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A Conversation With 'BubbleMama'

Dec 20, 2018 08:24AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
If you live in Manhattan Beach and you've been on Instagram, you've probably seen the work of BubbleMama (@BubbleMama69), whose pencil-and-ink cartoon sketches portray all-too-real satirical glimpses of life in the "bubble."

In the eighteen months since BubbleMama has been publishing on Instagram, she's tickled funny bones, ruffled some feathers, and garnered a devoted following of Manhattan Beach (and non-Manhattan Beach) readers alike.*

But who is she? Only a few of her closest friends know her identity. She agreed to sit down with DigMB for a brief interview, on the condition that she be allowed to remain anonymous.

"I've always drawn. I'm the person in high school who would send you a crazy note," she said, noting that she is a huge fan of New Yorker cartoons. "That gave me so much joy - to draw, and to make my friends laugh."

While making sketches about two years ago, she said she started imagining life in Manhattan Beach through the lens of a Seinfeld/Clueless mash-up. Before long, BubbleMama was born. "It's all about the small things... the nonsense, the ridiculousness," she said. 

Some of her illustrations hit close to home for many Manhattan Beach "moms." Her very first illustration showed a mom at Junior Guards tryouts holding her phone telling her kid to wait "one sec" while she posts his tryout time on social media.

A recent illustration - showing a mom buying matching Halloween costumes for a clique of "BFF" girls while two girls with hats labeled "Kind" and "Sweet" are left behind - struck a nerve with many parents.  "People will write to me all the time," she said. "So many parents will say, 'That exact thing happened to me' or 'That happened to my daughter!'"

"I try to be really careful not to call anyone out specifically," she added. "I just want to bring awareness to some of the ridiculousness."

BubbleMama also isn't shy about depicting both mundane and intimate parts of Manhattan Beach life. Her cartoon "mamas" are seen getting a mammogram, sitting for an annual Pap smear, getting Botox, getting vaginal rejuvenation, and jumping into bed with the husband for a few minutes while the kids are otherwise occupied.

One of her comics on Bird scooters actually earned her fans at the Manhattan Beach Police Department. "We hung the Bird scooter post in our Community Affairs Office for about a week," said MBPD Officer Kristie Colombo. "We send out many of the Nixle alerts from our office and thought it was great that the cartoon featured MBPD and said to check the Nixle alert."

BubbleMama has only ever removed one post - one that skewered a local organization - but she says she's otherwise not focused on appeasing critics. "I want people to just relax a little bit. I'm not out to offend anybody. I just want people to laugh a little bit."

In her "real" life, BubbleMama is far from the bubble-headed mom she satirizes. She describes herself as a "full-time everything" and is dedicated to her art. After she's finished with all of her regular daily commitments, she makes time to draw each night - while also experimenting with new techniques like stop-motion video.

What's next for BubbleMama? For now, she's focusing on her art and growing her audience. Her second account, @OCBubbleMama, is starting to draw notice in Newport Beach (her hometown). She also sells trucker caps and notecards on her website, BubbleMama, and at Trilogy Spa and SuperSports. For every hat sold, she donates a dollar to Unravel Pediatric Cancer, which was started by one of her friends. 

She also donates sketches to parent party and education foundation auctions that benefit the schools. "I love to do it for the community," she said. "I want to be a part of the community, contribute to the community, and bring awareness to some of the ridiculous stuff that goes on." 

"I just love it here," she added.

*(Note: BubbleMama is not to be confused with a different Instagram account called The Bubble - @the.bubble - which is by artist Ian Freshman.)

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