Maria Bamford and Scott Marvel Cassidy Let Their Dogs Do the Talking

The stand-up comic and the artist collaborate on a dog-centric love story
Maria Bamford and Scott Marvel Cassidy Let Their Dogs Do the Talking

In her memoir Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult, comedian Maria Bamford vows she’ll never write another book. When I call her out on that promise since she and her husband, artist Scott Marvel Cassidy, have a new graphic novel, Hogbook and Lazer Eyes, coming out on June 4th, Bamford says she actually still kept her word since the “new” one was finished first. 

“We had to wait to put this out,” Bamford tells me, explaining that her memoir contract stipulated she couldn’t publish other books six months before or after Cult

All these months later, Hogbook and Lazer Eyes, a Bamford/Cassidy collaboration that describes their courtship through the eyes of their dogs, is finally ready for launch — a comic-book super team-up I recently spoke to both Bamford and Cassidy about. 


Let’s start with the most important question: What is a Hogbook? And what the heck are Lazer Eyes?

Bamford: I had as my (online dating) screen name for many years “Funny Thoughtful.” That cast too wide a net because everyone is “funny” and “thoughtful.” And so I changed it to “Hogbook” just because I like those two words together. I like how they sound, and only one guy responded. And it was this guy. 

Cassidy: You know why? On OkCupid, you answer like 200 questions, and I was matching with people 40 percent, 60 percent. But all of a sudden, this one came up a 98 percent match. I was like, What? Hogbook? Who is Hogbook?

Bamford: I did have a joke for a while. I can’t remember what the joke was, but the end was, “I just think it’d be great to have a book about hogs called Hogbook.” And I thought anybody who would have the same sense of humor wouldn’t question that (and) would be a good match. I did have one person respond saying, “Oh, are you a pilot?” Because I guess pilots have something in the cockpit called the hog book. And I was like “No, I’m not a pilot. Do you wanna go on a date?” And they were like, “No.”

Cassidy: Lazer Eyes, the photo of myself in the profile was one of those red-eye photos. And I was pretty cynical about even going on OkCupid. So like, “Lazer Eyes, I don’t care.” And she was the first one I met.

The book begins with one of your dogs saying, “This is our story.” How did they land the job as narrators? 

Cassidy: It was initially their idea. They have more of an ego than I do. As you can see, the book says by Maria Bamford and Scott Marvel Cassidy, but we had to do that because you can’t give Social Security numbers to dogs. That was the only way we get paid.

Bamford: But it’s by the dogs.

Cassidy: I never had a dog before meeting Maria. And as you can see in the book, Bert (Maria’s pug) kind of got us together, and we always had an ongoing narrative about the dogs and what they were thinking. We had voices for them. So it was an interesting way to keep their memory alive and have it in an actual object. 

At some point in the book, the dogs completely take over the story. You two become side characters after you get together. 

Bamford: Yes, as we should be. 

Can dogs say things you wouldn’t be comfortable saying?

Cassidy: A lot of it is ridiculous, but coming from the dog’s point-of-view, it makes more sense. 

Bamford: They do seem wiser than we are. They’re more calm and mellow on a regular basis and know how to live life. They have the supernatural power of mindfulness, like what everyone’s trying to achieve in Los Angeles but not succeeding. They’re living in the moment.

Cassidy: They’re agents of chaos.

Scott, is this your first graphic novel?

Cassidy: No, in the past I used to do Xerox, sort of punk magazines/comic books. I published a few myself over the years here and there. I’m primarily an artist, a painter, but I still got my start doing comic books. 

Bamford: One of his comic books, he brought to our fourth date. And it was so beautiful. Autobiographical.

Cassidy: The Ephebic Hobbledehoys. My dad wasn’t a good guy, but he used to call us the Ephebic Hobbledehoys, which is just “little rotten boys.” My dad was very pretentious and liked to use big words, so he would call us that. And it’s kind of creepy if you look it up. It’s really weird.

Hogbook and Lazer Eyes reminded me of Maria’s stand-up in its willingness to discuss things like death and mental health and the fragility of relationships. Is there a reason you chose a graphic novel to tell this story? 

Bamford: Scott was already making drawings with the dogs. And I always need merch to sell at the shows. And so, he came up with the idea to do a comic book, and we self-published the original. 

It was a way to work together because both of us are pretty solitary workers. He works on his own. I work on my own. There’s a reason I got into stand-up. It’s because I’m terrified of input. But this is perfect. He does the drawings, and then we get together and flesh it out. 

Cassidy: Like the story where Bert goes through a trash bag of chocolate cupcakes and passes out. That was just a story that actually happened. I just do the thumbnails like, “Oh, this would be funny. And maybe he goes into some psychedelic realm.” It just naturally happens. 

Bamford: He’ll ask me, “Hey, you want to put words to this?” And yeah, that’s perfect for me. 

It can be difficult to work with a spouse. Was this a pretty smooth process?

Bamford: I encouraged Scott to do stand-up because he had a fear of speaking. I’m like, “Nobody’s paying attention when you do stand-up, nobody cares. You could do three minutes, read from the phone book, you’ll be fine.” So then he does it.

Cassidy: I went to Flappers in Burbank. I get up, and no one was laughing because everyone is looking at their phone. The only person who did laugh was the bartender. I was like, “Oh, that’s great. I just did three minutes and the only person who laughed was the bartender and he’s probably heard every joke a million times.” I can’t wait to tell Maria. So I got home, I said, “Maria, I just did stand-up!” 

And she’s like, “Oh, great.”

Bamford: All of a sudden, I get defensive and go, “But this is mine!” It’s just embarrassing because I said (insert enthusiastic Maria Bamford voice), “Of course!” And then I’m like (insert aggrieved Maria Bamford voice), “Now you did it. I bet you’re good.”

Cassidy: It’s like if I was bouncing a basketball down Wilshire, and LeBron James drove by and went, “What the fuck?”

Bamford: All the feelings come up around creative stuff for sure.

The great thing about dogs is the ego doesn't get involved. Are the dogs thinking about future projects?

Cassidy: Yeah, they’re already working on it. I’m surprised at the reaction people are giving the book because it was, for us, a way to document our dogs. So it’s been nice that people are enjoying it.

Bamford: We’re going to hand them out to people at the dog park. Only to the deserving, though.


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