Interview: K O’Shea

Today we’re joined by K O’Shea. K is a wonderful writer who has completed a fascinating sounding graphic novel. Anytime someone mentions The Maltese Falcon, I perk right up (I’m a sucker for noir). K’s novel is entitled The Ghost Army of Atlantis and it’s currently being illustrated. It’s clear they’re very passionate about the project, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I currently have an unpublished but fully written graphic novel called The Ghost Army of Atlantis: A Millie Buckle, Ace Investigator Adventure. It is currently being drawn and colored by the artist, who is an equal partner on the project.

Millie Buckle was a project I began while I first was working out what being asexual meant to me, and is a reflection of what I always wanted in literature – awesome women, zero romance, and skeletons fighting ghosts in a two-page spread splash panel. Millie is a private investigator in the 1930s who often gets called for some of the weirder crimes – the elevator pitch is basically “What if The Maltese Falcon also summoned ghosts?”

I also write the occasional editorial and review on a website created by friends.

What inspires you?

A lot of my inspirations come from experiences or shared stories with my friends, but I do take a lot of influence from the books and movies I had growing up. There’s a little bit of Stephen King in me, but also some K.A. Applegate and Terry Pratchett.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Honestly, I always have ideas for stories, but I get the most excited when I get to share them with friends and family.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

That would probably be a good idea, huh? Probably my love of the semi-colon, which gets used far more than grammatically should be allowed.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be afraid to shove things back in the vault if it’s not working. You might get to it later when you’ve learned more. It’s okay to let yourself stop and move on to something else if you’re just not feeling it. If you force it, it’ll come out forced.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Sex-neutral, alloromantic, asexual. It’s never been that important to me as it has been for my partners – I get intimacy from emotional bonds and physical closeness.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Not personally, but I’ve seen more published authors struggle with it.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That my marriage is not as valid as it otherwise would be. My spouse and I love each other, and sex doesn’t factor into it. We’re no less married than we were before I figured this out.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

You’re not broken. You are absolutely not broken.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

My reviews, editorials, and former podcast (I have since given it to my former cohost who continues to produce it) are at Made of Fail Productions (http://www.madeoffail.net). When Ghost Army is nearing artistic completion and ready for publishing, it will be there as well.

I’m also around at Twitter and Tumblr under the username osheamobile.

Thank you, K, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Chrystal Kyees

Today we’re joined by Chrystal Kyees. Chrystal is a phenomenal visual artist and writer. She’s currently working on a graphic novel that sounds positively fascinating. She has also written a lot of poetry and a fantasy novel. It’s very apparent that Chrystal is incredibly dedicated, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Selfie
Selfie

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a writer and visual artist. My current graphic novel project is in the research phase but I do plan on posting it on Tumblr when it finally gets underway. I am very excited about this current story! The main character is asexual and agender! It is set in South Wales and is called Twilight Cafe (Caffi Cyfnos). I have one completed fantasy novel and more than a few poems.

What inspires you?

All the things!

In all seriousness however, I do mean that. I am deeply affected by my surroundings. I am constantly taking a moment to absorb and crystallize events in my mind. I want to hold it all. I am also influenced by fairy-tales, myths, science fiction, and love in its many complex and strange manifestations.

9.23.11
9.23.11

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Oh, I have almost always combined words and illustration. I recall having a notebook when I was perhaps five or six, that had framing on top of ruled lines so that it allowed for a story book type format. I still think about that notebook from time to time.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

Purple prose? Ha!

I think in most of my works you’ll find a mythic quality and no small amount of magic. That’s not to boast that my work will transform a person, but that I consciously put elements of magic realism and magical thinking into what I do.

Simpsons Commision
Simpsons Commission

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what you love and don’t let what people think make you lose yourself in either direction. Keep creating and never stop. The world needs more creation.

Blaspheme 6.29.11
Blaspheme 6.29.11

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am demisexual and outside of my partner I am sex repulsed.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I have not but I am extremely solitary. I am sure with my newest project I will get backlash from a few people and I have not yet decided how I am going to handle it. For now I am observing how other artists take it and I am making mental notes.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Allosexuals have a really difficult time conceptualizing that their experience is not universal. Also that asexuality is not equivalent to lack of desire, a lack of a need for other physical comforts, nor is it a rejection of another person’s affection.

