|Vanesa Littlecrow Wojtanowicz
Websites: VAS Littlecrow, Vanesa Littlecrow's Art Resume, Vanesa Littlecrow's Blog, Catnose Comics, Rasputin Catamite, Somewhere in Fargo, Confessions of an All-Purpose Model
Bio: Early years
At a young age, Vanesa was diagnosed with autism due to difficulty talking and expressing emotions. Despite this fact, she was already drawing at age one. Although it was recommended that Vanesa be interned in a special institution for mentally ill children, her mother was against the idea and did not. Believing that Vanesa had the potential to achieve great things with her innate talent, she became instrumental in the development of her daughter's artistic skills. Her art received an honorable mention in the Puerto Rican newspaper The San Juan Star for some of her Christmas drawings. Vanesa designed a poster for the Barrio Obrero marathon while still in first grade, which led to a short appearance in WKAQ Television. As a fan of TV star and cabaret performer Iris Chacon, the experience of being on television would greatly influence her life.
While still attending school, also found time take dance lessons in ballet, tap dance, jazz, Polynesian, flamenco, and traditional Puerto Rican folk dance.
Vanesa participated in juvenile modeling, including a school beauty pageant where she won first place in her age category at the encouragement of her grandmother and father. Her mother, a feminist and an attorney, disapproved of her daughter's involvement in the modeling and dance industries. She prevented Vanesa from participating in it, until she left for college at age 17 and returned to the industry on an informal basis, at her fiance's insistence.
In 1985, Vanesa moved to West Valley City in Utah with her mother and younger brother. She became a member of the school's choir and was picked to do a solo from the play Les Misérables. Shortly thereafter her family moved again, this time to Minnesota. There, she auditioned for her high school's rendition of Grease as Frenchie. When she was given an understudy role that was later taken from her, Vanesa vowed to write her own play. She also helped pen several religious skits. She also participated in several performance art and poetry reading events, including North Dakota's first poetry slam to be broadcast on the Internet.
Also a writer of poetry, the poems that she has written have opened the way for her participation in events such as: "Happenings," "In A Woman's Voice," "Fargo Poetry Grand Slam 1999" and others. Her verses have appeared in magazines such as: Red Weather, Sueños y Pensamientos, The Guild Moorhead State University Science Fiction and Fantasy Club's Newsletter. She became editor for the latter publication. Vanesa, along with her first husband, published the monthly 'zine The Electric Walleye in Moorhead, Minnesota during her college years. It was during this time-period she also worked as a fine arts model and the head photo lab monitor at the Moorhead State University art department.
At age nine, Vanesa began work on her first novel in what would later become the Soup Wars Project. "The Soup Wars Project" eventually spawned a spin-off science fiction graphic novels, including, "Vampyres!" (which was resurrected over a decade later, toned down and renamed "Polska, Sucka!",) and several partially published novels, "The Unfortunate Marriage of Hernan and Lina," "The Butterfly Armaggedon," "Renegade Bio-Construct Kyernan," "And When the Morning Comes at Last," and "Also the Gods Fear Time." By age thirteen, she penned her first underground comic book, "Children of the Motavian Moon" which spawned a second enterprise known as The Bombardeering Bunnies from Biloxi. Other comics strips by Vanesa include, "Mini-Misfits," and "Thrift Revolution." "A Jakie Cross Comix" was created by Vanesa under the pseudonym of Jakie Cross. In addition to her print comics, Vanesa started her own animation studio, "Illtoons" in tenth and informally started her business, Zitro No Loca Arts (which was renamed ZNLArts when it became official) at age fifteen.
While she became notorious in her school for her madcap parody song writing efforts, peddling political satire leaflets to other students, making incredibly offensive art, her satirical underground comic book series, The Bombardeering Bunnies from Biloxi (a.k.a. Horror Hares.) The hand-sewn "Horror Hares" booklets viciously attacked everything from current events, celebrities and political figures with the help of highly inbred mutant rabbits from the bayou with a taste of human flesh. The "Horror Hares" spawned the "Farwest Creatures," and "Slippy Homely," an absurdist short story serial published by the Moorhead State University's Science Fiction and Fantasy Club. Vanesa ended all underground projects at the insistence of her first husband, who firmly believed that her comics were "satanic". Several characters from the "Horror Hares" eventually returned when the "Soup Wars Project."
Sammy and Somewhere in Fargo
Under the pseudonym "El V.C-O.," Vanesa produced her first weekly comic strip, "Sammy." It originally appeared in fuzzface Magazine in 1994, and ran as self-syndicated feature from 1992 though 1996 in seven different publications throughout Minnesota and North Dakota. "Sammy" was inked and co-written by Jake Wotsup. "Sammy" ended when Jake Wotsup and Vanesa became entangled in a fight over the direction of the comic. Vanesa unsuccessfully tried to resurrect the comic as a single-panel comic, entitled "Twisted Images." This series did not capture the spirit of the original "Sammy" comic strip and was promptly discontinued. "Shanty Rats," was a compromise attempt at reviving the comic under the art direction of Jake Wotsup. Displeased by the look of the new series, Vanesa ended "Shanty Rats" after the first installment. In 2006, "Sammy" resurfaced with redesigned characters and renamed "Sexual Rodentia," and later "Somewhere in Fargo." Vanesa's current collaborators are Thien Tran and her unnamed boyfriend.
