Interview: Anna

Today we’re joined by Anna. Anna is the phenomenal visual artist and writer behind the webcomic, Last Living Souls. Her webcomic is about a man who wakes up with no memory of what happened to him and journeys to the nearest town for help, but instead finds a town of the living dead and he’s one of them. It’s an intriguing premise and definitely worth looking up. Anna has also recently gotten into creating visual novels. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. percyintro

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Hey there! I’m a webcomic artist and I’ve been writing and illustrating Last Living Souls since 2011. During that time I’ve been also picking up visual novel development as it’s a great way to tell other stories without the huge time commitment.

As a webcomic and VN dev I have to wear a lot of hats; character design, script writing, backgrounds, and more. I think that’s what’s my favorite part about those two mediums is you get to personally bring your entire story to life in a bunch of different ways, not to mention I get to grow as an artist that much more.

What inspires you?

I’m a huge fan of the horror genre, especially indie or older horror games. If a work is able to simultaneously make you so uncomfortable that you don’t want to continue yet you’re so intrigued about the story you WANT to continue, that’s the incredible sweet spot that makes me want to create myself.  I really enjoy emotional or interesting pieces in general even if they aren’t horror, I like Shonen anime and sci fi movies.

2. frontcover

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

I got into drawing as a child because I loved drawing silly joke comics or doodles starring some of my favorite characters from video games or cartoons. There was something so fun about making something that could make my friends laugh and a way I could express things I liked. Eventually, it developed into trying to draw more of my own characters and stories and I simply never stopped since, comics were an especially interesting field for me given they allow you to create such dynamic scenes and tell entire stories. While my career path never took me towards being a professional artist, I think I was always going to have art somewhere in my life.

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?

Haha, some might joke that “Way too many of my characters are missing an eye, or some body part,” which is an unintentional detail choice that crops up from time to time. But, one I’m more aware of or more direct about is my desire to include subhuman characters in my works. Things ranging from monsters to robots to mutants, there’s a lot of interesting moral dilemmas and character interactions that naturally develop from including characters that are different from ourselves. I suppose these types of characters also lend themselves well to the types of stories I like to create which usually feature some kind of horror theme or some scary situations.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You’re probably going to find a lot of art boring and hard and intimidating especially the “ART” that your high school teacher is making you create. But art doesn’t have to be only about that; practicing, learning, observing, if you make it into homework it’s going to feel like homework. Find that part about art that seems the most fun to you: is it building giant worlds? Drawing lots of different outfits? Setting up scenes with your favorite character? Coloring in a big page of lineart? Find that part of art that excites you and focus in on it, let it fill you with that energy to draw and draw and draw. Because you will be practicing, and learning when you’re drawing a whole lot! But you won’t feel like it, and that’s when art is amazing!

3. ch8pg16

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a demisexual individual, with a fairly low libido. I will experience some sexual attraction to those that I’m very emotionally close to.

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

Thankfully, most of my artistic peers are understanding (and sometimes ace themselves) and growing up my friends just thought of me as “naive” and never really treated me disrespectfully.

Joking or prejudice was fairly mild, to my fortune.

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

Asexuals hate sex, or must have had some kind of traumatic experience with sex previously. Allosexuals seem to make it into an us vs them situation, where asexuals “hate” sex and any sexual individuals.

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

It may feel like you’re a “late bloomer” and all your peers seem to be a part of some kind of club you’re not in, with talk about porn and sex and all sorts of things that just don’t interest you. It’s okay if you never become interested in it. It’s okay if you find that only that special person becomes interesting. You’re not slower than anyone else to mature, you know exactly what you like or don’t, and you might just need to find the right word to describe that and suddenly it’ll all make so much sense!

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

If a comic about undead creatures regaining their souls and trying to adapt to their new existence sounds right up your alley feel free to read Last Living Souls!

4. danielcafe

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

Interview: Holly

Today we’re joined by Holly. Holly is a wonderful writer who is currently working towards a biochem degree. In her free time, she runs a D&D campaign that involves a lot of writing and worldbuilding. They’re also working on a story podcast project, which she hopes to bring to fruition in the future. Holly is clearly a dedicated and talented hobbyist, 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.

It’s something I use to distract a little bit from the real world, nothing too professional. I’m mostly interested in writing short stories, and I’m currently working on a fictional podcast series with one of my favourite people, and while we do have some scripts written up, it is going to take a while to put into production. While I’m making my way through university for a biochemistry B.Sc, most of my creative energy goes towards a lore-rich D&D campaign in a homebrew setting that I run for my very best friends. It’s difficult and long-form but it’s increased my social confidence, I’ve created some wonderful characters that I feel able to apply to different forms of writing, and it’s definitely given me more experience with storybuilding.

What inspires you?

