Class, Comics, Design, Diversity, Gender, Interviews, LGBTQ, Race, Religion, Sexuality, Webcomics

Bug Girl: An Interview with The Last Cowboy’s Zoe Coughlin

Space. Aliens. Diverse women. Beautiful art. In The Last Cowboy, I’ve found one of my new favorite webcomics, AND I got to chat about it with the creator, Zoe Coughlin.

The Last Cowboy by Zoe Coughlin webcomicSo, Zoe, what’s your artistic background?

I’ve been drawing since I was a kid and took lessons on and off all through elementary, middle, and high school. I loved reading newspaper comics as a kid and would always draw my own newspaper comics, usually about cats or some other cute animal. One time, I decided to just directly copy Foxtrot, except I made the characters into literal foxes. At least I thought it was funny, I guess.

In middle school, I got heavy into manga, which may or may not have been a good thing. Some favorites of mine were Astro Boy and Azumanga Daioh. I still love anything by Osamu Tezuka, and he’s probably been one of my biggest influences.

I always knew I wanted to draw for a living, and after making some frustrating attempts at animation, I realized comics were more my thing. I graduated with a degree in sequential art from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in 2013. Now, I draw my comics while working a day job on a food truck.

The Last Cowboy by Zoe Coughlin webcomicOne, food trucks are my happy places. Two, I want to see these newspaper comics! (Foxtrot with foxes sounds adorable.) When did you first start working on The Last Cowboy?

I started The Last Cowboy in summer of 2012, just before finishing up at SCAD. At the time I was anxious about graduating and wanted some sort of project to keep me working after school had finished. I wanted to make a story with the kinds of characters you don’t normally see in science fiction and play with some of the themes I like the most in the genre.

I think you have definitely created some diverse characters. You really don’t often get to see heavier scientists, or queer women, or women of color in sci-fi, and you’ve given them all a home. Who is your favorite character to draw?

The Last Cowboy by Zoe Coughlin webcomicIt’s a toss-up between Eve and Gabeross! Eve is kind of like my baby so drawing her always makes me happy. Gabeross is pretty silly looking, being a giant birdalien and all, and it’s fun to design his outfits every time he appears. All of my characters have something fun about them that I like drawing, so pretty much every page I’m like, “Oh boy, I get to draw Adsila’s arms,” or, “Yay, I get to draw Luna’s hair.”

Speaking of Gabeross, this is one of my favorite pages. What was your inspiration for other spiritualities?

The Ovidran religion is mainly polytheistic and inspired by mixture of Hinduism, Paganism, and Ancient Egyptian mythology. Ovidra don’t really believe in a literal interpretation of their religion and see it more as a series of lessons and a part of their culture. I feel like that’s the direction religion is heading in generally, at least here in the states, so I thought it would be interesting to include something like that in The Last Cowboy.
The other species have various religions, which I’ve never really gotten into. Melisians/Greys have this weird thing going on with the space whales, which is something I’d like to explore in another story.

The Last Cowboy by Zoe Coughlin webcomicIt is interesting, and I love the way it’s explained in the comic. So, The Last Cowboy has been going strong for a while now; how do you keep on schedule?

I just try to draw whenever I have a free moment. My day job keeps me busy sometimes, but I try to set a goal for each day. Something like, “I will pencil one page today,” and then the next day it’s, “Okay, now to ink that page I penciled yesterday.” I keep a calendar on my desk right next to my computer and check off everything as I finish it, a habit I developed in school that’s still really great for keeping me on track.

I’m always on the lookout for more webcomics to read when I should be working. What are your favorite webcomics?

Right now I love Gunnerkrigg Court, Monster Pulse, and Poppy O’Possum! But I have a really bad habit of forgetting about the comics I’m reading and not checking them for months.

Me too! It’s hard to keep track of them, but when you return after months away it’s nice to have a bunch of pages to catch up on. Advice for those just getting into making webcomics?

Draw your comic. Just do it. Draw it and put it on the Internet. Know where you’re headed, but don’t get bogged down in planning your story for years and years and then never actually make it.

Thank you so much for talking with me! I look forward to watching more of the space drama unfold. Get more ofThe Last Cowboy, and Zoe’s work on Patreon, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, DeviantArt, and IndyPlanet.