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Phoebe Gloeckner's Comics
posted September 24, 2003
 

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Phoebe Gloeckner makes comics that provoke. She confronts complex human appetites and the messy emotional and physical fall-out that can follow their pursuit. Gloeckner's best work sears into the brain. She is a portrait maker unafraid to reveal the inner workings and ugliness of the physical body, and a writer willing to turn a unyielding eye on her own past. Her comics bring about feelings so intense they can overwhelm rational consideration of the skill involved in their making. Despite the overwhelming critical success of two major volumes, A Child's Life and Other Stories (1998) and The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2002), Gloeckner remains criminally under appreciated for the breadth of her talent. Readers sent reeling by the power of Gloeckner's comics overlook the reserve and assured sense of pacing with which she draws them in. Audiences attuned to the tragic elements in her stories miss how much of what she does involves humor. Reviewers quick to point out how Gloeckner exposes people at their worst rarely stop to consider how every character is treated with a sympathy atypical to memoir writing in any form. Best known for depicting raw physicality and intense emotion, Phoebe Gloeckner is also a clever documentarian, an artist able to build entire worlds out of meticulous details. She deserves recognition as one of the finest American cartoonists of hers or any other generation.

As a child, Gloeckner drew out of a desire for mastery, a feeling she describes as being roughly equivalent to a boy's need for sublimated empowerment fantasies. She later wrote in diaries as a repository for the tidal wave of events to which she was subjected and the emotions with which she responded. At a very young age, Gloeckner tried to create a more complete world out of her own limited experiences. The spark for combining the two creative impulses came from her discovery of underground comics. Gloeckner made little distinction between the appeal of the undergrounds' best art and the liberation inherent in those comics' chosen subject matter. She was attracted to accomplished art and stories in roughly the same arena of art in which she works today.

Her initial relationship to comics went deeper to include the people making them. Because of her mother's peripheral involvement in underground comics circles, Gloeckner was able to connect several of her favorite comics directly to their cartoonists. This gave her role models that embodied accomplishment and adulthood. The underground cartoonists Gloeckner idolized moved forward with their art in ways her own slowly unraveling artist father did not. They became figures of hope, admiration and awe. A period when she met Crumb (of which he speaks above) and wrote letters to Aline Kominsky allowed Gloeckner to project her desires for a more complete world of experience onto the act of making comics. Gloeckner's favorite cartoonists were people who took on the world armed with everything she felt she had yet to learn. Comics that dealt with personal issues, of high artistic value, would provide an important beacon by which the cartoonist eventually extricated herself from the complications of her young life.

Those complications proved vast and difficult, and were reflected in her comics from the beginning. In 1976, a teenaged Gloeckner created "It's Mary the Minor" -- not her first comic, but the first one of a kind with the comics she would create as an adult. Mary describes the portion of her life that rotates around her mother's boyfriend Richard. Theirs is a relationship that has recently become sexual and Richard is in many ways the center of her existence. Mary breathlessly reports on him to a friend. She struggles to get along with Richard when they meet. She cringes as he says cruel things. They argue on the phone. Mary makes her way to Polk Street and its flirtatious denizens as an escape. She finds herself back with Richard after an indeterminate length of time (the evocative caption: "the next day… or week… or month…"). She then leaves him, and, still musing over her situation, returns home and her own bed.

"It's Mary the Minor" is a triumph of orientation. Its grasp of the medium's possibilities to communicate human emotion far outstrips the cartoonist's precocious writing and art. Gloeckner claims to distrust art as therapy, and it's relatively easy to dismiss coping as a goal of this early work. Rather than slipping into confession of, or amelioration from, or even justification for various experiences, Gloeckner lays them out one by one in straightforward fashion. The teenaged Gloeckner is self-aware; she provides a wiser version of herself as narrator that comments, sometimes critically, about her actions. Gloeckner builds an emotional world for her character based on an accumulation of individual ruminations, and a physical setting based on how the protagonist carries herself in various environments. Gloeckner's comics have always reflected a rock-solid foundational respect for artistic process. "It's Mary the Minor" showcases an artist's desire to make a good story, not the needs of a lonely and sometimes confused teenage girl to understand what is happening around her.