Nine Lives of Catnose
Vanesa's best-known comic strip is the semi-autobiographical "Nine Lives of Catnose." The main character, Catnose, made her first appearance in "Sammy" in April 1994. The character spawned her own spin-off comic strip, "Nine Lives of Catnose" which was first published by Minnesota State University Moorhead's student newspaper in 1998. A short-lived and X-rated spin-off, "Secret Lives of Catnose" webcomic, was online in 2001. "Nine Lives of Catnose" is still published on a monthly basis at the Lemmecheck model and adult star portal. Catnose is also the mascot of Catnose Comics, the comic book publishing division of VAS Littlecrow. Vanesa Littlecrow still writes "Nine Lives of Catnose," along with her "Confessions of an All-Purpose Model" blog collaborator, Lucinda. Vanesa's apprentice, Stef Davis, took over as lead cartoonist in January 2006.
Despite a rather turbulent marriage, mental illness, and chemical abuse problems, Vanesa graduated "Magna Cum Laude" in the fall of 1996 with a Bachelor's degree in Spanish from Moorhead State University. She moved back to Minneapolis, Minnesota after her home was destroyed in the flood of 1997 in the hope of finding a better life without her husband. Instead, she found a series of dead-end jobs and the complete collapse of her marriage, which ended after divorce papers were granted in December 24, 1997. Disillusioned with her life, she worked as part of a crew of an ill-fated documentary project that ran out of funds shortly after it started. This temporary setback inspired her to travel around North America and the Caribbean. She moved back to Fargo, North Dakota at her ex-husband's urging. There she found her compass in a supportive creative community and her work as an artist's model. With the guidance of photographer Paul L. Meisel, she turned away from her original plan to become a Spanish teacher and instead become a professional model and performer.
Eventually, she married her long-time artistic collaborator, patron and friend, Loki Kaspari. In spite of emotional and spiritual problems that occurred when Vanesa finally came to terms with the fact that she wasn't bisexual, and was never going to become straight, as she had believed for most of her life, the two remain married. Though their relationship has changed drastically over their years, Loki and Vanesa are still close friends, and business partners. Loki is the most active supporter of Vanesa's art and in spite of everything, has been very helpful in helping his wifecome to peace with her sexuality.
In her new venture, she held several titles including "Latinamoves Model of the Year 2000," "Ms Internet World Ethnic Beauty Award 2001," and the "Ms Internet World Tribute Award," in 2002. She was also the founder of "Modamag," a magazine which originally focused on modeling, but now focuses on film reviews. Social phobias and burn-out from her rather grueling schedule took a huge toll on her health. She retired from the field in 2003 and redirected her energies back to more creative endeavors. In that same year, she published the short-lived "The Rice Reader." She eventually returned to modeling in late 2005, while still maintaining her busy career as an artist. Her dancing skills were captured on video in "Siren Song," a short film by James Malec. She also worked as a body double in Denise Kriesel's film, "The Music of Snows." Vanesa has also directed a fundraiser video for her former parish, and is currently working on a video blog for her webcomic, Rasputin Catamite
She finally made good on her high school promise, when she wrote and produced her first one-act play, "Corpus and Animus" in 2000, which debuted at the Homewood Studios. It was also at Homewood Studios, that she and Anne Polasky curated their first art exhibit, Process, that same year. In 2004, she completed her first musical play, "The Purple Slipper Floating Organ Cabaret" and co-founded a burlesque troupe of the same name. Other plays written and produced by Vanesa Littlecrow include "The Upir's Mark Musical Puppet Show of Doom."
Vanesa is also known for her gourmet cooking skills which she gained during her stay in Fargo. Her recipes and thoughts on the culinary arts have been featured in the St. Cloud Times and in Cooking with Central Minnesota's Best on multiple occasions.
Currently, Vanesa is still working on the Soup Wars Project, a series of experimental science-fiction graphic novels along with her second husband, Loki W. Kaspari and other collaborators. Polska, Sucka!, the first comic book from the Soup Wars Project, was released in April 2005. Additionally, she runs the Rice Print Shop in Rice, Minnesota and is a prolific blogger, participating in several personal and group blogs. She is also the author of the Gutterotica Manifesto and has recently returned to the modeling industry. She is also the art director of Catnose Comics, publisher of "Somewhere in Fargo," "The Nine Lives of Catnose," "KillerDyke.com," "Rasputin Catamite", "Rasputin Barxotka," and Courie Bishop's "moving forcefully into scope." Her illustrations currently grace Michael Boatman's book, God Laughs When You Die.
This page was originally based on an entry from Wikipedia and is used under their GNU Free Documentation License.
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PRINT SHOP TO OPEN IN RICE, LAUNCH CARTOON 'CELL'
[Source: St. Cloud Times, Added: 5/6/06]
It's good to have a strong arts community," print shop owner Vanesa Littlecrow Wojtanowicz said. "There's such an incredible amount of talent in this town."