Persephone 6.27.11
Persephone 6.27.11

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

You’re not broken or wrong or missing something inside yourself. You are whole and perfectly designed. Don’t waste time on people who will not see who you are and refuse to change their opinions. If you would like a partner, you will find one and if you do not, that is just as valid. Having a relationship (or sex within or without that structure) is not some sort of achievement you have to reach. You’re just fine.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

For now I am solely on Tumblr and with only one main blog, iamacollectionofmiscellanyandtea.tumblr.com. This is my personal blog so while it contains my art, it will also contain other fragments of my interests. It is also where I will make any announcements of any projects I have waiting in the wings.

Janeway
Janeway

Thank you, Chrystal, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Anouk Tremblay

Today we’re joined by Anouk Tremblay.  Anouk is a multi-talented artist from Canada.  She is a cartoonist, a graphic novelist, a comic book artist, and an illustrator.  She draws a lot.  My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a cartoonist, so I do mainly comics and illustrations.

What inspires you?

Everyday things, but especially what makes people feel bad about themselves, or about the world about them. Taboos if I may say.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve been dragged into cartoonism by manga at a young age (firstly by Dragon Ball, then by Inuyasha and then by many shojo, shonen ai and lastly yaoi). I was forced out of anime and manga by my animation teacher.

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?

Speaking about something without mentioning it. I’m not the only one doing it, but my teachers thought it was particular in some way that I’d star a gay couple without making it look “abnormal”.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Working hard is the only key. Never rely on your “talent”. There is nothing as such a thing. Talent is 10% of a nice piece of art. 90% of it is hard work. Draw everyday and never give up. Work on your weaknesses.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I don’t like identifying to anything in general, but for the purpose of this project, I’ll say that I’m a Pandemisexual.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I didn’t come out as an asexual person and I’m pretty sure that people about me wouldn’t guess anything (I’m quite loud about sex in general because I’m really open about it and not embarrassed at all), but my ex boyfriend didn’t understand how I didn’t want to have sex everyday with him (and he didn’t respect it either, but that’s another story)

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Well, the classic I’d say: asexual people are frigid as fuck. Though, my surrounding is generally well informed, so I don’t encounter many problems.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

It’s OK to still be questioning… and I still am, so yeah. My own struggle was to deal with finding someone understanding to share their life with me, with my lack of libido and sexual need… Don’t let yourself pressured by society and by your surrounding? I don’t really have any advice to give about it, unfortunately.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Right here: http://anoukbd.tumblr.com

Thank you so much, Anouk, for participating in this interview and project.  It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Naomi Lattanzi

Today we’re joined by Naomi Lattanzi.  Naomi wrote what remains my all-time favorite email subject line:  “Asexual Artists Assemble!”  Marvel references = automatic awesome points.  I was so tempted to rename the blog (I might yet).  Anyhow, Naomi is currently co-publishing a graphic novel with a group and working on getting a grant for another one.  She’s a very talented graphic novelist.  My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

IMG_0241

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Before this year, I would have called myself a writer rather than an artist—mostly because I was comparing myself to my artist friends and calling my own work doodles. I’m still a writer, a singer, an unrepentant doodler, but now I am also one of a team of artists publishing a graphic novel about a Chinese American activist in the 1800s named Wong Chin Foo. This mostly leads to hours spent crouching over my desk trying not to smudge ink lines, or fixing smudged ink lines on photoshop, or coloring pages and editing them later—but it’s my art on pages that will be printed and distributed in the next couple months, and it’s led me to try creating my own graphic novel with a friend this summer. Fingers crossed that we manage to get the grant!

What inspires you?

Music! I can’t work without listening to something, often singing along. I like reading webcomics and fanfiction. It’s inspiring to see the work of other people who do art for the pure pleasure they get from sharing the stories in their heads.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

One of my best friends, whom I met in seventh grade, started me on the road to visual art. I’ve been a bookworm since I was four years old, but until my friend started lending me manga, I was completely focused on the written word. Manga opened another world to me, one that prompted me to start practicing my drawing and eventually join graphic novel projects in college. I’ve always wanted to be an author, but now I’m thinking that I’ll continue to mix the visual and written media, rather than just writing. I’ve dabbled with other forms of art—painting, acting, dancing, martial arts—and I like being able to switch it up.

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?

