Cartoonist Josephine M.K. Edwards turns the bad and the ugly in to something meaningful

Brighton-born and London-based cartoonist Josephine M.K. Edwards has a portfolio that bursts with talent. As macabre as it is idiosyncratic, a peek into Josephine’s world invites a dizzying mix of humour and gothic surrealism. “My journey into illustration began as a teenager on Tumblr, where I wrote autobiographical comics about the most embarrassing and humiliating aspects of my life as a form of exorcism,” she tells It’s Nice That. “I was uploading these for free online and had my first comic Emmy published by Space Face Books when I was 18.” It’s an impressively young age to have a comic published, but Josephine’s uncanny knack for capturing a reader’s attention is undeniable. Emmy, for example, was about “teenage monster girls get high by ‘broomsticking’, rubbing mushrooms and stuff onto the handle of a broom and climbing on them naked,” she tells us.
“Female abjection has always been the driving force behind my stories and illustrations and I greatly enjoy exposing private inner worlds,” she adds. “I wanted to post and express these hidden secret humiliations in order to connect with other girls who felt fucked up and embarrassed and wrong and like they were naive and bad people for trying to figure it out.” Whilst Josephine’s strength of message is apparent in the way she describes these comics, reflective humour isn’t lost on her: “I also really wanted attention from strangers online and posting this stuff was a great way to do it, I’m just lucky it transmuted into something much more meaningful for me.”
As for the elements of her aesthetic which Josephine is known for her, she points to three keywords: “inky, visceral, and lumpy”. Often, this is because her process of working is unplanned and straight from the pen. “I see the process as having a fly buzzing around my head that I need to splat onto a piece of paper,” she explains. “I like my pages to be busy, specifically in my recent comic Will-O’-The-Wisp.” In this, Josephine’s latest release with Breakdown Press, we see pages filled with the kind of details others may usually omit or forget altogether: Stella Artois cans, CD racks, steering wheel game controllers, air fresheners, cigarettes and exotic rodents decorate every crevice. “These objects make me feel particularly depressed, which I love putting into my art,” Josephine notes.