Emerging from her teens Gloeckner published professionally on an intermittent basis through the 1980s, in short stories that appeared in vestiges of the once-proud underground comics network. She had been drawing all along, and therefore brought to her young-adult work vast improvement in skill and an ambitious sense of how to deal with comics formally. Reading Gloeckner's work from the 1980s is like watching a bird circle its prey, growing stronger and more assured as it zeroes in on its target. Gloeckner refined her visual vocabulary and sorted through what themes interested her most. "Private Display," from 1982, remains close enough in graphic style to be recognizable as coming from an older version of the artist behind "It's Mary the Minor." The shading and pattern work has been cleaned up and the figures move with greater energy. Gloeckner utilizes a more traditional series of panels to unpack an anecdotal narrative of a brief, sexual experience. Gloeckner makes ambitious use of perspective as the story continues into its climax. Fewer faces are shown, and the frames become filled with body parts depicted at strange angles. The reader leaves with a combination of their visceral response to the sexual encounter filtered through their lingering memory of the characters as more fully realized people when the story began. These are the first signs of a delicate ambiguity concerning memory and the depiction of key events that presents itself in much of Gloeckner's later work.

Although her grandparents hoped she would pursue medicine, Gloeckner was as fond of the arts as she was the sciences and found her way instead into medical illustration. As a result of the demands of craft that came with that area of study, she never settled into artistic short cuts or developed a cartoon-like iconography with which to make comics. The majority of her comics art has been equally sound as illustration, and a great deal of it is fully rendered. Gloeckner's progress as a cartoonist is better tracked by how she made use of these artistic chops rather than a slow accumulation of craft skills that most artists experience. Her stories display several short bursts of innovation in form. In 1984, Gloeckner produced a suite of sexually charged narratives. Two of them later refurbished for publication in the 1990s, "The Bob Skoda Story" and "Tommy and Darryl," are illustrated in a gray wash style with loose figure drawing and a variable line. Combined with casual, by-hand lettering, the wash makes the comics appear as if they were put to paper in a furious burst of creativity. They are secret stories, told furtively and with tongue in cheek. Gloeckner's art in those stories has become equivalent to authorial voice, communicating the cartoonist's attitude towards what occurs through its breathless pacing, its shades of gray, and its tremulous line.

Gloeckner often uses her art to color the reader's perceptions. "Cat Litter Caper" (1984, reworked in 1998) and "Vocational Training" (1984) are drawn in the style of "Private Display." They are more powerfully and traditionally illustrated; the faces reveal greater ranges of emotion and the backgrounds the characters inhabited seem much more settled, more concrete. "Cat Litter Caper" deals with domestic relationships through overt masking. Gloeckner portrays the children as adults, and the adults as children, an overtly formal ploy she would later abandon for more sophisticated depictions of age and size. "Vocational Training" features a narrator that looks a bit like Gloeckner, telling the story of a friend's first sexual encounter and her goal of picking up experience for a future career as a "whore." Here the narrator's comments are presented in cursive, like a diary entry, and stand in some opposition to the cold realities depicted. By the latter part of the decade, Gloeckner had managed to harness her facility with drawing into effective comics. She could now present immediate, evocative stories suffused with an emotional subtext. They are as revealing of the artist's attitudes towards the material as anything the content itself might reveal.

Gloeckner's next group of short stories, published in the late 1980s and early 1990s, showcased the cartoonist's playfulness as an artist. Gloeckner's facility had become even more apparent on the page. She started to outstrip her contemporaries in terms of the fundamental loveliness of her drawings. Her formal play now began to coalesce into a versatile narrative approach. The comics "Quaker School Q-Ties" (1989) and "An Evening in Prague" (1990) took Gloeckner's views on sexuality and the arbitrary cruelty of relationships and moved them into different worlds, one daftly fantastic yet familiar to any child and one that remains grounded in reality yet decidedly foreign. The effectiveness of these stories gilded her observations so that they have the sheen of the universally truthful and wise. "The Sad Tale of the Visible Woman and Her Invisible Man" (1990) is noteworthy for its use of medical illustration cutaways and Gloeckner's most grotesque depiction of oversized body parts in a comics narrative. Showing a person's insides, or simply portraying them nude, became one of Gloeckner's tools for documenting a mundane event from a radically different perspective. By showing the breakdown of muscle and tissue at work, Gloeckner strips actions and people of their unearned mystery. Not all of Gloeckner's refinements were found in the art. In "Periodic Fantasy" (1989) and "Magda Meets the Little Men in the Woods," (1989) Gloeckner emphasized the essential obliviousness of each protagonist through text. The reader of each story enjoys greater perspective on the events depicted than the characters, either by virtue of more experience or the willingness to more fully deal with the information on hand. Gloeckner makes the facts so easy to process the reader wonders if the characters are innocent or simply act that way.

