now. I don’t need to find meaning out of thoughts and feelings and I’m comfortable in letting them surface gently. I always wait for that unmistakable feeling that a story is done. It can’t be rushed. If I’m still crying about it, it means I’m still processing it and so the story’s not finished. It’s bittersweet sometimes, because it means saying goodbye to a little world that’s been only mine for so long. But, for me, articulating it through storytelling is the only way to move forward. Otherwise…
Theme - Lovers without an aircon

Original artwork “Lovers without an Aircon” by Natalie Rose @everybody_wants_to_love_you

Has there ever been a situation you’ve wanted to put into Everybody Wants To Love You that you felt would compromise anyone’s privacy or a friendship or is everything fair game?
I struggle a lot with what stories of mine are wholly mine to tell. I think there are a few different situations here. More often, if I’m using a friend’s experience or joke I just ask for their permission first and get them to look over the comic before I post it. My fire sign friends just lift a shoulder of indifference with an all-press-is-good-press attitude, but others want to be more involved, which is great too. Then there are stories I want to write about that explore interpersonal relationships. I have to say, there’s a lot I won’t write about. I draw a line at critiquing other people’s behaviour, through my writing, mainly because I don’t think I can come to the kind of deep understanding I need. I’m less interested in didactic stories that judge or pick sides anyway. For me, it’s about presenting a situation truthfully. And so, I leave a lot of ambiguity around other character’s intentions and even actions because, well do we ever know why other people do things? I stick to a first person point of view and explore things from that perspective, because that’s how we experience the world anyway. Also, the whole thing gets blended up through the process of turning it into a comic. The subtext always comes from true emotion, but it’s less recount, and more constructed fiction than you’d think. Not only do I play around with multiple scenarios and make them into one, I also need to make it work within 10 frames and align it to the hyper-playful tone of the account. It moves so far away from the experience that it came from.
Everybody Wants to Love You would be amazing as an animated video series, would that ever be a possibility?
It’s funny because the comic only began because an animated video series I was working on fell apart. It was years and years of work, all gone, and so upon accepting that, I decided to do something small and immediate, an online comic. Also, I work in content production for my day job and so I know how much is involved in video production and I like not having to deal with that outside of work hours. The ratio of being creative to producing/ distributing the content is quite even with the comic. There are only a few hours between the story being written and the story being shared, which allows it to be reactive. I’m just really excited about working in that space at the moment.
Any other cool projects you’re working on right now?
I am working on a graphic novel. It’s fun and overwhelming. There’s also a short film I wrote and co-directed that’s in its final stages of post.
What is the most Brunswick thing that’s ever happened to you in Brunswick?
I remember seeing a cafe with a sign advertising a deconstructed sandwich. Bless. How is that not what we’d more commonly call a salad?
If you had to live out the life of Clare Danes’ character in Little Women or Clare Danes’ actual life, which would you choose?
Ha! Clare Danes’ actual life. Only because despite having to act in Homeland, I could spend my weekends inviting Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, Kirsten Dunst and Gillian Armstrong for Little Women reunion parties. We could leave things in Christian Bale’s letterbox to mess with him, like in the film.
 You can follow @everybody_wants_to_love_you on Instagram.

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