Interview With A Veg Head : Debbie Andrews Of Violet’s Veg*n E-Comics.

8 Nov

This is the first time I have decided to interview someone and I could not have picked a better person. It was so fun to learn about another veg head, to read what they feel. Yes I said ‘read what they feel’ because that was the exact message I got from the interview the wonderful Debbie Andrews of Violet’s Veg*n E-Comics was so kind enough to provide. I reached out to interview Debbie after some internet chat and she kindly did not shoot down my request, I thank her for that 😉

Her site is rad and I could go on for days about how compassionate, in touch and cool Debbie is but I will let the following speak for itself. Read below to get the 4-1-1 on Debbie, her lifestyle and her awesome website, which can be found at http://violetsvegnecomics.com. I’ll let Debbie tell you the rest…

Violet’s Veg*n e-comics

1.     Tell us about yourself – name, where you live, children, activities you enjoy, how long you have been drawing.

My name is Debbie Andrews and I live in East Sussex, England with my husband and youngest daughter, Eve.  I like walking in the country, especially in woodlands, reading, watching movies and drawing.  I always loved drawing but until about a year ago did not find much time for it in adulthood.  I used to draw pictures of the girls when they were sleeping babies, and made sure I did at least one painting a year when they were growing up, but apart from that I did very little for a long time

2.     Tell us about your vegan lifestyle.  How long have you been vegan, why you went vegan, are you raising vegan children and if so how is that.

Darren and I were vegetarian when we met so there was no question that we would raise our children veggie.  We always told the girls why we didn’t eat meat and they understood and agreed.  I remember when Emily was about 5 we were on holiday and she just out of the blue asked a stranger if she was vegetarian.

The woman said “no, I’m afraid not.”

Emily just looked at her thoughtfully and said “Nanny ate fish once but she didn’t mean it.”

A couple of years later we were in a sweet shop after school and both girls were choosing a sweet treat.  In the past when other people had given them sweets I hadn’t told them about gelatin, but when I saw them choosing gelatin-laced sweets for themselves I decided to explain.  I told them what it was, where it came from and that it was in the sweets they’d chosen.  I told them it was their decision whether they still wanted to buy those sweets.  Emily immediately said no, she would choose something else but Eve (who was 4) just looked at the packet in her hand and then at me and said, “I don’t think I’m old enough to understand.”  She kept her sweets.

I have such happy memories of those years but they went by so fast!  I loved it when it was school holidays and we didn’t have to clock-watch.  We were free and could do whatever we wanted together.  When Eve was almost 9 and Emily almost 12 – 10 years ago – we became vegan, as a family, by mutual consent.  It was inevitable as we discovered that free range hens did not live out their natural lives happy on the farm; and cows were heartlessly deprived of their babies year after year in order to provide us with milk.  The more we learned the more we realised that being vegetarian wasn’t enough.

It was around the same time that we embarked on our adventure in home-education.  It was wonderful.  I can honestly say that was the happiest time in my life so far.  It’s brilliant when you’re dissatisfied with the world to be able to create a new one.  Suddenly we were free.  We had days of baking; days of drawing; days of gardening; days of sewing.  We went swimming and cycling; and on coach trips to museums and other places of interest.  And we read so many books together – from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Charles Dickens to the Brontës to Jane Austen.  We read Dracula together and it was such fun.

3.     Tell us about your site: what it’s about; what you hope to accomplish with it and why comics.

Eating animal flesh (gross!) and drinking the milk of another species (yuck!) is seen as normal, and eating only plant foods is seen as weird, radical, strange.  We are conditioned to behave in a certain way in society.  From birth, if we are born to omnivorous parents, we are indoctrinated to believe that eating animals is normal; that the purpose of farm animals, different from pet animals or wild animals, is to feed us.  Before this indoctrination has become entrenched, many children are naturally and instinctively opposed to killing animals so that some parents feel compelled to lie about what is on their plates in order to get them to eat it.  I once heard a woman in a bakery ordering a chicken pasty and her shocked little girl said,

“That’s not the same as the chicken in the farm yard is it?”

“No darling,” her mother lied, “it’s not.”

Another time, on a crowded train, a little boy stood next to me, looking out the window, delighting in the animals he could see in the fields.  He told me that he loved the horses and the pigs and the lambs.

His Dad laughed at this and said, “yes, you do love lamb on your plate don’t you?”

The boy looked sad and said, “It’s unkind to kill them.”  He was about 4 or 5 years old.