imageThe greatest change during this period was the cumulative effect Gloeckner's comics began to have on her more attentive readers. Her growing body of work offered numerous similarities between stories, so many that it became increasingly clear that many of Gloeckner's shorts were connected. Gloeckner seemed to be making art either directly from events in her life or from some core experience with exploiters, victims and silent witnesses. Seeing Gloeckner's output as a body of work revealed new and uncomfortable truths. The hint of abuse at the ending of "The Bob Skoda Story," suddenly seemed a potential precursor to the sexual situation discussed in "It's Mary the Minor." The men of "Magda Meets the Little Men in the Woods" could be recognized as types in "Bob Skoda" and "Tommy and Darryl." Gloeckner would soon remove all doubt and use these assembled story elements in works that directly spoke to the issues around which she had danced for years.

Phoebe Gloeckner announced her arrival as a major cartoonist with the 1993 short story "Fun Things to Do With Little Girls" and 1994's masterpiece "Minnie's 3rd Love or 'Nightmare on Polk Street'." These startling pair of comics, a combined 16 pages long, brought together the events hinted at in earlier stories into a more cohesive and relatable whole. The adult Gloeckner appears in the first panel of both, in stunning pictures that forces consideration of each tale as a report on real-world events, with survivors and witnesses. Yet because Gloeckner remained distrustful of anyone's ability to depict the absolute truth, levels of outright obfuscation are immediately tossed into the mix. Some names are left out, while others have been changed (one might say to perplex the innocent) so that they don't necessarily match even the earlier fictional versions of these characters. Figures in the stories also became stylized or exaggerated. At times events are depicted archly, commentary and documentation mixed, like a bottle label in "Minnie's 3rd Love" that declares "the kind of good cheap California wine that makes girls cry and give blowjobs to jerks." The body of the latter story is even presented as fiction, with captions that relate the story as if it happened to someone else of no relation to the cartoonist.

Many of these narrative undercurrents were lost on readers because the stories themselves were so powerfully lurid. Each shows people in pain, and children suffering from sexual encounters and violence that are rarely this clearly depicted in any medium. Gloeckner's rendering is beautiful, the backgrounds well designed and the various figures standing in them bordering on the luminous. With so much eye candy it's easy to miss out on Gloeckner's use of an extremely smart formal trick in "Fun Things." Gloeckner employs repetition to draw a connection between the various forms of physical abuse. This touch might be lost on a reader given over to the narrative, but the abuse is clearly felt. "Minnie's 3rd Love" changes its pacing through slight variations on very formal layouts, larger panels that break the grid. Gloeckner drops illustrative flourishes to make the story move more quickly between these sections. The scenes which stop the flow thus feel much more abrupt than any similar momentum she had achieved in early stories. Together, the starting and stopping is a fantastic evocation of lost time and the moments that stay with one forever. If what many readers take away from "Minnie's 3rd Love" are the graphic depictions of oral sex, those scenes loom large due to the very deliberate pacing employed by the artist.

Gloeckner's flowering as an artist and writer prepared her almost too well for a trip into areas of human activity this dark. "Fun Things to Do With Little Girls" depicts the cruelty of her mother's second husband, and the barely submerged, scattered sexuality and anger that drives the man's relationships so effectively it's nearly intolerable to read. "Minnie's 3rd Love" follows the Minnie character during a long descent into a period of disinterested self-abuse that Gloeckner tracks in terms of the physical and emotional toll it exacts. A sexual relationship with her mother's boyfriend compounds Minnie's already emotionally raw state to the point she latches onto a child even more wild and needy than herself. Minnie reacts to this girl out of a mix of physical attraction and the appeal of having someone else direct her behavior. The girl becomes safe harbor and means of escape, and eventually fails Minnie in both ways. Gloeckner never hesitates to show the physical danger in which Minnie finds herself, or the ways in which she almost happily embraces her own exploitation.

