The Austrian comics artist and illustrator Ulli Lust has been a member of the Berliner alternative art scene since the late 1990s, and nowadays ranks as one of its leading representatives. She is co-founder of the Monogatari collective and of the online comics portal electrocomics.com. Lust is best-known for her works in comics journalism and for her award-winning autobiographical graphic novel 'Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life' (2009), about an adventurous roadtrip she made to Italy as a punk teenager.

Early life
She was born as Ulli Schneider in Vienna in 1967 into a countryside family. She grew up as an avid doodler, and already went to study at a school for textile design at age fifteen. As a teenager she was part of Vienna's punk scene, and her experiences would form the basis for her breakthrough graphic novel later on. Having the responsibility for a son since age 18, she began doing illustrations for children's books to make a living. These included 'Marco und der Drache' (1993) and 'Fee Fledermaus' (1994) by Käthe Recheis & Friedl Hofbauer and 'Ein Stück Himmelblau' (1995) by Thomas Declaude. By 1995 she was awarded the Unicef-Award for her illustration work.


Wildbahn ("spring poem", 2000)

Berlin
Since she had an interest in visual storytelling, she was unable to study art in Vienna, as the local art schools had disdain for narrative art. She therefore headed for Berlin in the mid 1990s to further explore her possibilities. During this period she published her first work, adopting her mother's name and signing with Ulli Lust instead of Schneider. She self-published her annual series of "spring poems", which generally mixed eroticism with mythological ancient fertility rites. She managed to maintain this tradition from 1998 until 2005. Her final installment, with the revealing title 'Air Pussy - A Pubic Hairrasing Ritual for Spring to Come' (2005), was also published in Belgium by L'Employé du Moi in 2009. Lust's main influences have been artists from the international alternative scene, such as Charles Burns, Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman, Alison Bechdel, Vanessa Davis, Gabrielle Bell, Gary Panter, Chester Brown and Joe Matt.

Monogatari (1999-2005)
Lust enrolled at the Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin, where she studied Graphic Design from 1999 to 2004. Early on, she teamed up with fellow students Jens Harder, Tim Dinter, Kathi Käppel, Mawil and Kai Pfeiffer to form Monogatari, a collective aiming to discover new narrative forms in words and pictures. Lust and Pfeiffer initiated the group's efforts in making journalistic comics reports, inspired by Joe Sacco. Lust captured her everyday observations of Berlin life in drawings and short comic stories, which were published as monthly columns in the city magazine Scheinschlag. Using the school's printing machines, Monogatari released several collective and individual small press works during its existence. 'Alltagsspionnage' (2001) was the first collection of the group's journalistic comics, while 'Terrarium - Menschen in Shoppingcentern' (2002) contained Lust's observations in a shopping center. The artist took great care in doing proper journalistic research, like for her pieces about the decaying East-German prefabricated housing estate Halle-Neustadt and a long-running Berliner circus.


'Wer bleibt - eine Comicreportage aus Halle-Neustadt'

Electrocomics (2005-)
The Monogatari group disbanded in 2005, and Lust embarked upon her next venture, the online publishing label Electrocomics. Founded by Lust in June 2005, the portal sells comics by an increasing amount of international artists as e-books. The effort won the Special Jury Prize from the ICOM Independent Comic Awards in 2006. Lust herself continued to work on comics reports, for instance about the Spreuer Bridge in Luzern, which was published in the German edition of Le Monde Diplomatique in June 2005. A collection called 'Fashionvictims, Trendverächter - Bildkolumnen und Minireportagen aus Berlin' (2008) was published by the independent publishing house Avant-Verlag. From 2008 onwards, her work furthermore expanded to international comics publications, including the French-German anthology 'Pomme d'Amour' (2008), and the indie magazines Strapazin from Zürich and Spring from Hamburg.


Weiter, los! (everyday observations from Berlin life, in Spring #7, 2010)

'Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life'
With her education finished in 2004, Ulli Lust was in search of a new project. Her graduation project earned her a degree, but it failed to attract a publisher. Already in her mid thirties, she furthermore noticed her drawing style wasn't applicable for many commercial illustration assignments. She felt the desire to tell a longer story, and found inspiration in her own rebellious teenage years, when she hung around in the Vienna punk and squatter's movement. At age seventeen, she undertook a summer trip to Italy with a more lawless and impulsive friend, called "Edi" in the comic.

