We had the good fortune of connecting with Mary Sette and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mary, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
When I was completing my MFA, I read this quote on writing from Heather Havrilesky’s Ask Polly articles. When working on deeply emotional personal work, she said, “you didn’t have to always moon someone.” Sometimes you could “moon them with leather pants on.” Meaning, they get a real good butt outline, but you’re not giving it all away. You could show off the emotional core of your experience but it didn’t need to be a diary entry. At the time, I kind of rejected this idea. I was twenty-two years old and really wanted to moon someone with my deeply personal work. Now, I’m twenty-seven and I’ve lived in sweatpants for the last 9 months. Don’t try to keep up with the metaphor. I don’t know where it’s going either. But I think about Heather’s quote almost every time I draw a cartoon or write anything for animation. It’s about taking the raw scary things inside of you and shaping them into something you want to stare at forever. Unless you love staring at naked butts forever. Then I guess you’re good.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a comedy writer and cartoonist who loves jokes and blood (both from unsolved murders and unseen periods.) I’ve been working for over a year now on an animation series called Hot Toddy. It’s a dark freaky comedy about dysfunctional female friendship that takes everything I loved about old school noir films (The Big Sleep! The Long Goodbye! The Maltese Falcon!) and twists it into a pink punk teenage story. Like, imagine if Humphrey Bogart wore Limited Too tops? Imagine if we all still shopped at Limited Too! After the murder of her ex-best friend’s new BFF, a scrappy young reporter is forced to partner with her ex-gal pal to solve the crime. Darlene is the hardboiled private eye. Suzie is the enigmatic femme fatale. The only crime they have to solve is THE MURDER OF THEIR FRIENDSHIP…and the actual murder of a human girl in the first act. It’s Heathers meets Nancy Drew but if she made dick jokes. Or really, vagina jokes. Because there are zero men in the film! I’ve been developing Hot Toddy with animator extraordinaire, Anna Cangellaris for all of 2020. Anna is an AMAZING Calarts Experimental grad, a wonderful person, and my co-creator/collaborator on the project. Her funky style and humor have brought a whole new sexy weird life into this bonkers project. We directed this huge slow-motion pool party sequence based on the big opening high school scene in Donnie Darko, a BADASS kung fu FIGHT SCENE based off of the Matrix, and a wonderfully dramatic friendship breakup scene based on my real life. This has been the most amazing experience even during the most traumatic and chaotic year. We crowdfunded a ton of money last October and since then have been pooling money from all the people I could find in the world to invest in the project. It’s VERY hard! But I love the project so much. At the beginning of 2020, I told myself to go big, or go home. And now we’re just a few weeks away from locking the animation, and we went fucking BIG. And I’m NEVER GOING HOME, MOM!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
In the morning, wake up super early. Go to any dog park and stare at dogs. The trick is to eat a banana right before you go. The dogs smell the food on your hands and FLOCK to you. Then grab a large coffee from a non-Starbucks coffee shop like 1802 Roasters in Cypress Park or Kafn in Glendale. Go to every bookstore you can. Skylight Books and Vrooman’s in Pasadena are my favorite places to spend too much money. Compliment a stranger on their hair. Everyone’s so insecure these days. Whenever anyone says anything remotely nice to me, I remember how much I like humanity, even though they don’t always like me back. Go for a walk at a local park. We go to Glassell Park and drink smoothies and pretend like life is totally normal when it’s totally not. Our dog chases us and then vomits. It’s the best. Grab takeout from a greasy spoon like Penny’s Burgers on the east side and eat French fries in your car while you watch the sunset over the freeway. Eat as much food as humanly possible. Cry about the past, present, and future. Even if you’re not sad, crying is usually what you should do. And then go get some ice cream. Magpie’s, Salt and Straw, and Ginger’s are our go-to favorites. But my favorite thing about Los Angeles is there are a million places we haven’t cried or eaten at yet. That’s what gives me hope.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My partner for the last eight years, Cj Ballesteros, has kept me relatively sane. He’s a musician and audio engineer so he understands the ups and downs of being a creative. He also bakes. So he’s good company and I can stress eat. And my sister, Angela, has had to deal with a lot of crazy late-night phone calls while pregnant during a pandemic. Also, my therapist. Amber, I SHOULD PAY YOU MORE (but I can’t so don’t ask me!!!!)