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In these two stories Gloeckner unleashes the full force of a deadly addition to her artistic repertoire -- a freeze-frame effect whereby her drawing skill is used to draw attention to very specific, lurid moments. These oversized panels, with action framed by heavy blacks, read like instances of absolute clarity between long stretches of stumbling in the dark. The beauty with which Gloeckner depicts such sublimely horrid moments as a man about to enjoy oral sex with a young teenager complicates the reader's reaction. This discomfit testifies to the effectiveness of Gloeckner's art; further, it reinforces one of Gloeckner's more crucial themes. The reader's response reflects the doubts the character feels at the moment and mirrors Gloeckner's distrust years later in the accuracy of her memory when putting that moment on paper. This hesitant truth transcends any accounting of individual facts, yet is also held accountable by it. The reader may be able to pick up on only a few of Gloeckner's swarm of ideas during such a comprehensive visual assault, but feels the effect of them all.

Gloeckner added depth to Minnie's saga in several stories that followed "Minnie's 3rd Love." "The Girl From a Different World" (1996) gave an outsider's perspective on a similar group of events (here the female character having a relationship with an older father figure is called Penny). Gloeckner's provides a sympathetic portrayal of the boy who finds out about the girl's sexual history. He wants to understand, and continue to reach out, but feels battered by a wave of conflicting emotions that overtakes him. His good nature makes his inability to continue in a relationship with her that much more depressing. Gloeckner did two portrait-heavy stories during this period, "Time Out for Pain," (1996) and "A Decorative Pair," (1997) that feature more stylized body language and physical depictions that border on the grotesque. Both of these seem like a dry run for "One Best Friend Too Many," (1997) a rare trip into feelings and emotions that are not directly based on events from Gloeckner's childhood and teen years. She speaks of herself in interesting fashion here. "I'll tell you something else. I used to think that I was charming, and that my personality could compensate for my rough looks. But now, I realized that way back when, I wasn't half as ugly as a I thought I was, nor was I half as charming. Good time to realize it, now that I'm older, with all the beauty sucked out of me like dirty water wrung out of a rag." It's a more guarded and cautious approach to her self-evaluations, a reserved view of her reliability that would pop up later in The Diary of a Teenage Girl.

Gloeckner's most impressive broadening of Minnie's story takes place in the "A Child's Life" suite of new shorts created for the 1998 collection A Child's Life and Other Stories. Here she provides a context for later events by showing the younger Minnie picking her way through early feelings of self-worth, identity and sexuality. In "A Shoulder to Cry On," "Honni Soit Qui Mal Y Pense," and "Stepfatherly Counsel," Gloeckner tells tales of how Minnie's stepfather Pascal undermined the child's feelings of safety and security. This lays seeds of confusion that blossom into the decisions she makes as she matures. The stepfather also becomes an object of sexual discovery. He is the first explicitly naked and sexualized image she encounters. Pascal becomes instrumental in reinforcing certain attitudes that will bear fruit in Minnie's relationship with her mother's future boyfriend, such as casting doubt on his stepdaughter's ability to recognize female sexuality in "En Famille." The mother's absence and general unavailability, filtered through the presence of a man, also becomes apparent. The "Child's Life" stories reveal the undercurrent of foundational experiences through which all of the older Minnie stories and other teenaged works now seem inevitable.

imageA Child's Life and Other Stories proved to be a career-changing volume in another important way. The book arranged Gloeckner's stories by theme and age group depicted rather than according to a progression of Gloeckner's career. The reader was now able to confirm how many of Gloeckner's themes and events were apparent in earlier comics, like the waves of desire and guilt that afflict the female protagonist in "Tommy and Darryl" or the longing for experience that drives "Periodic Fantasy." The volume changed Gloeckner's reputation from that of a fabulous comics sprinter working out of narrative urgency to a considerable artist inexorably working towards the central, important events in her life. Any consistency lacking in terms of central, recurring characters Gloeckner more than compensated for through persistent unblinking attention to the darker aspects of unformed human personalities. The luridness in many of the depictions began to feel appropriately complex in this contest, the fruits of a search for meaning that valued events as truths without venerating them as unassailable. Gloeckner had emerged from her experiences close in spirit to the artists she admired as a teen, with the ability to look at any situation, even her own, and present it as compelling art.

