For years, former The Simpsons cartoonist Liz Climo has been creating adorable animal comics. Filled with positivity, her cute cast of characters focuses on self-love, perseverance, and finding joy in life’s ups and downs. Coming off the heels of You're Mom and You're Dad, her newly released third picture book for adults takes a look at the care we need to show ourselves.
I'm So Happy You're Here, published by Flatiron Books, gives us the pep talk we need when we might be feeling down. Across nearly 100 pages, Climo's delightful animal comics act as our own personal cheerleaders. Whether it's saying a positive phrase or sharing a reminder that it's ok to feel down, Climo's characters pull through in our time of need.
We had a chance to ask Climo about the impetus behind her new book and how it builds on her previous work. Climo also shares why she feels that it's important to put compassion into her work and how words of affirmation have been important for her personally. Read on for My Modern Met's exclusive interview and pick up your copy of I'm So Happy You're Here, which is available online and in all major bookstores.
How do you feel I'm So Happy You’re Here builds on your previous work?
In my previous work, I feel like I focused a lot on care for others—friends, family, etc. The Rory the Dinosaur series, as well as You’re Mom, You’re Dad, and You’re Loved, is about parenting or taking on a parental role, while my comic compilations are largely about love in friendship. With this book, I wanted to really focus on how we care for ourselves. I think we tend to neglect our own self-worth, and it’s really important that we direct the love we give to others back onto ourselves sometimes.
Why do you feel that it's important, as an artist, to put positive content into the world?
I certainly don’t think everyone needs to be making positive content and don’t agree with forced positivity either (if you’re feeling bad, sometimes you just need to sit in that feeling for a bit). I try to put compassion into my work in a way that makes people feel good, and hopefully do it in a way that isn’t too outwardly sentimental. I think it’s something I’m good at, and I’ve decided to keep doing that as long as it feels natural to me. Life can be so hard, and the goal of my work is to bring people a bit of joy.
Why do you think that your animal characters resonate, even with adults?
Animals are complex in their own way, but really pure in their motivations. Our relationships with our pets, for instance—I don’t hold a grudge against my dog when he poops on the rug, or feel hurt when he doesn’t greet me at the door. The relationship is deep and meaningful but completely uncomplicated. I think these animal characters are able to strip down pretty complex emotions and get to the heart of the issue in a way that’s very relatable.
What do you hope that people take away from the book?
I want people to pick up this book whenever it’s needed. It’s actually even helped me—there have been times since I wrote the book where I’m feeling a bit sad, and then I remember certain parts of the story and I feel a little better! It’s really hard for a lot of us to allow ourselves to feel loved, and to feel joy. I want this book to be a reminder that these are normal feelings, and that we are all worthy of love and happiness.
How are words of affirmation important to you, as an artist?
As an artist, I think words of affirmation allow me to keep doing my work, and to not worry so much about it not being good enough. As an anxious person, I try to practice positive self-talk just to make moving through the world feel a bit less daunting. Instead of “don’t do this” or “why did you do that” I try hard to speak kindly to myself, as if I were talking to somebody I love. This book is here to speak kindly to you when you are struggling to do it for yourself.
How do you feel that your art has grown or changed since your last publication?
I am trying to worry less about mistakes I’ve made and concentrate more on how I can learn and grow. I don’t think I could have written this book before because I don’t think I was in a place where I could speak as kindly to myself. At the time, it was much easier for me to talk about loving friends, or family, or my child, because that just felt so natural to me. But ultimately, your relationship with yourself is really important, and also needs attention. I feel like I’m finally comfortable enough to address that.