EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Bob the Angry Flower reflects on 20 years

It’s no secret: To know Bob the Angry Flower is to know his creator, cartoonist Stephen Notley – son of the late Grant Notley, brother of Rachel Notley, and longtime Edmonton native since relocated to Seattle, where he writes and designs video games.

For 20 years now, in the back of whatever the local weekly newspaper was called (Vue, at the moment) – and raise your hand if you still turn the back of the paper first to read the comics – this ambulatory anthropomorphic plant has entertained his fans with highly intelligent, but often extremely silly, adventures steeped in dense metaphor and highbrow science, all of which curiously mirrors the life and thoughts of Bob’s creator, give or take a few giant robots and supervillains. Some episodes are deeply personal. Others tackle politics, religion, the meaning of life, human stupidity. Generally speaking, Bob gets angry.

In honour of his latest collection, How to Operate a Chair (click to buy), GigCity has an EXCLUSIVE interview with the flower behind the man behind the cartoon about the flower (and so forth). It is, as far he knows, the first interview ever conducted with an ambulatory anthropomorphic flower. Let’s hope it’s not the last.

Q: How has your life changed since being transplanted to Seattle?

A: Just more drunk. It’s the same, just without the ability to vote, and access to more pure forms of American insanity.

Q: Have you ever thought about reproducing?

A: No, never, though I am exploring some genetic options. None of them have borne fruit.

Q: Who’s the worst villain you’ve ever faced?

A: Rothgar is certainly the most evil figure I’ve ever encountered. He really is quite a horse’s ass.

Q: Should we be reminded of any real life public figure?

A: Not really. He’s just a king that didn’t like that I was showing him up as a chump.

Q: What makes you the angriest?

A: For quite some time, complex number systems were really getting under my craw, but Roger Penrose and I have come to an agreement on that, so I am actually now completely devoted to complex numbers. Politics used to bother me, but living in America as I do, I’ve become soft and flaccid just like all other Americans, so I can’t be bothered to care.

Q: What’s your favourite form of transportation?

A: Either my space car or my Mechagodzilla.

Q: How do you get the money to build all this stuff?

A: I don’t use money, I just threaten people.

Q: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned in 20 years?

A: That’s a funny question. I don’t know. If anything, I get stupider.

Q: And less angry?

A: Well, it’s open to the circumstances. Every week brings another enormous challenge to the life of an ambulatory anthropomorphic flower, and one just has to respond as one sees fit.

Q: What’s the difference between kids today and when you were a … um, sprout?

A: There’s a higher grade of video games available. People use apostrophes much worse than they did, though they were already pretty terrible. Kids today have all these wacky handheld telephones. I don’t seem to recall that as seedling.


Q: What’s better: Pessimist or optimist?

A: I prefer optimism. I’d rather the world be better than worse. There’s no point in getting angry if you don’t think there’s anything that can be done.

Q: With the shrinking print media environment, do you think cartoon characters like yourself are becoming an endangered species?

A: Luckily, there are still a few forms of media that include pulping trees and splattering them with ink, some of which takes the form of cartoons. Since those tend to be the ones that actually pay, there’s some survival to be had, though it’s getting awful thin out there. Electro-tooning on your handaphone seems to be the smart play these days.