Hmmm… this year’s graphic novel has a hidden motif of sunfish, but that wasn’t my idea. When I’m writing, I often try to include characters who don’t conform to the gender binary, but that’s difficult to do in a non-fiction graphic novel set in the 1800s. I can say that this year’s novel has a side character (unnamed) who we have decided as a class is a transgender man who would have been the main character if our actual main character was less of a show-stealer.

I’m also a fan of making fun of your own mistakes, so I manage the blooper reels for our graphic novels. Mis-drawn and mis-colored panels can be hilarious if you caption them properly.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Hell, I’M a young aspiring artist. I pretty much have no idea what I’m doing, and the unfinished drawings, stories, story ideas, videos, etc. I’ve accumulated over the years far outweigh the projects I’ve actually finished. I guess the best thing my experience with the graphic novel project has taught me is to let crappy art happen. It’s infinitely preferable to sit at a table and cringe over shaky lines and bad proportions than to put it off until you’re in the right mood to try and get it right. Crappy art days happen. That’s why there’s photoshop. White gel pens also work pretty well when you’ve messed up inking. Command-Z and Command-S are your best friends.

Just read Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art speech, he says it better than I can.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am strongly asexual and pretty aromantic. I don’t foresee ever being in a romantic relationship, much less a sexual one. That said, I do feel romantic attraction to people (mostly feminine and female-presenting, but not exclusively), but don’t feel compelled to act on that attraction. It’s more like desiring an intense, close platonic relationship.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Sometimes—the first time I came out to friends in my GSA, they said asexual reproduction was something bacteria did. I’ve also faced some cultural gaps of understanding when I studied abroad in Japan and tried to explain to coworkers that I did not have, did not want, and never would want to have a boyfriend. Most people probably just assume I’m a lesbian, which doesn’t really bother me.

I’ve been made uncomfortable by people who talk about sex in really graphic detail and assume that it’s something I should have an interest in, but I mostly just try to redirect the conversation. It’s harder to deal with people who don’t respect personal space or try to touch me. I don’t like being touched at all by people I’m not super intimate friends with, but I don’t feel like I can communicate that without being rude. That’s led to some awkwardness in the past. There’ve been coworkers who tried to get me to go out with them before and wouldn’t listen to soft refusals, which was REALLY uncomfortable, so I played dumb until they lost interest. Passive aggression is my main defensive strategy, I guess.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

I haven’t personally encountered many misconceptions about asexuality, mostly because people don’t tend to know that asexuality is a thing. They tend to think of asexuality as something to be “cured”, kind of in a “if you meet the right person you’ll feel the urge” sort of way. I don’t deny that orientation can shift (and in fact, two of the aces I know have shifted on the spectrum pretty recently), but it’s not easy to be seen as a “real thing” when people around you peg your orientation as nothing more than a phase.

I had a teacher who assumed that because I’m ace, I’ll never be able to have biological children, which was slightly eyebrow-raising. I reminded him that artificial insemination was a thing, as was single parenthood, which stopped the conversation.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

The “It Gets Better” message isn’t just for non-heterosexual people. I found that a lot of the stress I felt as an ace in high school simply wasn’t there in college—your world gets bigger and people get less interested in imposing sexualized norms. That said, we do live in an extremely sexualized society and it can be pretty isolating to feel like an outsider to mainstream culture. I definitely had times where I felt like something was getting lost in translation between me and the rest of my peers, or felt like something in me had to be broken to not want what everyone else seemed to want.

My best advice would be to find a way to be happy with yourself. Let the rest of the world go on the back-burner for a while if you need to, just do what makes you feel happy and whole and find people who recognize the wholeness in you. It’s okay if it takes a while, just let yourself believe you’re not broken and that you will be fine.

Also platonic dates and even self-dates can be massive amounts of fun. Take yourself to a movie you really want to see, or go dancing with a good friend, get dolled up and walk around a mall or take yourself to the library, the aquarium, the Nutcracker. You’re an awesome person in any crowd, so don’t feel like you have to stay inside for any reason other than that you want to.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Graphic novels: Google Stanford Graphic novel project or visit the (very sparse) Tumblr for this year’s graphic novel : wcfsgnp.tumblr.com

And the Facebook page for info about last year’s graphic novel: A Place Among the Stars

Fanfiction: archiveofourown.org/users/NaoNazo

Miscellaneous writing: figment.com/users/8764-Naomi-Lattanzi


 

Thank you so much, Naomi, for participating in this interview and this project.  It’s very much appreciated.