Interview: Kika

Today we’re joined by Kika. Kika is a phenomenal writer and visual artist who is best known for their webcomics. They currently have two webcomics posted: Adventure Inc. (a story about a shapeshifter and their employee) and Toss of Fate (a romantic coming-of-age story). Their webcomics have a lot of LGBTQ+ subject matter and they put a lot of themself in their work (through character, situation, or story). It’s clear they’re a talented and dedicated artist who loves what they do, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. PRIDE

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, I work as a self-publishing webcomic artist. I’m only a couple years into it, but I currently have two ongoing webcomics free to read online. The first is Anything Inc. — an odd business with a shapeshifting owner and an employee who was dragged into this crazy random job. It’s humorous, but does reveal its dark side. The other, and probably more well known, is Toss of Fate — a romantic coming of age comic of two boys in their high school color guard. If you like color guard, cinnamon roll characters, deep sad stories, and dorks in love- you’ll enjoy this.

I hope to eventually break into more comics, zines, and animation/storyboarding whether it be with a company or building it up on my own.

What inspires you?

I think my drive to get myself out there. I want to entertain one way or another and I live to please honestly. So I work hard for the readers of my comics and my friends who support me. Not only that, but my story and characters. I grow close to them and I get excited with every new page I can put out because I see them grow, my art style grow, and the story continue further. It’s very fulfilling.

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

I love cartoons and comics. I always wanted to make my own cartoons and stories since I was little. I made horribly drawn comics of my friends and I in high school doing stupid random things and would draw stupid things to make others laugh. I love to make other laugh. Thank goodness for webcomics and for enjoying them once I got to college. It gave me a starting point and a way to work on growing as an artist.

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?

I wish. I should have like something hidden within each page. Only thing I put on each piece of art is my signature in the corner. And I don’t know if it counts but my style. That stands out in itself. It’s very….derpy? LOL, but I love it.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Never give up and keep drawing. I wasn’t able to draw a decent looking character/figure until AFTER college. But with practicing more and more I’m now able to be proud of the characters I draw and they seem relatively proportional. Not everything happens at once, so be patient and give it time. Also, references are your best friend! They really make things look SOOO much better.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a Non-binary Demisexual.

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

I recently went to our city’s pride parade and was kind of bummed of lack of not only Ace/ Non-binary People represented, but lack of mercy vendors were sending. I was with my Pan friends and they were over joyed they had pansexual things and they were all selling out and it was Pan city. But I’d ask vendors if they had anything Ace/Demi/Non-binary and luckily ONE vendor had a Demi flag. And thus I was super Demi, wearing that flag as a cape to represent.

Other than that light thing, nothing really thank fully.

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

Growing up I never had interest in dating or anything sexually. However, literally everyone would be like “Oh, well someday you will.” And that was very toxic to say because once I did get into a relationship, I was so scared for people to know and to be like “I told you so!” Even though it’s not like that at all. Not everything is about sex or things that typical relationships entitle.

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

Don’t be ashamed of yourself. Especially if you are Ace. It’s scary having everyone around growing up talking about relationships, sex, and being really into it, but then it’s you in the corner not into it and suddenly you’re “Peter Pan”. You don’t have to be into anything. Just be you and enjoy/love who you are because only you can make yourself happy. ❤

And if you ever do end up in a relationship, it’s okay. Don’t be ashamed. Things happen sometimes. That’s how I knew I was Demi.

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

To find the main source of link to my work, you can go here: https://kikaescoolio.wordpress.com/

There I have all sorts of art that I do as well as links to my webcomics and social media. My comics can also be found on SmackJeeves, Tapas, and Webtoons. Just look for Anything Inc., Toss of Fate, or the author name- Kikaescoolio.

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

Interview: Lauren Hemphill

Today we’re joined by Lauren Hemphill. Lauren is a wonderful author whose novel, Viridis, is available for pre-order. She has created a sci-fi narrative revolving around an aromantic asexual character, who is supported by numerous LGBT+ characters. Lauren has written the characters that she wished she had growing up. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate author with a bright future, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My work is primarily fiction writing, specifically sci-fi and fantasy. I focus on themes such as gray morality, loyalty, and friendship. I also tend to write LGBT+ characters, with a focus on aro-ace orientations.

