Today we’re joined by Heather Nunnelly. Heather is an incredibly talented professional comic book artist. She draws a comic with an asexual main character entitled Vacant. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview
Please, tell us about your art.
I am a professional comic book artist. Right now I am working on a science fiction/film noir web comic called VACANT that stars an Asexual main character with a crew of varied sexualities. Along side that I am working on Illegal, a comic written by Jeremy Whitley, and do various illustrations to make a living.
What inspires you?
Being a feminist and trying to promote the positives ideas associated with movement. As a child I lived a very difficult life because of my gender, and I don’t want other little girls and boys to have to live the same life I did. I want to spread awareness, educate others, and inform others that they don’t have to feel alone.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I wanted to be a part of the field because my sister was always very good at it. Her name is Michelle Nunnelly, and I was mesmerized by her work; so much so that I wanted her to teach me. She did, and in return I taught her how to tell a story.
We’ve been drawing since we’ve been children. So for most of my life.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in our work that you’d be willing to reveal?
Not really. The only thing I can think of is that a lot of my characters have a lot of sass. But, the only reason on that is because I, myself, think I am too nice. A part of me wishes that I were a lot meaner than I actually am, and that channels through the characters a lot.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Don’t give up and don’t be afraid to fail. Make ugly art. That sounds stupid, but one of the biggest roadblocks I see in new artists is the fear to mess up. They want everything to be perfect. If it’s not perfect they beat themselves up about it afterwards. This is unrealistic, unhealthy, and doesn’t allow you to grow.
Screw up, get used to screwing up, and then learn.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I guess I classify myself as Bi-Asexual, which is that I am Asexual, but wouldn’t mind dating a girl or a guy. The idea of being romantic interests me, I guess but not much else. I’ve never been in a relationship, and don’t plan on it anytime soon. I’m not against the idea; I am just very very very rarely into anyone enough to do so.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Oh my god. Yes. Where do I even begin with this question?
When I was younger I didn’t classify as Asexual. I didn’t even know what that was. All I knew was that I was “different”, and that I had no interest in dating when I was in school. For a very long time I thought I was broken because of it. I thought that I was a monster (I literally said this at some point).
Everyone else treated me like I was different, too. I was constantly called a prude, and that I was “very innocent and naïve”. A lot of my colleagues treated me like I was stupid. Whenever there was sex in movies or TV, they would explain to me what was happening. This was despite the fact that I was well educated, and knew exactly what sex was.
It hurt a lot. People still do it to this day. Someone recently explained to me what oral sex was. I know what that means. I also know where the clitoris is. Just because I am not sexual doesn’t mean I am a hermit and don’t know what these things are. Sexual Education is important, and I understand that. It’s important to understand your body and how it works.
As a result of this constant backlash, I started saying that I was Bisexual. It was easier saying that then explaining what Asexuality meant, and being convinced that “I wasn’t really Asexual. I am just confused”.
Even Hayze (The main character of Vacant) suffered from this. I started saying he was Bi, because it would have been too confusing to say that he was Asexual, too. It wasn’t until this year that this changed. I finally said that he was Asexual, and luckily everyone was very accepting.
Which is absolutely wonderful, and I thank everyone who has been supportive about it.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
That we don’t know what sex is and that we can’t be aroused. I, as an Asexual, can look at someone and think, “they’re pretty”. I can write and draw porn and think it’s fun. As an Asexual, I am in charge of my sexuality. I can have the right to know what I want.
We also aren’t weird, prudish, or broken. We are not all victims of sexual assault. If your boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t into sex, they’re normal. Not being sexual doesn’t make you into a freak of nature.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
You’re not strange. Nothing about you is different than the person standing next to you. You can also find love and happiness. Someone will understand you. Don’t think that because you don’t want to have sex that people will reject you. You also don’t have to change. For anyone.
If you want to be single, be single. If you want a relationship, get one.
There are a lot of people who won’t understand. But there will be people who do.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
You may read VACANT (Which, again stars a Asexual character who talks about these things) here: http://imaginetheending.net/Vacant/
You can follow my art on tumblr here: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/imaginetheendingart
And here is my portfolio: http://www.imaginetheending.net/illustration/
Thank you so much, Heather, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.