Broad City's Abbi Jacobson on Her New Illustrated Book and Trump's Sniffing Problem
Have you ever wondered what Oprah carries in her bag? How about Martha Stewart? So has Abbi Jacobson. Like her Broad City character, the comedian and co-creator of the hit Comedy Central show is an illustrator (she holds a degree in fine arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art and has published not one, but two adult coloring books). Her latest visual quest, Carry This Book ($16; amazon.com), out today, imagines the personal possessions of real people and fictional characters. "I feel like this is my own little fan-fiction," she recently told InStyle by phone. Here, she talks more about the new release, what she'd never leave home without, and the one thing Kanye West would carry.
In the book's introduction, you write that you've always been intrigued by what people carry. What sparked your initial interest?
In middle school, we had to read this book, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien ($9; amazon.com). I don't remember the majority of it, but the thing that really stood out to me was the way he told the story—through what these Vietnam vets carried with them. I thought it was an amazing way to talk about characters and explain who they are through their things. It's so revealing.
How did you go about selecting the people you included? I'm picturing a deep Internet dive à la Broad City.
Kind of! I had someone helping me in the beginning stages, because I was writing the new season of Broad City at the time. Basically, I made a spreadsheet of people I was really interested in, people I admired, and people I thought were bad guys—because sometimes, people who have done bad things are easier to make fun of. The Bernie Madoff one was really fun. I wanted to do Gilda Radner and Gloria Steinem too, but there wasn't really anything to poke fun at. I hope Gloria isn't insulted if she reads this—it was only out of love! I wanted a blend of fictional characters, historical people, political figures ... all different walks of life. I narrowed it down based on what I found out about people. But I would probably add a lot to [Donald] Trump's [illustration] now, in particular.
What would you add?
Afrin, because he clearly has a problem with sniffing, Tic Tacs based on his teeth, and a grabber—so he can reach a can on a high shelf. He seems like he would want one of those. His [spread] could have been a whole book.
Is there something that would drive you crazy if you left home without it?
Whenever I leave without headphones or a pen, I'm very mad at myself. It's boring, but it's true.
Where do you typically like to draw?
I have an office in my apartment. The drawings are a lot bigger than in the book, so it required a pretty big desk.
What are your favorite spreads in the book?
I really loved Oprah's. It was one of the first ones I did and one of the most condensed. Another one of my favorites is Kanye's, because I feel like that's pretty true—he could just carry a flash drive. That makes a lot of sense to me.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.