Phoebe Gloeckner began to see every aspect of the medium as something to be utilized for artistic effect. "When I'm telling a story, it might be a sad or depressing tale, but the medium allows me to be slightly ironic," Gloeckner told interviewer Andrea Juno in an interview published in 1997. "It allows me to put humor in, and rise above projecting myself as victim. The medium has been used for humor, but you can use it as well to tell sad stories, and feed off the expectations people have of reading something funny. The form of a 'comic' sets up a tension." But instead of telling an ambitious story within the comics medium, as the literary-minded cartoonists of the alternative comics generation had been doing, Gloeckner shifted gears into a work where the way comics were used became as important as what they depicted. In 2002, publisher Frog Ltd released her mix of prose novel and comics The Diary of a Teenage Girl. For Diary, Gloeckner returned to her written teen journals for a meticulous re-telling of the events in one year of Minnie Goetze's life -- elaborations on many of the events depicted or hinted at in A Child's Life. Included within the pages of the text memoir were several illustrations and extended shifts into the comics form reminiscent of songs in a musical or fight scenes in a superhero comic.

One reviewer jokingly referred to Gloeckner's odyssey of explicit sexuality, emotional remove and desire to love as "Judy Blume on PCP." That was one of many scrambles for context into which the book prompted critics. Gloeckner's unsparing look at poorly developed moralities and casual exploitation of the people she knew as a teen forced readers into strange explanations for what they read. Mike Patton ended one short review for Jane by noting that the real-life protagonist had become "a lesbian and outright man-hater," much to the married Gloeckner's surprise. Critics had fewer problems with the shift between comics and prose, although many noted its novelty. One imagines many preferred substantial stretches of text to no text at all. It would prove to be her most reviewed work.

Ironically, Gloeckner proved less of a writer than she is a cartoonist, and not just because the prose was culled from her teenage years. Much of the writing in Diary seems artificial and perfunctory for a 16-year-old. "She's intelligent, but I think more than she does. About different things, maybe. She's good company and has a practical head but she just doesn't understand me. Lots of people don't understand me." Gloeckner also fails to communicate through text alone any sense of the narrator's unreliable ambiguity. Like all wise children, the teenaged Minnie is in many ways the adult she would become but in other areas she's faking it. It proves impossible to parse out when and where from her words. For The Diary of a Teenage Girl to function as both a girl depicting her present and a woman musing on her past, it needs the comics. The range and delicacy of the art in the Diary comics makes those sections some of Gloeckner's most accomplished work. The comics prove much more authoritative than the diary excerpts. Although there is some overlap in presentation, the comics essentially depict events at a remove while the prose gives the reader Minnie's more limited, personal interpretation. The comics segments are devoid of explicit sex, something Gloeckner may have done for narrative balance or in order to avoid legal difficulties in placing the work in libraries domestically and in bookstores overseas. With the absence of overt sexuality, the comics gain in trust. They lack the spectacular collision of confusing emotional reactions that erupt from the overt depictions of sex in "Minnie's 3rd Love." The comics voice in Diary is the mature counterpoint to the young prose writer's wild acting out.

Diary marks another quiet, almost imperceptible shift in Gloeckner's style. More than simply depicting a physical reality, or making the art conform to the needs of her narrative, Gloeckner's comics embody the relative compassion with which she views her major characters at different points in the story. Gloeckner displays Minnie as plainly attractive (the sequence on pages 60-64 featuring a ride she takes with Ricky Wasserman), idealized and innocent (an illustration on page 115 with the great caption "How does one become a prostitute?") and rougher, much harder to look at (a sequence on the telephone, pages 174-175). She softens characters like Monroe in a few single illustrations (pages 10, 143) that almost feel like the reader is seeing him through Minnie's eyes. Yet the point of view can't be Minnie's throughout, as Gloeckner depicts the male characters acting in ways that Minnie claims not to understand. It's Gloeckner the cartoonist, looking back, making her insight known in those moments.

The adult artist's presence proves sympathetic and forgiving. Faces loom according to their place in Minnie's heart (200). The physical depiction of figures next to one another, including the casual intimacy of one person with their arm around another, provides commentary on every relationship (148, 233). Gloeckner shrinks the physical spaces that become restrictive, like Minnie's room and her kitchen, and shrinks her character when she's out in unfamiliar places (194). Vivid objects, a diary entry or a fondly remembered poster, might be depicted using photographed material placed within the art. The nature of the Gloeckner's input crystallizes when Minnie's teenaged comics are included in the course of the text (120, 183). The early cartoons feature a completely different voice than the prose or adult-drawn comics offer, a voice less accomplished, more confused, and plainly desiring to expand her world of experience. Gloeckner has long admitted to her inability to stick to one version of any event. Her graceful, light touch with many of the characters, some who might seem irredeemable, makes Diary a testament to reconciliation. Everyone in Diary operates out of a lack of enlightenment, an unformed personality upon which they project proper behavior. The present-day cartoonist feels many of the same conflicts as the teenager; she's just not frightened by what they mean. The comics in The Diary of a Teenage Girl are used not only to force consideration of certain images or to occasionally break with a specific point of view, but as masterful suggestions that we never fully inhabit a moment and never fully leave them.