In addition to what our parents tell us, we are also persuaded of this meat-eating normalcy by the story books and picture books we read as young children.  How many times have we read stories about the daring rescues of dogs, cats, horses, or whales by ‘animal lovers’ who go on to enjoy roast chicken, lamb chops, or a bacon sandwich?  These kind of stories are so prevalent in children’s literature that it must be hard for readers not to absorb the subliminal message that ‘eating meat is normal’, ‘kind people eat meat’, ‘animal lovers eat meat’, ‘it’s normal!’.  What we need therefore is a new normal!

I happily confess that I am an idealist, a wishful thinker.  I love reading stories because I love the escapism.  I love being able to escape this dissatisfying world and go somewhere better.  I love comic-type stories with fantastic plots and super-powers.  I love the idea of brave, intelligent people or beings, fighting for what’s right and defeating evil.  But what’s even better is creating my own world – where the heroes are vegan and not only fight for truth and justice but for the animals with whom they share their world.  Jasmine, Vegan Comic for girls, is modelled on girls’ comics of the 1970s.  I used to love it when my Tammy & Misty came every week and I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next in the new episodes of the stories I was following.  With Jasmine I hope to provide some of that excitement for veggie girls of around 8 years and up.  The comic contains 3 serialised stories: ‘Reflecto Girl’    about a vegan girl who is given an ancient celtic mirror which has the power to reflect a person’s misdeeds on to them; ‘Venus Aqueous’ about a champion swimmer who develops the ability to understand underwater species; and ‘Megan & Flos’ about the friendship between a vegan girl and an alien being who needs her help.  They are such fun stories to write and draw and I look forward to continuing with them for a long time.  Jasmine #3 is nearly completed.

For younger children I have written some short rhyming stories which I have illustrated to make little picture books.  So far these include I’m not dinner, in which  chickens, bullocks and piglets explain to various people why they don’t want to be eaten; Edmund’s lunch about a vegan boy whose lunch is considered peculiar until he explains why he doesn’t want to eat cheese strings; and Emmeline Rose which is simply a little girl’s musings about the wonders of the world.  I look forward to adding more little picture books to this list and I have an idea for a comic for little boys thanks to some feedback from a customer whose twin vegan boys have promised to help me.

For older readers there is Maddicts which is set 15 years into the future when human dementia caused by meat addiction has reached epidemic proportions.  It’s kind of satirical, darkly funny and dramatic.  Maddicts Volume 1 is on the site but Volume 2 is not quite complete.  I hope it will be finished before too long so that I can post it and complete the story.  Also for older readers is Let the dogs out which I drew in support of a campaign run by a friend of mine to close down a laboratory breeding facility.

In addition Eve has added a story of her own to the collection – The Rebel Gang and the Number Ciphers – which is a funny, messy, often badly spelled children’s conspiracy theory type story.

There’s so much I want to do there just aren’t enough hours in the day!

Originally my idea was to make traditional printed comics, albeit homemade, and I opened a web shop to sell them (www.violets-vegan-comics.com).  I printed them in black and white because colour would have made them too expensive.  But then, a few weeks ago, I discovered that I couldn’t recycle my compatible ink cartridges.  Since learning about the devastation caused to wildlife and our oceans by plastic I have been doing my best to avoid it entirely.  I don’t buy anything if it comes in plastic packaging (apart from margarine – the only thing I haven’t been able to find unpackaged or paper-wrapped).  However, I was still buying plastic ink cartridges, telling myself I had to make an exception because I needed to produce my comics, and anyway I would recycle them.  Finding out that only original brand name cartridges could be recycled meant that I had to stop.  So, I decided to go virtual and now I think that’s even better!  I was thrilled to be able to put colour into my pictures – I love colour, and I know children do too.  Going virtual means that potentially I can reach many more people and I won’t be creating any waste.  I named the new site Violet’s Veg*n (as opposed to vegan) e-comics as I want to include veggie as well as vegan children who are all on the same compassionate path.

It’s early days but it’s going well and I’m loving it.  I’ve had good feedback from those who have seen some of the stories and I really hope the children will like it.  I want them to be encouraged, inspired and entertained.  I want to give them characters that they can relate to who are brave and clever, cool and special like them.  Veggie kids who save the world!

Please come and take a look at http://violetsvegnecomics.com .  Thank you.

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One Response to “Interview With A Veg Head : Debbie Andrews Of Violet’s Veg*n E-Comics.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Megan & Flos #1 by Violet’s Veg*n e-Comics | First Night Design - November 4, 2013

    […] Interview with Debbie Andrews, the lady behind Violet’s Veg*n E-Comics (veggiefitness.wordpress.com) […]

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