Generally, looking at fictional stories and seeing what hasn’t been included, rather than what has. It’s satisfying to fill a gap and tell the stories of people who aren’t often looked at in popular media, i.e. neurodivergent characters, people with underrepresented gender identities and sexualities, people with disabilities, people of varying ethnic backgrounds. I’m aware that I can’t personally relate to some of the characters I write, so I do try and stay respectful and do a ton of research, ask people who know better than me, etc. Sometimes I do make characters that correspond to my own experiences with depression and severe social anxiety, and even the speech impediment I still have to manage – and the personal catharsis I get from that can be reward enough, even if I don’t do anything with the characters or works I create.

For the most part though, I tend to like interspersing mundane reality with absurd high fantasy or scifi concepts. Like a time traveler who uses their ability to cut in line before it forms, or a particularly finicky pit fiend who wants you to remove your shoes before entering its lair.

On another level, I’d say my friends inspire me on a day to day basis. Especially the person I’m working on this project with, whom I’ll call T. T has a fascinating mind and boundless creativity, and with her and K’s support, I can have days where I feel indestructible. My mum also tends to listen to whatever crazy plotlines I’ve come up with that day too, so I’d say she also plays a big part in my support network.

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

I always wanted to be an actress when I was growing up, but did a big ol’ switcharoo around college (not university, the British meaning of college), where I found an interest in biochemistry. I’d begun to feel directing and writing was more my thing by that point anyway, but didn’t have enough belief in myself to do it. I think what drew me back to creative writing alongside my STEM studies was the freedom I felt when I began this D&D campaign. Building the world, building the story, adapting to the unexpected antics of my players, it felt like when I was a kid throwing blankets and pretending they were fireballs, or picking up a stick and pretending it was a greatsword, having intricate sociopolitical plotlines with my Barbies, and all that grand stuff. I’d been doubting for a while the value of that kind of imagination, but gradually it became necessary to keep me sane during university. Now I appreciate silliness and the Rule of Cool way more than I do grimdark, gritty, realistic scenarios.

I write more often than not to just have fun. Sometimes it’s a scenario that I can’t stop thinking about and I have to write it down or it’ll keep bouncing around in my head, and other times it’s building a character that can help me feel less alone when I’m winding myself into a spiral about the simplest social situation. I write so that any potential readers can have fun too – and, if I’m lucky, find a character that they can carry about with them like I do.

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 usually include at least one of my NPCs from my campaign in almost everything I write – with a different name and/or species. This isn’t obvious unless you’re part of that group, though.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I have struggled with finding my voice because I thought I needed someone to address – like an audience or someone who wouldn’t reject me. But to hell with it. This isn’t a marketing strategy meeting, go ahead and shout into the void with your art until someone shouts back, if that’s what you’re after. Make the art for yourself. What’s actually stopping you?

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am ace demi-aro. I think. The ace part I’m certain about, but I’m still figuring out my romantic orientation. Demi fits for now.

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

Not in my field particularly, but I’ve been given the ‘you’re young’ and ‘you’ll find someone’ or ‘how can you not be attracted to anyone, is there something wrong with you?’ talk quite a few times by well-meaning friends or relatives. Usually this is met with an eyeroll, but it hasn’t held me back anywhere. I’ve experienced some anxiety about going to LGBTQIA events because of the whole ace inclusion debate I saw floating around at the time, but I’m fairly confident aces are more universally accepted than not, these days.

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

The idea that it means having no sex drive. Even people who are familiar with asexuality seem to fall into this trap a lot. Many non-ace people seem to have trouble separating the idea of having a libido or enjoying sex with sexual attraction. I guess I can understand where they’re coming from, but I don’t know how many times I’ve said the sentence: “Asexuality is literally just a lack of sexual attraction. It means I don’t look at a person and want to have sex with them. That’s it.”

Some people seem to get it after that explanation. Others don’t. Whaddya gonna do except raise awareness?

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

Finding out that you’re ace can be a confusing and deceptive road, simply because it’s harder to characterize a lack of something than it is to characterize a different something. I thought I was bi or pan for a long time in high school because I felt the same way about all genders (turns out? Not an uncommon experience for ace/aros), and many people still don’t even believe being ace is a thing. Protip: don’t listen to those people.

What I would say? If you don’t feel you fit neatly into the ace label, firstly remember that there is a wide spectrum of asexuality, and includes identities such as gray-ace or demi-ace, but secondly remember that you don’t have to assume it. Same goes for knowing your romantic orientation. This is not required of you. Honestly, this applies to any LGBTQIA identities – you are not required to know what label you are. Just listen to yourself and trust what yourself is saying, because you know better than everyone who you are.

You are still a ‘proper ace’ if you’re not sure what labels fit you, and you’re still a ‘proper ace’ if your orientation was due to past events, or if you think it might be temporary. It is not a life sentence. It is simply what fits you the most at the time, and sexuality can be fluid as heck.

Most importantly – you are welcome here. You are welcome in LGBTQIA. You’re always free to find one of us in the ace community and ask questions if you’re not sure where you fit or how you feel about your orientation.

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

Nowhere yet as I’ve still gotta get this degree under my belt before I take on any projects, but soon. Soon.

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