Gloeckner's use of a fuller, more complex range of comics effects in Diary excites the reader in terms of future work. She has displayed the facility to tackle any topic, including a continued exploration into instances and ideas from her past. She obviously has developed the tools for doing so in a compelling fashion. One fascinating aspect of Diary is Gloeckner's use of diagrammatic, heavily text-filled comics in a scene where Minnie plays a self-help tape she steals from Monroe's apartment. That approach perfectly suits a personal lecture style, and has since found its way to another comic of Gloeckner's in the first of these Comics Journal specials. Her effectiveness with a twelve-panel grid improves throughout the book. In the extended comics section (281-283) that closes Diary, Gloeckner wrings drama out of simple changes in perspective and a sly use of idealized figure drawing to depict herself as a poor innocent. Gloeckner has become an admirable cartoonist not only for the power of her work, and not solely for her continued grasp of comics narrative, but for the way in which her comics have fallen in tune with her moral outlook. Gloeckner's best stories regard truth as an unattainable goal but perhaps the only one worth pursuing. Her art may be the closest approximation of our own silent recalibrations and reconfigurations, our attempts to do justice to the past while making our way in the present. As the artist herself puts it, "The truth always changes, and in the end there is almost no truth. The truth is reduced to a feeling, which is either genuine or not."

-O-

Selected Phoebe Gloeckner Bibliography

Work By Phoebe Gloeckner
*"It's Mary the Minor," 1976.
*"Private Display," Wimmen's Comix, Last Gasp, San Francisco: 1982.
*"Vocational Training," Wimmen's Comix, Last Gasp, San Francisco: 1984.
*"Cat Litter Caper," 1984, Revised in 1998.
*"The Bob Skoda Story," 1984, Revised in 1998.
"Tommy and Darryl," 1984, Revised in 1998 and published in Buzzard #20.
+*"Magda Meets the Little Men in the Woods," Wimmen's Comix, Rip Off Press, Auburn: 1989.
+*"Quaker School Q-Ties," Weirdo, Last Gasp: 1989.
+*"Periodic Fantasy," Weirdo, Last Gasp: 1989.
Illustration, RE/Search #12: Modern Primitives, Re/Search Publications, 1989.
+*"An Evening in Prague," Young Lust #7, Last Gasp, San Francisco: 1990.
+*"The Sad Tale of the Visible Woman and Her Invisible Man," Wimmen's Comix, Rip Off Press, Auburn: 1990.
*Various Paintings and Drawings, The Atrocity Exhibition, JG Ballard, RE/Search Publications, San Francisco: 1990.
Various Illustrations in Angry Women, Angry Women of Rock, Future Sex Magazine, and San Francisco Bay Guardian, 1991-1996.
Various stories, Twisted Sisters, Viking/Penguin, New York: 1992. (Reprinting stories designated by a +)
Illustrations, Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, Barricade Books, New York: 1992.
*"Fun Things to Do With Little Girls," Weirdo, Last Gasp: 1993 and reprinted in Chain #2, Chain, Buffalo: 1995.
Illustrations, Weird Things You Can Grow, Janet Goldenberg, 1994.
*"Minnie's 3rd Love or 'Nightmare on Polk Street'," Twisted Sisters II: Drawing the Line, Kitchen Sink Press, Northampton: 1994.
*"Time Out for Pain," Buzzarrd, Cat-Head: 1996.
Illustrations, Weird but True: A Cartoon Encyclopedia of Incredibly Strange Things, HarperTrophy, New York: 1997.
Illustrations, Angry Women in Rock, Juno, New York: 1996.
*"A Decorative Pair," Buzzard, Cat-Head: 1997.
*"The Girl From a Different World," Mind Riot: Coming of Age in Comics, Simon and Schuster, New York 1997.
*"One Best Friend too Many," Buzzard, Cat-Head: 1997.
Illustrations, Exploding Toilet: Tales Too Funny to Be True, HarperCollins, New York: 1998.
Illustrations, The Chicken-Fried Rat: Tales Too Gross to Be True, HarperCollins, New York: 1998.
Illustrations, The Baby-Sitter's Nightmare: Tales Too Scary to Be True, HarperCollins, New York: 1998.
Cover Illustration, Buzzard #20, Cat-Head: 1998. (Also included revised version of 1984's "Tommy and Darryl.")
A Child's Life and Other Stories, Frog Ltd., Berkeley: 1998. (Includes the 1998 "A Child's Life" suite and reprinting the previously published stories designated by a *.)
Cover, The RE/Search Guide to Bodily Fluids, Juno Books, 1999.
Illustrations, Embryogenesis: Species, Gender, and Identity, North Atlantic Books, 2000.
A Child's Life and Other Stories, Revised Edition, Frog Ltd., Berkeley: 2000.
"I Hate Comics," The Comics Journal Special Edition Volume One, 2001.
Two-page Strip on Music, The Comics Journal Special Edition Volume Two, 2002.
Illustrations, The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex, Cleis Press, 2002.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Frog Ltd., Berkeley: 2002.