It took Lust five years to complete 'Heute ist der letzte Tag vom Rest deines Lebens', starting over after the first 80 pages, while publishing the first installments on Electrocomics.com. What starts of as an adventurous road trip, turns into a powerful coming-of-age story and a feminist statement. With daring honesty, Lust tells her story of hitchhiking, living the streets, sexual offence, betrayal and confrontations with the Sicilian maffia through raw and direct black-and-white artwork, supported by green tones. She uses symbolic visualizations for both her state of mind and the Italian macho culture and temperament (with hands coming out of the men's eyes, grabbing the girls' breasts and bottoms). This is also reflected in the lettering. The Italian texts appear as nonsensical scribbles at first, and then as barely readable scribbles when the protagonists learn to understand the language. The author's background in comics journalism is clearly evident. Her story is not romanticized, nor are her own actions and decisions downplayed. Lust also revisited Rome, Naples and Palermo for research and documentation.

The final book was a hefty volume of 450 pages, published by Avant-Verlag in 2009. The publisher's initial reluctance was quickly taken away when German Sunday papers ran extensive articles about the work, which caused quite a buzz at the Frankfurt Book Fair. It won the Max & Moritz Public Award at the Erlanger Comic-Salon in 2010, and was released in French as 'Trop n'est pas assez' by Çà et là that same year. In France, the work was awarded with the Revelation Award at the Angoulême International Comics Festival 2011. Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Italian, Finnish, American, Brazilian, Dutch and Croatian editions came in the following years. The English translation by Kim Thompson under the title 'Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life' (Fantagraphics, 2013) earned Lust the 2013 Ignatz Award for best graphic novel, the LA Times Book Award for Graphic Novels and a 2014 Eisner Award nomination for best reality-based work.


Flughunde

Other graphic novels
Ulli Lust's next graphic novel project was an adaptation of Marcel Beyer's 1995 novel 'Flughunde' ('The Karnau Tapes'), published by Suhrkamp Verlag in 2013. It brings a fictionalized account of the end of World War II, through the eyes of both a Nazi sound technology scientist and Helga Goebbels, the daughter of Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels. The English edition appeared under the title 'Voices in the Dark' in the collection New York Review Comics in 2017.

Interested in telling stories from a female perspective, she has regularly returned to autobiography. In her contribution to Dane LaChuisa's anthology 'Dadsville' (2013), she chronicled a teenage one-night fling, which resulted in pregnancy and her giving birth to her son at age 18. An excerpt of her next graphic novel about experiences in an ill-fated ménage à trois first appeared in the American anthology 'The Big Feminist But' (2013). The resulting graphic novel 'Wie ich versuchte, ein guter Mensch zu sein' (2017) was published in German by Suhrkamp Verlag in 2017 and in French by Çà et là as 'Alors que j'essasyais d'etre quelqu'un de bien' in that same year. The book centers around sexual obsession, gender conflict and self-liberation through the eyes of an anarchist artist in 1990s Vienna. Fantagraphics released the English edition 'How I Tried to Be a Good Person' in 2019.


'Wie ich versuchte, ein guter Mensch zu sein' (2017)

Further activities
Throughout her active career, Ulli Lust has given workshops and lectures as a way to earn extra money. Together with Kai Pfeiffer, she is nowadays an illustration and comics teacher at the University of Hannover. In 2018 Lust and Pfeiffer were asked by TV station Arte to make a 20-minute documentary for the network's 'Square' series. The series' concept is to give artists not related to the movie industry carte blanche for a film project. Lust and Pfeiffer made a documentary about the Polish Białowieża Forest, the last remaining primeval forest on the European Plain. Lust has remained active in comics journalism as well. Still in 2018, she was invited to give her vision of the Dutch city Haarlem as part of the international 'Citybooks' project. This resulted in 'Lucky City', a series of drawings about the Dutch and their relationship with the water. The artwork was first presented during the 2018 Haarlem Comics Festival.

Ulli Lust was awarded the Max & Moritz Prize in the category "Best Female German comics artist" in 2014.


From: Lucky City

www.ullilust.de

www.electrocomics.com

Series and books by Ulli Lust in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

X

If you want to help us continue and improve our ever- expanding database, we would appreciate your donation through Paypal.