Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Face Behind Bikeyface

Bikeyface with her bike and cycling bonnet
It's not every day that one meets a cartoon character, let alone a bicycling cartoon character. And so imagine my delight upon learning that I live just minutes from one. Allow me to introduce: Bikeyface!

A sure cure for self-seriousness, Bikeyface is a weekly comic strip that offers a parallel universe where all the weird stuff we imagine but don't say out loud materialises in cartoon form. Rich in visual detail, manic undertones, and good old fashioned perversity, Bikeyface has charmed the bicycle blogging universe with unexpected gems like "Office Shower Politics",  "Men in Skirts" and "Winter Beard." 

Bikeyface with her bike and cycling bonnet
The heroine of Bikeyface describes herself as a "common commuter" type - who wears "non-spandex" clothing, "inappropriate cycling footwear," a hounstooth patterned helmet, and a "bikey smile" as she pedals around greater Boston on her bike, Marlene Dietrich.

Bikeyface, Gears Necklace
Occasionally she will don a cycling-themed accessory, such as this gear pendant (okay, so they're the wrong type of gears)...

Mustachio'ed Bikeyface
...or a beard/muschachio balaclava, to compensate for her lack of facial hair on chilly winter commutes.

Bikeyface, Surly Cross-Check
But who is Bikeyface really, the woman behind the cartoon and the knitted facial hair?

Bikeyface, Surly Cross-Check
Well, all right: She is Bekka. She is a painter with a non-painterly dayjob, to which she commutes by bike. She lives in Somerville, MA. Before that she lived in LA and rode her bike there. And she is from New England originally. 

Bikeyface, Somerville MA
The bike she currently rides is a tiny Surly Cross-Check in her favourite colour, which she got last summer and loves. It is called "Marlene Dietrich" because it is sultry and feminine, yet with a tomboyish edge. Of course. Other bikes she has owned have included an Electra Amsterdam and a couple of hybrids, but Marlene is the preferred ride - used for both commuting and long distance recreational cycling.

Bikeyface, Somerville MA
Of all the people I've met so far via the cycling blog connection, meeting Bekka has been my biggest "the worlds collide" type of experience. Besides living walking distance from one another, we discovered that we have some uncanny non-bikey things in common and spend more time talking about those than we do about cycling. It sometimes feels as if we are interacting as two different sets of people: the real us, with our bikey alter egos hovering in the background. We've talked a little about identity - how we both come across differently on our blogs than we do in person, and how people react to that difference when they meet us. Whereas Bikeyface is a perky, mischievous and boisterous character, in person Bekka is subtle and analytical, and rather difficult to characterise. Visually, she is striking: A soft and delicate face with enormous, unusually shaped blue eyes - the type of face that belongs in a 1930s French film and not so much in a 21st century bike cartoon. I would certainly like to paint her some time, as herself.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy Bikeyface and invite you to do the same. The strip normally comes out every Wednesday morning and is certain to brighten up your day. 

46 comments:

  1. Thankyou Velouria! With Yehuda Moon out of commission, this is just the thing. And since she doesn't have to meet a daily deadline, hopefully she won't burn out.
    Ecovelo has just done the same thing, so I was on the hunt for new favorites.

    ReplyDelete
  2. While bikeyface seems geared to the women out there in bicycle land I find some her humor to be funny enough to read the blog once in awhile..

    ReplyDelete
  3. I saw the helmet in the first photo and before I even started reading thought "that looks like the Bikeyface lady!"

    I certainly second Velouria's recommendation of Bikeyface (which I found through this blog) it's a fun read.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great bike, great sense of humor, great blog, and cute! I want to see her paintings!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nice try, but this is you with a hair cut.

    Also not her because no hair on the helmet.

    Stuff I learned from her blog: it's about hair.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I knew you would say that Jim, so here is a picture of us together. Also, I cut my hair specifically to experiment with whether motorists would treat me differently.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I saw the photo posted on Twitter yesterday with the two of you together, and I have to admit that I thought the same thing as Jim... you kind of do look like you could be sisters. Maybe you are just kindred spirit sisters. :O) Regardless, it's nice to see the face behind Bikeyface.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You would, but I don't recognize the person on the left - she's laughing.

    Had long hair once; men looked like they wanted to puke when I turned around.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "Had long hair once; men looked like they wanted to puke when I turned around."

    Wish I didn't have a mouthfull of tea when I read this.

    That's funny that Bekka & I come aross as looking alike, we don't really; I have different facial features, proportions and mannerisms. In person and when I had long hair, I would also get confused with Susan whenever we were both at Harris Cyclery, at least from a distance and from the back. Maybe I am one of those chameleon people who can look like anyone in the right light.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I don't think you look alike, but there is something in the eyes. Love the gears pendant and her blouse! I don't wear a helmet, but if I did that would be the one. Is it a Bern?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anon - I think it is a Giro helmet.

    ReplyDelete
  12. What kind of helmet is that? I've never seen one like it before. Very fashionable and no bubble-head!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hello Bekka Bikey Face! V, in that picture of the two of you together, you kinda look like Angela Chase.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for sharing this personalization. It's always interesting to meet the people behind my favorite blogs!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Ooh thanks, I love Angela Chase. I am growing my bangs out and feeling very 90s in general : )

    Giro helmet, confirmed. Search for "giro houndstooth"

    ReplyDelete
  16. I read that some girl started a new comic strip that's similar to Yehuda Moon. Went to read it, and man it is nothing like YM. Bikeyface is disturbing and NSFW. Needless to say I am a huge fan. Keep up the good work!

