Interview with Jessica Hagy, Author of Indexed

Jessica Hagy is the creator of Indexed, the webcomic that is thought-provoking, brilliant, and so deceptively simple that you wonder why you didn’t think of it first.

Until you realize Jessica has a unique mind that is difficult to imitate.

Her creations are not always about religion, but her notecard canvases includes these personal favorites of mine:

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Jessica’s book, also titled Indexed, will be coming out on February 28th.

She was kind enough to answer my questions about her creative process, religious background, and dangers associated with the job. She even made a special card for Friendly Atheist readers!

Hemant Mehta: What is your day job (and when are you going to leave it…)?

Jessica Hagy: I’m a freelance writer. I wouldn’t want to leave that, as much as I’d like to morph it from corporate to humor work. I’ve been picking up more random projects—and the more random they are, the more fun they tend to be. Hooray for that.

HM: When did you know Indexed had made it big?

JH: When it ran in the BBC magazine last year.

HM: Which Card has generated the most acclaim? Controversy?

JH: The 7 Sins card has been the most forwarded around. The most controversy, well, that depends on who you ask.

HM: Where do you get the inspirations for the Cards?

JH: Mostly just by watching very ordinary life go by and by eavesdropping (online and off).

HM: What is your thought process in creating a Card? (As in how do you decide the best graph/chart to use, which words to use, etc.)

JH: I draw way more than I post, and usually, it’s the graphs with the most interpretations that I post—the ones that act like Rorschach tests tend to be the more interesting to me.

HM: What’s the time frame for a Card from conception to blog?

JH: That depends on where I’m doodling. If I’m drawing in front of my computer, it’s just a few minutes. But sometimes a stack of cards will hide out in my backpack for a week before they make it to my scanner.

HM: What do you do with the Cards after they’ve been scanned and published?

JH: I’m on my 3rd shoebox-type box, I think I’m up to 1300 cards now. They actually make boxes specifically for index cards, which tells me that I’m not the only compulsive card hoarder out there.

HM: Papercuts. A job hazard?

JH: Indeed! I have undertaken quite the dangerous profession.

HM: Some of your Cards seem to have an atheistic bent (like in the Faith section of your site). What are your own beliefs regarding religion?

JH: I think that a person can be a “good” person by learning from after-school specials or Grimm’s fairy tales, and religious stories are just another way to tell morality stories. I consider myself a secular humanist, and have since I escaped Catholic School when I was 14.

HM: What’s the deal with the self-portrait on your site…?

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JH: I really never thought anyone would find my weird blog, and that’s just a little doodle I tossed out. Now, it’s sort of my elf icon. There are knitting sites that offer instructions on indexed hats(!)—and to answer the five emails I’ll get this week about it in advance: no, those are not underpants on my head.

HM: Does everyone you know just get you notecards for Christmas/your birthday/every-occasion-*ever*?

JH: Nope, but I have made friends with some cool guys at Staples who sell index cards to me in bulk. I expense that stuff on my taxes! I did get a spiffy new scanner for Xmas, though.

HM: How has this attention impacted your life?

JH: I actually kept indexed a secret from my real-life friends and family for at least 6 months, because the whole thing came out of nowhere and sorta freaked me out. Now, I’m just trying to have fun with it, to roll with the craziness.

I’ve met and gotten to work with so many great people through this blog—the biggest thing I think I’ve learned is that everyone (everyone!) is just an email away. And yeah, that’s what spammers have known for years, but it’s really a little fact that’s made me feel a lot less creatively isolated (I live in Ohio right now).

HM: Marry me? (Pretty please?)

JH: Sorry, I’m already married—but I do have some very friendly (and cute, don’t forget cute) atheist friends.

HM: 3×5 versus 5×7… Discuss.

JH: 3×5: quick, simple, visually easy to digest, fits in all pockets

5×7: long narrative or big net of info, also good for grocery lists

HM: What topics do you enjoy drawing about the most?

JH: I think the most fun is starting with one topic in mind and bouncing by tangents until that topic and another one align neatly. Structure helps with deadlines, but free-form association is like solving a puzzle. And cannibalism is always funny.

HM: What is the ideal response to someone reading your cards?

JH: I want my readers to smile.

And just for us, Jessica created this card:

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Go get her book before it’s sold out everywhere :)


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]


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