What inspires you?

Music tends to be what inspires me most, with instrumental songs from various soundtracks being what I write to most. Excellent storytelling by fellow writers also pushes me to do better, be it T.V. shows or other novels. Seraphina, Orleans, and The Uglies being some of the novels that have inspired me throughout my writing career.

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

Since I was a child, I have always been telling stories. Originally, I sought to be a painter, where I could tell stories through the canvas. As I grew, though, I found myself drawn to writing, and amazed by the use of words and style to make a world come to life. The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld was the first novel that ever hooked me, and is what ended up inspiring my road down writing.

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?

A common theme in most of my written work is the graying of morality. I tend to enjoy playing with the idea that not everything is black and white, that good people do bad things, and vice versa. I seek to show the world as complex in my writing as it is in real life.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Advice I would give fellow artists is this: not everyone will believe in you. Throughout my time as a writer, I have had many people doubt my ability to be published and be successful. In those times, remember how far you’ve come, remember that you need to be your biggest fan. All the best things in life are hard to achieve, but I would encourage all of you to continue your art, because there are people out there that need it more than you could ever know.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an aromantic asexual.

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

Luckily, I have seemed to dodge most prejudice within the writing field. I’ve found a good group of friends and writers who support what I’m doing, and haven’t had to face writers being ignorant of the orientation. I have encountered people in the outside world who have disliked my inclusion of LGBT+ characters and believed asexuality to be a phase, but writers themselves have come across as inclusive and kind in my experience.

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

I’ve heard most often that asexuality is a phase, or something that will pass when I get older. As I have held no interest in any gender in either a romantic or sexual sense for over twenty-four years now, however, I don’t see legitimacy in the claim.

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

I would tell my fellow aces that it’s okay to not be sure, and it’s okay to take things slow. You should also know that you’re not broken. I know that’s common rhetoric within the community, but please believe all of us that you’re truly not broken. It can be hard accepting your orientation when it’s different than what the world would like to accept, but there’s a community where you belong, and there’s a community that will support you as you figure yourself out. Take your time.

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

My first novel, Viridis, featuring an aro-ace lead and a cast of LGBT+ characters in a sci-fi universe is for preorder now on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble! Searching my name on either website will bring up my novel, or you can follow this link:

http://a.co/6fHcDAC

My website, winter-publishing.com, is occasionally updated with writing WIPs and various other projects, and my YouTube channel, TheKnightmare, is a place where I review indie animated series. You can also follow me on Twitter at knightmarelair and DeviantArt at knightmarekm.

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

Interview: EJ Anderson

Today we’re joined by EJ Anderson. EJ is a wonderful writer and visual artist who is the creator of Gecko Jehovah, a webcomic that prominently features a m/m couple. The webcomic has been running since June 2015. EJ is an incredibly passionate and dedicated artist who has been drawing for years. Her enthusiasm is admirable, as you’ll soon read. 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’ve had a lot of different projects but right now I write and draw a long-form webcomic called Gecko Jehovah, which I’ve been publishing since June 2015. It’s my very first adventure in digital drawing and also my first exercise in drawing (almost) every day since high school.

What inspires you?

Good comedy, good dialogue, observational writing in general. And then lot of the basic concepts and main characters in my ‘verse come from dreams because I used to be very diligent about writing down my dreams, but I’m less consistent with that these days.

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

Yep. I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid and I went to an arts magnet high school and then majored in art at university ever since then. I’m impaired in math so I wasn’t able to pursue any of my more scientific interests because of that.

I’ve only been drawing “seriously” – as in, almost every day and with the explicit goal of improvement – since August 2014, though. And I started doing this at the encouragement of a dear friend who thought I might have a grain of a cool story in the universe I’d created when I was much younger.

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?

I’m big on Easter eggs and I slip them in whenever I can, and it’s not really important to me whether anyone finds them, it’s just a fun thing that keeps the process interesting.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep plugging away, I know it’s cliché but it works. And sometimes you’re going to feel like you’ve plateaued or even that your skills are getting worse. This is a normal part of the process, because seeing and actually drawing are two separate skillsets that can sometimes get out of sync with each other. So sometimes you’ll be better at seeing your mistakes than you are at correcting them, and when this happens you just have to keep drawing and eventually your brain will sort itself out.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Just asexual.