    Matt

    ReplyDelete
  17. IMO the only thing Bikeyface has in common with Yehuda Moon is the theme of cycling.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hello Becca,
    I think we met at the tweed ride- I was admiring your "tweedy" helmet! Saw the leather version at REI on sale, but couldn't commit to it.

    Glad to make the connection to your blog, which I think is fantastic- hope to see you riding around!

    Cycler

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love Bikeyface. And seeing the woman behind the genius is such a treat! I love that you guys are real-world friends now.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Yehuda Moon was an experiment in taking Family Circus levels of unfunny and giving the characters beards and bikes.

    There is a bike site that "featured" YM on the bottom. I was careful not to scroll too far down.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Bikeyface is a great blog! Thanks for this interview and introduction to Bekka, Velouria. Amazing that you two have so much in common, too.
    Vicki

    ReplyDelete
  22. I liked Yehuda Moon and was sad when it was discontinued; hopefully it still might come back. I do not think it was intended to be funny per se. Never read Family Circus, not much of a comic strip person generally.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I could never understand Yehuda Moon, but sent them some money just to support a bike cartoonist.

    Bikeyface ,on the other hand, is right up my alley :)

    I found it through your blog, so thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I always found I could really relate to Yehuda Moon (and not just because of the beard and my proclivity for riding in flip-flops), it seemed to capture some of the absurdity of shop life.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Bikeyface never fails to make me smile (or laugh out loud!). I think it is karma that you two live so close! Thanks for sharing the photos, and backstory!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Velouria and Bekka should join forces as Cycling Super Heroes. Disguised in their beard balaclavas and riding hipster fixies, they'll fight for truth, justice and cyclists' rights.
    Bikeyface is hilarious. The artwork is super. How nice that you are neighbors.
    MT Cylist

    ReplyDelete
  27. yeah, I agree that the Bikeyface <-> Yehuda connection is a bit tenuous. They're both funny in different ways, but one is narrative and the other is editorial cartoon.

    you know, there are enough of us who live within a couple of miles of each other (and, I think, cross paths with each other) that some kind of Boston bike blogger get-together is overdue. Maybe a group brunch at the S&S or Friendly Toast sometime after the holidays?

    ReplyDelete
  28. The cartoon of Bekka looks like her. The art is really well done. Thanks to your blog, I'm enjoying them now. So glad you two could get together.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I always look forward to my weekly dose of Bikeyface. And happy to say that I've been reading since almost the beginning.

    ReplyDelete
  30. cris 7:12 . . . having lived in Somerville in 1986-87, I find that reading Lovely Bicycle is often an exercise in nostalgia for me, but your mention of the S&S really hit home. My wife and I spent many an evening there. Makes me want to move back -- almost, anyway.

    Velouria . . . thanks for the intro to Bekka and Bikeyface!

    ReplyDelete
  31. @Cycler, we did meet at the tweed ride! But I didn't match you with your blog until recently. Hope to see you around!

    @Ground Round Jim, this is absolutely hilarious--> "Had long hair once; men looked like they wanted to puke when I turned around." Will make a point to do less posts on hair in the future... maybe.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Well he got a haircut sounds like, so we can all relax.

    ReplyDelete
  33. "Had long hair once; men looked like they wanted to puke when I turned around."


    Jim, I think we accidentally "checked each other out" back when we were in our twenties.
    Sorry if I mentally scarred you, man.

    V and Bekka, I suspect there might be a lot of cross-pollination between the blogs. This could be some fun trouble.

    I really enjoy Bekka's drawing style- she puts down some very honest, economical lines.

    Her "winter beard" post incited me to grow mine again!
    (I forgot how much these things itch.)

    ReplyDelete
  34. Even though the drawing style and humor are completely different, there is something about Bikeyface that reminds me of Bill Plympton's animation, especially "I married a strange person." Hard to find and not safe for work or children, but worth seeing.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Love, love, love the Bikeyface! Thank you for introducing me to it!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Hi Bekka!

    Bike world is so small ha ha, glad to see you doing so well for yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Ha. Today's Bikeyface stip is very relatable! Need to dig my pink gloves out of the closet.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Velouria,thanks SO much for this post,I had never seen\heard of Bikeyface,but have been thoroughly enjoying the catching up reading of it today,and I definately clicked "Follow" (works really well being that I have a Wordpress blog myself,just a simple click) :)

    Disabled Cyclist

    ReplyDelete
  39. Plympton - not bad, but no Ralph Steadman.

    ReplyDelete
  40. so nice to see bikeyface in the flesh!! i ahve been wanting that helmet for the winter!!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thank you for posting about her, what a brilliant woman! Bikeyface is now a fixture in my Bookmarks Bar.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Thanks Velouria for this blog (and the pics.)on Bikeyface / Bekka. I found her blog thru Boston Biker about 6 months ago, she is amazing ! Love the Surly Cross-Check, all it needs to complete it is a B-17 Brooks Saddle...

    ReplyDelete
  43. Am I getting confused, or is that last photo taken outside The Independent?

    I loved that pub!

    ReplyDelete