inkt|art issues / Memoir / Nicole Hollander / Political Cartoons

Memoir and Modernity: The Marvelous Madame Hollander

Nicole Hollander–pioneering cartoonist, native Chicagoan, political satirist, and the official muse of inkt|art–has begun a new project. This shouldn’t surprise us. Hollander’s always got a few irons in the fire. Whether she’s working on a graphic memoir or blogging about the election, Hollander’s brain doesn’t take a break and it holds no medium sacred. 

Sylvia, her hyper-observant comic strip and Hollander’s most recognized work, ran in national newspapers for 30 years. Hollander’s Sylvia ranges in tone from delightfully whimsical to scathingly political. [The following strip appeared in 1992 and lampoons mandatory waiting periods for abortions.]


Once she retired the Sylvia strip in 2011, Hollander established an online presence with Bad Girl Chats, a blog for fans which featured a new comic strip series. She says:

“After I stopped doing the Sylvia cartoon, I began looking for a new way to keep connection with Sylvia’s friends. I decided to create a blog. Having absolutely no technical abilities I looked around for someone to provide what I was lacking. After many false starts I found Deanna and she became my technical adviser and the person with responsibility for putting up the blog everyday! Wow. Finding something to write about everyday was overwhelming. In addition, we ran a Sylvia archival strip everyday. There were wonderful comments from friends of the blog and people contributed their information on what was going on in the wider world. The blog was called “Bad Girl Chats.” There was some initial confusion which led many to go to a porn site, and of course they were rather annoyed at me.”



In 2010, Hollander also became the subject of a documentary (currently in post-production). Now, at the youthsome age of 77, Madame Hollander moves to Facebook to publish her latest creation. Before we take a sneak peak at Hollander’s new work-in-progress, we thought we should include an update about her graphic memoir (this being the “graphic memoir” issue, after all). A regular contributor to our journal, Hollander has written about her graphic memoir process in her inkt|art column, Never Tell Your Mother this Dream. She specifies, now, that she considers her memoir format to be different… 

“My graphic memoir is more of an illustrated book–that is, the format is not a cartoon strip, but an illustrated narrative. Each chapter opens with an image and is composed of both writing and illustration. Since I am concentrating on a certain period in my childhood, I remember it quite a bit more clearly than events in my adulthood. I think I remember this part of my childhood because my neighbors were part of my everyday life and after all, my world was rather small. My family found our neighbors endlessly interesting. Of course rumors were rampant and repeated excitedly from one family to another. The Courtyard apartments were small and our quarters were close. Children slept in the dining room. Parents slept in the one bedroom. The apartments were tiny in the courtyard. People with more income lived in the front part of the building. When the Congress Expressway was built, it upset the delicate balance of tiny businesses and the people who bought from them. Little by little those business disappeared. Little by little people moved to the suburbs and the life of that neighborhood suffered.”

The following are two pages from the chapter Marlene and the Fire:

hollander-fire1hollander-fire2 While still at work on her memoir, Hollander’s newest Facebook project includes what looks to be a cat-hoarding character designed to comment on the banal as well as the pointedly topical. Hollanders says she wanted to create:

“a new character to comment on President Elect Trump and all that his reign entails. I wanted to do something that would connect with the folks who liked my blog, but something more immediate. This way I think of something and I can just put it up, taking into account my disability of never quite knowing I’m posting correctly. My new character has at least five names at present: Hermione, Dorcas, Elsbeth, Eunice and more to come.”

Hollander fans will not run out of viewing material anytime soon. After we’ve reread our collected volumes of Sylvia, we have three projects to look forward to: a graphic memoir of Hollander’s childhood, a documentary of the artist and her work with Sylvia, and finally, a new Facebook friend. 


4 thoughts on “Memoir and Modernity: The Marvelous Madame Hollander

  1. Pingback: Our Graphic Memoir Issue is HERE! Volume III, Issue I! | inkt|art

  2. Pingback: Letter from the Editor | inkt|art

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