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

Within my artistic field? Nah, not really. In fact I think every time I’ve asked if asexual artists are included in calls for LGBT-produced comics, the answer has been yes, which is wonderfully refreshing.

Outside of comics, on the larger internet as a whole, though? There’s a lot of it. I typically handle it by using filters and blockers to hide upsetting content from myself but honestly I’m quite bad at that and I get into arguments pretty regularly.

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

That asexual people with opposite-sex partners are “just straight”. I’d say this isn’t so much a misconception as it is an informed opinion that I fundamentally reject, though.

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

First off, that it’s okay to shed the asexual label if you find it no longer applies to you. Labels are tools and it’s perfectly fine to stop using them when they stop working. I say this because I’ve known very young people who assumed they were asexual when in fact they were just developing an interest in sex at a later age than their peers, and this can create an identity crisis. So know that it’s absolutely fine to change your label at any time and it doesn’t mean you were faking or lying before, it just means you’re learning new things about yourself.

And second, and this is a big one: know that you don’t have to have sex. Ever. You don’t have to go skydiving, you don’t have to climb Mt. Everest, you don’t have to hike the Appalachian Trail, you don’t have to kiss the Blarney Stone, and you don’t have to have sex. Just because it’s on most people’s bucket list doesn’t mean it has to be on yours.

And if you’re romantic but sex-repulsed, know that it’s absolutely possible to have a happy, healthy, long-term relationship where sex is simply not on the table. I know it’s cheesy to say “there’s a lid for every pot” but the human species is insanely diverse, the internet has given us access to so many types of people, and you (yes you) can meet somebody. Don’t give up hope.

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

I publish my comic at http://geckojehovah.com/ and my other doodles and side projects can be found on http://sideshowratt.deviantart.com/. Thanks for looking!

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

Interview: Melinda Gillispie

Today we’re joined by Melinda Gillispie. Melinda is a phenomenally talented young writer who has been writing for quite some time. She specializes in original fiction and writes a lot of LGBTQIA+ characters, which is always great to see. She has a wonderful enthusiasm and love for the art of writing, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve been writing in general for a long time. In elementary school, when we’d have to write a creative story, I’d always be the one with the best story. It was the same in middle school, and now high school. All of my stories have been original fiction or fan fiction, except for whenever we’re required to write autobiographies for class. My most popular story right now is one that I came up with at random several years ago and have been writing online since. It’s a fan fiction, but that’s not relevant. I have so many more stories planned out and characters being developed in my head at all times, so I make sure to write down ideas somewhere so I can remember it for when I have time to write it. I’m wanting to become a published author in the future, but on the off chance I don’t make much money in that field, I’m looking into majoring in something else in college when I get there.

What inspires you?

I’m honestly not sure. I get inspiration and ideas for stories at random; for example, I recently binge-read a book series about dragons and started creating my own fictional dragon world a few hours after. When I get inspired to write more for my current stories, it’s when I’ve been reading something similar or with the same general aspects (time travel, revolution, etc.) So I guess my inspiration would be other authors’ books and stories!

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

When I first started writing for something other than school assignments, it was when I had finished reading what was published of the Warrior Cats series by Erin Hunter at the time. I was so excited, since cats have always been a part of my life. Erin Hunter’s writing was so similar to my own thought process that I based my own writing style off of hers. I started thinking of my own characters that I would personally place into the story, and it all kind of went from there. Actually I stopped being interested in it for a few years, surprisingly. During that time I decided I wanted to be an artist who painted and drew, but I’ve never been good at painting in general. I’ve always been better at painting mental pictures with words.

In 6th or 7th grade I started talking to people that I now consider some of my closest online friends, and they actually encouraged me to start writing (without knowing it, of course!) My first story was a complete disaster, to tell the truth. Nobody read it, the grammar was the worst, the storyline wasn’t well thought out… it was just horrible. The second was a bit better; I had about 200 readers, 15 of which had decided to follow the story and get notifications when I updated, and I got good feedback. Reading back on it now as a sophomore in high school… that story is cringe-worthy. I’m tempted to rewrite it completely.

