Originally from Sonoma, the New York designer launches a graphic memory “Murder Book”
When Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell, from Sonoma, was 7, she would sit with her cousins ââat their bake sales and try to peddle – unsuccessfully – her cartoons of dogs and horses.
âI couldn’t believe that no one would buy my cartoons,â Campbell said with a laugh, recalling his first experience as a struggling artist.
The New York cartoonist, who was obsessed with Charles Schulz’s drawing of Snoopy as a child, will celebrate the release of her first graphic memoir, “Murder Book”, on Sunday with a signing session in the Roche tasting room. Winery in downtown Sonoma.
The unconventional memoir teases the dark humor aspects of murder, our fascination with true criminal television, while also empathizing with murder victims.
âIt’s walking a fine line, laughing at the murder, but it’s by no means laughing at the victims,â Campbell said. âIt’s making fun of the genre. â¦ Real crime is like horrible gossip. It’s the feeling you get when you can’t get away from a car accident. Want to see and learn more.
When asked why she was personally captivated by crime, the artist weaned herself off episodes of “Law & Order” and “Forensic Files” said, “This is what I tried to figure out. in the book. My mom and I are sitting around talking about murder 24/7, so there you go.
Detective, according to Campbell, is in his genes. Her mother, Laurie Campbell, is obsessed with crime stories, as are her grandmother, Courtney Vaughan, and great-grandmother, Annabel Sprague.
After reading studies by psychologists, Campbell concluded that there was something “inherently feminine” about this obsession with crime.
âWomen are potentially more empathetic than men,â she said. âWomen who watch the news think the victim could easily be them. A, they want to find the piece of the puzzle. The human brain loves puzzles. And B, they ask themselves, “What can I do to prevent this from happening to me?” “
Some scold that we consume too much crime because we are inundated with morbid details from the internet, news reports, podcasts, documentaries and police shows, Campbell said. But, she argued, “people have heard about crime stories since the dawn of time.”
But why the humorous approach?
âI wanted to write this book as a conversation,â Campbell said. âThis is comedy. We joke about something uncomfortable for comic relief.
The author knows her graphic memoirs won’t appeal to everyone, but she expects them to appeal to true crime junkies who don’t apologize and find books like “The Stranger Beside Me” , both horrific and fascinating. Written by the late Ann Rule, the book details Rule’s personal relationship with infamous serial killer Ted Bundy.
âMy mom has all of Ann’s rule books in the house,â Campbell said. âAnd ‘Law & Order’ was a pillar in our household. When I watch âLaw & Orderâ, I feel like I am at home. It is truly morbid, but there is an eerie comfort in crawling into bed and watching a horrible, true crime.
The Charles Schulz connection
When Campbell was a child, a sketch of Snoopy by Charles Schulz hung in the hallway of his home in Sonoma, a gift from Schulz to his mother. Campbell’s grandfather, the late Daniel Vaughan, was Schulz’s golf buddy.
âI wanted to draw Snoopy like him (Charles Schulz),â Campbell said. âMy mother took me to every art class she could find growing up. My mom put me in cartoon classes. I didn’t know I wanted to be a cartoonist, but if you look at it when I was 5, it was in the stars.
The precocious cartoonist jokes that her humor was sharpened by the tribe of her dead end.
âEveryone was terribly witty and weren’t afraid to make jokes,â Campbell said of his neighbors, a funny cross section of the people. They included a doctor, a firefighter, a NASA scientist, a restaurateur, a pilot and a rude nun who changed professions, finding the teaching more appropriate.
âEveryone was walking in each other’s doors,â Campbell said. “It was like I had five pairs of parents.”
The cul-de-sac and its characters became Campbell’s goal; she started to see humor everywhere.
âWhen you’re a kid, you think (humor is) normal. But realizing that other people didn’t have it, you realize how special it was, âshe said. âI realize now that I would like to be there half the time. I wish it could be kept in my mind forever.
The New York cartoonist
âLike a little cat, I searched the New Yorker’s office,â Campbell recalls of his first visit to history magazine which features in-depth journalism alongside social commentary cartoons.
âI was so nervous. I walked in and handed my drawings to Bob Mankoff, the cartoon editor. I was shaking in my boots. He said, ‘Don’t come back till you’ve done a thousand.’ “