Nina's Adventures, by Nina Paley

Nina Paley is an American comic artist and animator. She drew the autobiographical comics series 'Nina's Adventures' (1988-1995) before moving to a more mainstream style with the gag-a-day comics 'Fluff' (1995-1997) and 'The Hots' (2002-2003). Her web comic 'Mimi & Eunice' (2010) is well known for making a stance for free content share. As an animator her most acclaimed film is "Sita Sings the Blues' (2008), a semi-autobiographical look at Hinduism.

Early life and career
She was born in 1968 as the daughter of a Jewish math professor, who once was mayor of her bith city Urbana, Illinois. Nina's cousin, Deborah Yanowski, is also active as a painter. Her first comic strip, 'History of the North Pole', was made in collaboration with her high school history teacher Chris Butler. As a teenager she also tried out making animation films. Paley studied art at the University of Illinois and published her first illustrations and cartoons in the college newspaper The Daily Illini. Around this time she also discovered Sam Hurt's 'Eyebeam', Matt Groening's 'Life in Hell' and Lynda Barry's comics, which made her realize that the medium could also discuss more meaningful adult themes, without losing your sense of humor.

Nina's Adventures
In 1988 Paley moved to Santa Cruz, where she created her best known work, 'Nina's Adventures'. The comic strip was based on her journals and a personal outlet for her depressions. It was published in several news weeklies until 1995, including the Santa Cruz Comic News, The L.A. Reader, Comic Relief Magazine, The Funny Times and The San Francisco Examiner. The autobiographical underground comic was later collected in the paperbacks 'Nina's Adventures' and 'Depression is Fun'.

Fluff by Nina Paley

Lack of money and unhappiness with her status as "underground cartoonist" motivated Paley to move to a mainstream syndicate: Universal Press. Between 1995 and 1997 she published 'Fluff', a gag strip about dog and cat behaviour. Once again she felt limited by the format and cancelled the comic after two years.

The Hots
Together with script writer Stephen Hersh she created 'The Hots' in 2002, a gag-a-day comic about a young Jewish couple in New York, syndicated by King Features. Contrary to popular thought Paley and Hersh weren't a couple and the strip was therefore not a reflection of their romantic life. The strip was cancelled in 2003 because not enough newspapers carried it to make its publication lucrative.

Mimi & Eunice by Nina Paley
'Mimi & Eunice'.

Mimi & Eunice
In 2010 Paley created the philosophical gag comic 'Mimi & Eunice', which she published on her personal blog. It features two anthropomorphic dog-like creatures who are more head than body. A recurring theme in their discussions is copyright law and intellectual property. Paley herself is a vocal proponent of free content share. Her comics and animated cartoons are made available online for copying and file sharing. She's also the creator of the slogan "Copying Is Not Theft", which she made both into an educational short as well as a song.

Sita Sings the Blues
Still from: 'Sita Sings The Blues'.

Animation career
Paley is also active as an animator. She gained notability with 'Pandorama' (1999), a cameraless film shown in IMAX theaters. 'Fetch!' (2001) was a humorous animated short based on various optical illusions. 'The Stork' (2003) was controversial because of its satirical attack on population growth. The film depicts storks dropping babies from the sky and destroying Earth as a result.

Sita Sings the Blues
In 2002 Paley's husband moved to India for six months because of a new job. After a month he told her that his stay would be prolonged for another year. Paley paid a surprise visit to the country, only to be surprised herself when her husband no longer seemed to be interested in her. Upon her return to her homeland he effectively terminated her relationship by sending her a mail. Depressed, Paley found comfort in the 'Ramayana', an ancient Indian poem she read during her stay in India. The events inspired her best known animated feature, 'Sita Sings the Blues', which premiered on 11 February 2008 during the Berlin International Film Festival. The film is both a personal account of her marital troubles as well as a playful, but respectful adaptation of Hinduism in the style of a musical.

Her next animated project, 'Seder-Masochism' (2018), was made in the same spirit, but delved into her own religious background. It analyzes the Book of Exodus and how, despite widespread worship of Egyptian mother-goddesses, Moses promoted Judaism as a patriarchal religion. Paley voiced a sacrifical goat in the film, while her father (who died before the picture premiered) voiced God. 

Parallel Lines
On 15 February 2021, pop singer Gala (best known for her 1997 hit single 'Freed From Desire') released an music video, 'Parallel Lines', for which Paley provided the animation. 

Paley was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006.

Other activities
She teaches at Parsons School of Design in Manhattan.

Nina's Adventures

Series and books by Nina Paley in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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