I was lucky enough to catch a word with Mrs. Vera (David Faulk), who is an amazing San Francisco artist and personality. David and Michael Johnstone (who created the photos above) are the fearless leaders of the Verasphere (pictured below). Here's the Verasphere traipsing down the runway for a show at the DeYoung museum. Each year for Pride, they splash San Francisco with enough color to make a rainbow blush. Read the full interview with Mrs. Vera after the photo.
All photos: Michael Johnstone
Dear Mrs. Vera, I hear you're a fan of the comics. Can you give me a few of your favorites?
It's been a long time since I read EVERYTHING...the completist/collector(former) in me misses that era of possible comprehensiveness, a ship that has long since sailed. I always was drawn to writers who could build long story lines and develop sub plots, and growing up for me that was Steve Englehart, who could really hit the head on stories that were pure fantasy but socially relevant and just soapy enough that they seemed ABOUT to become adult (gosh JUST LIKE ME!). At 13 that was Avengers, Dr. Strange, he took a whack at most of Marvel's and a bunch of DC's titles. I could not get enough, for years, but now relentless continuity just exhausts me, and I can't afford it anyway. But I still love the mythic qualities of superheroes and power struggles. Mrs. Vera is all about the fighting of crime and the leaping over of tall things, mostly grass, but still...
There are SO MANY great books out today, I'm astounded, having waded through decades of material half-heartedly in search of something to get excited by. I think the medium, it's writers in particular, have really come into unassailable artistic legitimacy, elevating the field higher than I'd imagined possible, and the art has evolved so much since my early days. It is all so much more sophisticated. I'm very writer-driven at this point still. I think Jonathan Hickman does amazing, and varied work really utilizing the medium. East of West, Manhattan Projects. His Fantastic Four was delightful, and his Avengers work is fascinatingly worked-out and intricate. Saga is amazing, and funny as hell. I like to use humor in my work, and I like it in the work of others as well. I thought Young Avengers was a hoot, and The Wicked and Divine is especially fun, because I'm a million years old now and the dialog is so, well, satisfyingly hip and young and clever. Joss Whedon's writing for same reason. Velvet and Lazarus and Hawkeye are like perfect screenplays. I've loved everything the Luna Brothers have done (Alex and Ada, Girls(so messed up!), The Sword. The list is HUGE, it's a renaissance really. Morning Glories, Silver Surfer (Michael Allred is such a stylish blend of down-to-earth and out-of-this-world), She hulk is a hoot, Rachel Rising a disturbing hoot. Grant Morrison always delivers. Darwyn Cooke too. Astro City. I like sprawling but contained universes. I could go on and on, so instead I'll mention two things I used to love, but found I eventually couldn't look at one more panel of! I LIVED for Cerebus, for years, but came to hate the book for reasons I still can't formulate to my satisfaction. It was like a descent into poor mental health that I just stood by and watched (yikes!). I also cannot read another X-men story. PLEASE don't ask me too. It's like watching ghosts playing tiddly-winks for ghost grapes. I'd buy THAT, of course. Zot was a masterpiece too. Wuv me some Wuvable Oaf. Oh lordy, the beat goes on....bottom line, comics have never been smarter.
What's your new studio like, and what can you do there that you couldn't do before?
San Francisco, I still love it and feel REALLY lucky to be here, but it's been rough making it work the past few years. I lost my Studio space- full of paintings- and had to move ALL of my Mrs. Vera kibble and kaboodle out of my apartment, and then lost my apartment. Visual Aid closed, the closest thing I'll probably ever get to gallery-esque representation, a huge loss to myself, and more importantly, the city. Anyway, It's all in a shipping container one can drive right up to now, but it has been three years of down-down-down-down-down-down-sizing and, well, depressing unproductivity. But I found a great place, and my apartment shares a wall with my partner-in-crime Michael's flat, in an amazing building in Hayes Valley. It's like a very poorly written sit com, and I have a feeling our dogs will get a spin-off series if anyone happened to tune in. Michael and I have been together 22 years, collaborating on the photos and costume shenanigans, but never actually lived in the same building until now. It's all TOO perfect, and I'm happier than I've been in years. I hasten to point out that this is NOT the San Francisco 2013-2015 Real Estate experience of ANYONE else I know, and I have a positive dread of being some poster child rainbow story of the moment because of my uncommon good fortune. At the moment I need to archive, I need to paint again, Mrs. Vera needs new outfits, I need to get GOING again. All of which can be achieved in my new space!
I think of Mrs. Vera as a summertime creature. What is wintertime like for Mrs. Vera?
I came to THIS planet to escape the summer of my home planet, which is 80,000 years long, but it looks like your beautiful Ice Age is Kaput. I only look like a 'Summer' because of the horrible accident I had as a child in the spray-tan factory, and also maybe because I lack the ability to sweat, and bees love me, and one of my feet is shaped just like a cinderblock-sized Ice Cream Sandwich. Go ahead, try and guess which foot! I'll never tell, a Lady needs her secrets after all.The best thing about winter, since you ask, is that you can make jello molds outdoors without running up your electric bill, and you can also pretend it's going to rain, probably, and people around here don't look at you as if your crazy. Okay, now I'm just projecting. Most people avoid making any kind of eye contact with me at all, during the winter, but that's just because they are jealous of my AMAZING silver diaper! Want me to make you one for the Pride Parade this year?
And Thanks, ever so much, for noticing I'm alive! It confirms my Doctor's theory that I am, so that's ONE less thing for me to worry about. I'm crossing it OFF the list!
Thank you thank you thank you for a lively lovely interview Mrs. Vera!