I haven’t always wanted to write, but lately it’s been one of my biggest passions and one of my proudest accomplishments. Living with all of my insecurities, it’s nice being able to see how many people care for me and like my writing. It’s boosted my self-esteem a lot. I’d love to live my life as an author. Maybe not the #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR, but I’d like to sell some of my books, you know?

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?

The main characters in my stories are always LGBT in some way. In Golden Blood, the main character (based off of me) is super gay for her girlfriend (based off my own girlfriend.) In Stolen Time, the main character is openly aro/ace. I guess that’s kind of a feature I like to include in my stories.

In my stories I tend to focus more on the plot than the setting, which might just be bad writing on my part. I find myself neglecting to include how the environment (like the weather) would affect the storyline. The vocabulary doesn’t include hugely fancy words; I prefer to write using words I incorporate into everyday life so as not to confuse my readers.

I guess my writing style in general is unique in its own way. Everyone writes differently and has their own style, just like how everyone sees color slightly differently. We all see the world in our own special ways, so we interpret and portray our personal worlds in our own ways, as well.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My advice would be “do what you love best.” If you love writing but aren’t good at spelling, go ahead, write anyway! If you want to get better with spelling, just look up how to spell certain words online. Also, I’m sure if you write online, your readers would gladly help you out. Nobody can do what you can do except yourself. So do what you want, in your own way! If you want to write fan fiction, go for it. If you want to draw silly comics, have fun! It’s your life. Make the best of it.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as panromantic asexual. I do lean more towards females but that’s just a personal preference.

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

Well, I’ve definitely encountered lots of rude people who made fun of me, said I wasn’t valid, said “hey if we stuff her in a room with romantic music and candles, will she emerge with a clone?” and other degrading things. But with writing, not so much. I’m a digital writer, so all of my works are online, and people have yet to shove their ignorance on me when it comes to asexuality. Of course, someone once said I’d go to hell for writing a story with gay characters but that’s not ace prejudice, it’s just LGBT prejudice.

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

Definitely the misconception that we are all plants and reproduce on our own. In biology class sometimes people point to pictures of cells going through mitosis and say “hey, look! It’s Melinda,” which hurts but I’ve learned to roll with it. I used to get more easily offended but now I joke about it too. Yes, I reproduce on my own and my clone army is coming for you. Beware.

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

Do what you feel is best for you. If you think coming out would put you in danger, stay closeted until you feel safe to come out. If you’re not sure, that’s fine! Questioning things about yourself isn’t a sin. If you feel you desperately need a label, just look up the different sexualities and genders and figure it out. If you think you’re ace, identify as ace! Your identity can change over time, there’s no harm in that. I used to think I was straight. Then bisexual. Then pansexual. Then panromantic asexual. I feel most at home with this label, but I could figure out more about sexualities and change it in time. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you!! You’re valid no matter what.

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

You can go to my Quotev, where I write most often. I also have a story up full of photos of art I made in art class with other fun mediums. Most of my stories aren’t even published or made yet, so you don’t have many to read, but that’s fine. I’m getting better at updating often and not completely abandoning stories. My Quotev URL is at MellyMelon, and the username is Goldenflight. If you want to follow my Tumblr too, it’s at golden-melon. I usually spam post memes on Tumblr but I also post writing prompts and other stuff that has to do with art. My girlfriend is also an asexual artist. She’ll be submitting her interview sooner or later. We’re gay and it’s cute and she’s cute and I love her. She’s Haylee Scribner, so if you see hers, you should follow her accounts too! ❤

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

Signal Boost: Bone Diggers

Hey everyone!

I normally only do signal boosts on the weekend, however this one has a deadline on August 31st, so I decided to make an exception.

Tiffany from FYeahAsexual (a really great ace blog) has a story on WattPad entitled Bone Diggers.  She’s currently trying to win a contest.  Here’s what she had to say about it:

I’m trying to win a Wattpad contest for People’s Choice because it would be sooo amazing if an series written by an asexual and bisexual (my partner) won. The series is full of LGBT+ characters and if you could give this tweet a shout out or even simply RT it yourself would be such a huge help.

Come on, followers and ace allies!  Let’s give this really talented ace writer a hand!  Go forth and re-tweet!  I really want to see an ace win this thing!