Articles on Phoebe Gloeckner
Entry, Women and the Comics, Trina Robbins and Catherine Yronwode. Eclipse Books. (1985)
Entry, The Great American Comic Strip, Judith O'Sullivan. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. (1990)
Entry, A Century of Women Cartoonists, Trina Robbins. Northampton, Mass.: Kitchen Sink Press. (1993)
"Gloeckner Does Children's Books," The Comics Journal #172. (November 1994)
Entry, Comics, Comix & Graphic Novels, Roger Sabin. London: Phaidon. (1996)
Entry, Dangerous Drawings, Edited by Andrea Juno. New York: Juno Books. (1997)
"A Child's Life: Phoebe Gloeckner," Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Journal #207. (September 1998)
"Walking Wounded," Richard Von Busack, MetroActive. (September, 1998)
"Artistic License," Stephen Whitworth, The Carillon, University of Regina. (November 1998)
"Cartoonist Pens Life on Mean Streets," Kimberly Chun, San Francisco Chronicle. (November 13, 1998)
"In the Beholder's Eye," Betsey Culp, San Francisco Flier. (November 24, 1998)
Entry, From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of Comics From Teens to Zines, Trina Robbins. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. (1999)
"Introduction to A Child's Life (Italian edition)," Asia Argento. (2000)
"Phoebe Gloeckner Is Creating Stories About the Dark Side of Growing Up Female," Peggy Orenstein, New York Times Magazine. (August 5, 2001)
"True Stories," Sandy Asirvatham, Baltimore Citypaper Online. (February 6-12, 2002)
"A Girl's World: She Lived to Tell the Tale, and Draw It, Too," Anneli Rufus, East Bay Express. (February 27, 2002)
"Portrait of the Artist as a Teenage Girl," Andrew Arnold, TIME online edition. (October 24, 2002)
"An Indelible Woman-Child, in Words and Pictures," Dodie Bellamy, The San Francisco Chronicle. (December 22, 2002)
"5 out of 5 Stars," Alan David Doane, Comic Book Galaxy. (December 30, 2002)
Entry, "Forty Artists Who Will Shake the World," UTNE Arts 2003 Edition. (December 2002)
Interview Segment, Sex TV!!. (2002)
"The Little Girl Everyone Wanted to Ask to the Dance," Alfredo Villar, Panico! (2002)
"Lit Pick: The Diary of a Teenage Girl," Sari Globerman, Bust Magazine. (January 2003)
"The Diary of a Teenage Girl," Bernice Yeung, San Francisco Weekly. (January 29, 2003)
"5 Stars out of 5," Rebecca Onion, YM Magazine. (February 2003)
"Rape is Meant for Places Like This," Mike Patton, Jane Magazine. (February 2003)
"A Mighty Force: Portrait from a Teen's Point of View," Nancy Redwine, The Santa Cruz Sentinel. (February 18, 2003)
"Highly Recommended," Richard Von Busack, Metroactive. (February 19, 2003)
"The Nerve Interview: Phoebe Gloeckner," Michael Martin, Nerve.com. (March 6, 2003)
"Not Your Mother's Comic Book: The Salon Interview," Whitney Joiner, Salon.com. (March 15, 2003)
"A 15-16 Year Old Girl Comes of a Age in Mid-70s San Francisco," Gygax, Pataphysics Research Journal. (March 23, 2003)
"Life Imitates Art: Underground cartoonist's latest work brutally honest," Rod Weatherbie, Toronto Observer. (April 3, 2003)