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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarianism in the News

March 1, 2011 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

Not All Lollipops Are for Suckers

Always on the lookout for artistic, musical, and literary vegan talent that we could spotlight in our web magazine, we were delighted when we received an email from Lara Matthews telling us how she spreads the vegan message. Lara, a web/graphic designer, has been drawing the Lola Lollipop cartoon strip for the last four years. Each of her cartoons is accompanied by a related quote from a well-known person. Samples of Lara's cartoons can be found at Lola Lollipop.

Readers who want more cartoons than those on the website can find them in Lara's book Lola Lollipop: Animals Are Evil. One of her unusual talents is the ability to speak backwards.

Vegetarians in Paradise had an opportunity to interview Lara so that our readers could learn about the artist behind this delightful comic strip. We are grateful to her for taking time to answer our questions.

Lola Lollipop What events in your life led you to become vegetarian? What brought you to veganism?

I was actually never vegetarian. I went from being pescatarian (eating only fish) to being vegan. I'm not sure the idea of eating meat ever sat well with me, but it was how I was raised and it was the "norm." When I eventually stopped eating meat, I conveniently drew my line of compassion right before fish (a.k.a. sushi).

When I was researching and compiling my book, Lola Lollipop: Animals Are Evil, the quotes inspired me to go vegan. Based on what I read and learned, no matter how much I liked sushi and ice cream (answer: a LOT), I didn't feel right eating them any more--especially when there are (thankfully) so many great vegan ice cream alternatives.

How have your family and friends reacted to your transitioning to a plant-based diet? Does Lola Lollipop reflect your relationships with your family?

I wouldn't exactly say anyone's been "thrilled" about it. More than anything else, I think it's just a giant "inconvenience" for others when you're over at their place and what not. For whatever reason, people feel really bad when they have nothing to feed you and you incessantly complain about how hungry you are and how they have nothing to feed you.

Lola Lollipop doesn't really reflect my family since I was always eating meat growing up. The closest I ever got to being "vegetarian" would be when my brothers would tease/torment me about the happy cow I was eating and I would ask for permission to finish my steak in my bedroom.

How long have you been drawing cartoons? What got you started? Did you draw other cartoons before Lola Lollipop? Was there a reason for choosing that name? How long has Lola been in existence?

I've only been drawing cartoons since Lola Lollipop came into existence about four years ago. A comic strip seemed like the best medium for what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it.

"Lola" was actually my nickname growing up. And "Lollipop" just seemed like the logical last name for a little girl focused on healthy eating and nutrition.

Is cartooning your vocation or avocation or both? If cartooning is not your vocation, what is your 9 to 5 employment?

I work as a web/graphic designer by day.

Lola Lollipop
Could you tell us about your art training?

I grew up painting and drawing, but I never drew any cartoons or comic strips. I went to The School of The Art Institute of Chicago for Visual Communication and I've been a graphic designer ever since. Suffice it to say, Lola Lollipop is quite the detour from all of my oil paintings of fruit baskets and lighthouses.

You have published a book titled Lola Lollipop: Animals Are Evil. For someone who is interested in animal rights and vegetarianism, that seems like a contradiction. Can you help us understand your selection of that title?

I am a very confused individual--kidding. The name of the book reflects the sarcasm of the comic strip and also references a particular comic strip where Lola is told that we eat animals because they're evil. I remain hopeful that nobody will take the cover literally and eat as many animals as possible to rid our world of all evil.

Does your book contain cartoons not shown on your website?

Yes, my book contains many cartoons and quotes not available on my website.

On the About the Author page of your book you say that you have always been able to speak backwards. Could you explain?

I've always been able to speak backwards phonetically. If I can say it forwards, I can say it backwards instantaneously. I never taught myself how to do this, so I always assumed everyone else could speak backwards as well. In seventh grade, my older brothers informed me that wasn't the case; I was in total shock, so I assumed they were messing with me … until I started asking around.

Lola Lollipop Cartoon
We were curious about your production schedule. Approximately how many cartoons do you produce each week?

This number's all over the place--it depends on everything else I'm working on and how much sleep I need. I'm always creating "not so stellar" sketches, but most of them have yet to be realized on the computer.

A quotation dealing with animal issues usually appears beneath one of your cartoons. You must have quite a collection of quotations. Do you find the quote after you've drawn the cartoon, or does the quote serve as inspiration?

I almost always come up with the cartoon idea before finding a quote.

Can you give our readers an insight into the process you use in developing a cartoon? What are the most common controversial themes posed in your cartoons?

I don't have a "set" process. I really just try to come up with ideas whenever I can. Conversations, books, websites, restaurants, food--life gives me ideas.

I would say any of my comics dealing with animals could be construed as controversial. People generally have stronger convictions about whether or not they should eat meat than whether or not they should eat monounsaturated fatty acids to help them lose belly fat.

Have you received negative feedback on any of your cartoons? Alternately, what positive praise have you encountered to make you feel good?

Hmmm. I'm guessing that a lot of people who would have negative feedback aren't spending a lot of time reading my comics (no need to start now). I've gotten positive feedback mostly for comics that have to do with vegetarianism or veganism.

What are your future plans? Will there be new cartoon characters appearing in the future?

Lola Lollipop will definitely cover more issues surrounding veganism, animal rights, and other issues brought up in my book. Lola just got a pet cat and I do envision other furry creatures in her life, but the details are … um … fuzzy.

Thank you so much for the interview. I sincerely wish I found you in 1999 when I was eating cheeseburgers and fried chicken. Thank you for your website and everything you do to support vegetarianism.

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