Let’s face it, the dating scene ain’t what it used to be. Technology has made it much more convenient, but it has also brought along a whole new set of frustrations and anxieties. It’s enough to make you scream — or in the case of New York-based illustrator, letterer and ADC Member Victoria Black, it’s enough to make you draw.
Victoria has recently launched Modern Romance, a racy personal comic strip that serves as an outlet for both her dating vexations and her artistic talent. We recently chatted with Victoria about her comic.
So what’s Modern Romance about?
Modern Romance is a fun way to document how ridiculous (and fun) modern dating can be. After reading Aziz Ansar’s book — donning the same title — about the current state of dating culture, it really got me thinking that dating really isn’t what it used to be.
Is it safe to assume that it was inspired by real-world experiences? If so, is creating this comic strip cathartic, or has it evolved into something more fun?
At first the Modern Romance comic started as a coping mechanism. After getting back in the dating scene after a two-year hiatus, I had been on a slew of awful dates and it was becoming exhausting. Swiping, creeping, dead-end conversations, the straight-up inability to talk to someone in person, finally meeting, listening to stories about exes, trying to think of ways to leave a bad date, being ghosted, ghosting, slut-shamed, rejected, stalked. It was insane, almost unbelievable.
Then I started to draw my experiences, turns out, a lot of people could relate and generally just thought it was funny that I was putting it out there. Knowing that made me feel a lot more comfortable and now it’s a lot of fun.
Which one was your favorite to bring to life, even if the experience behind it wasn’t fantastic?
My favorite piece has to be the “Come Over and Suck My Dick You Frigid Mermaid Whore” lettering. A gentleman — scratch that, some dude — said that to me via text after I politely denied his sexual advances. Of course, nobody in their right mind would say that in person, but it’s funny how comfortable people feel behind a phone.
What has the response been like? Any word from fans or detractors?
There have been a lot of interesting responses to the comic. Most are positive, especially in the art community, which I am so thankful for. Lots of people have similar experiences and share the same frustrations that I illustrate. To me, that’s great and it’s even better if people think it’s funny. If it puts a smile on someone’s face then it’s totally worth it.
Sadly, you gotta take the bad with the good. There has been a lot of negativity surrounding Modern Romance. My comic includes the sexual aspect of dating and I’m pretty honest about it. This has lead people to think it’s acceptable to send me explicit messages. Frankly it’s scary, and ahem…rape culture.
On the other hand, some gentlemen find my comic to be intimidating, labeling me as a “man-hater” fearing that there will be a comic about them. This is a total bummer, especially when you really like the person but they take your silly comic too seriously.
Finally, there are the trolls, which are straight up weird. Recently I went on a date with a man who purposely made the date terrible and then ended the night by saying “Okay, so are you gonna draw me now?! I want to be Instagram famous!”
WHAT. THE. EFF.
My comic is pretty blunt. I talk about my opinions and my sexuality, which can be considered controversial. Not everyone thinks it’s proper or appropriate.
How has such a provocative comic strip affected your professional work?
Unfortunately I’ve lost some potential clients due to the comic; some companies do not wish to be associated with the nature of my personal work. This is a tough pill to swallow, being that my personal work as an artist, and my professional work as a designer are separate worlds.
Now I know you’re not old enough to say “back in my day, things were like this!” but how do you envision what the dating scene must’ve been like before “modern” socially connected, Tinder-ed up times?
Not that long ago, I remember dating without swiping. It was mustering up to the courage to go over and talk to that person your attracted to. That itself is a simple concept but it never happens. When I think about how old married couples met it always baffles me. It seems so romantic: they met in high school, the man had to pick the lady up at her house and they went to a movie, he walked her home.
Nowadays you swipe on a person’s face, have meaningless conversation for five days, finally meet for a drink because an actual date is too much of an investment, compare tastes in music because anything too deep would be weird, anxiously wonder if you have to split the bill or will the guy pay for it. You have to wait to text or else you’re considered “thirsty”, you creep their Instagram, but never like anything and know they’re doing the exact same thing. Then continue “dating” other people even though you like someone and then start the whole brutal cycle over again, until you finally hear from the person you like. But then you wait four hours to respond to them and formulate the most perfect response. Hopefully you go on another date but don’t ruin it by doing something too intense or talking about what you actually want. Hopefully he pays for the drinks this time and remembers that important thing you wanted him to remember. Maybe he will offer his sweater when you mention you’re cold… but he’ll probably just call you an Uber.
This is “Romance” nowadays.
Tags: Victoria Black