Webcomic Profile: Emily of The Blue Valkyrie

Emily Riesbeck (scripter), David Mitchell (artist), and Tina Vasquez (editor)

I’m always on the lookout for a great webcomic to add to my watchlist, so I was super excited when someone told me about The Blue Valkyrie. So far, issue one and the first page of issue two have been released, but it’s scheduled to post new pages biweekly. The story so far is about Chloe, a young transwoman who lives with her politically active girlfriend and is a superhero. So far, it’s awesome. Topics in the story have ranged from gentrification to harassment to gender. The first issue introduces the beginning of the hero’s powers and a believable villain (or two).

Recently, I got to chat with the creator and writer Emily Riesbeck about this awesome project.

Emily Riesbeck (scripter), David Mitchell (artist), and Tina Vasquez (editor)Who else is involved in making The Blue Valkyrie?

I am the writer, David Mitchell is the artist, and Tina Vasquez is the editor. Corianne Wells colored pages two and three for us, but unfortunately we did not have the money for more pages to be colored, so David colored the cover and pages one, four, and five.

I went to school for Journalism, actually, though creative writing has been a hobby of mine since high school.

What was the first moment you knew you wanted to get into making comics?

Well, when I was a kid, I used to draw my own comics all the time. In high school, I did the same, but this was always just things I found funny/amusing to show my friends and family. I’ve had (awful) ideas for years on comics I’ve wanted to make, and some of them I even wrote.

How long have you been working on The Blue Valkyrie?

I started thinking about it during the summer of 2013. I met David that fall and we worked on it together since then.

How much revision do you do before publishing/uploading?

Issues one and two are a special case in that I did quite a number of drafts over the month. Originally, the two issues were one, but we decided it was getting a little long and split it. So those issues went through a ton of major changes, including major visual changes to certain pages. Now that we’re on a schedule that will be a bit harder, but issue three (which I am currently writing) has already gone through a draft and is being entirely redone.

I think you’ve created something absolutely amazing and important. When did the idea for TBV come to you? How did you come up with the title/Chloe’s superhero name?

Aw, shucks, thanks! This may sound clichéd, but the main draw for The Blue Valkyrie was that I loved superheros, but I didn’t see any heroes who were like me. I remember specifically that soon after I started reading print comics regularly, the character Alysia in Gail Simone’s Batgirl had come out as trans. I thought that was very cool, but I wished it could have been a superhero instead of a superhero’s roommate. Not that she wasn’t a pretty super roommate.
As far as the name goes, I actually developed what Chloe’s powers would be before I came up with a name. I liked the idea of a blue aura or glow around the hero. Originally, I wanted to call her Fury Girl, but that’s been done before and it didn’t really “pop,” and “fury” doesn’t really fit a blue-theme. “The Shieldmaiden” was another that I had toyed with, until I decided I liked Valkyrie better. “Blue” fit the idea I had for her costume, and the “adjective noun” format is popular for a reason. I liked “The Blue Valkyrie” because it was a little corny, had a silver-agey ring.  I like corny.

Emily Riesbeck (scripter), David Mitchell (artist), and Tina Vasquez (editor)What is the best compliment you’ve received on your work?

One time, someone told me that my comic was “absolutely amazing and important.” That one was pretty good. Another good one, a writer I really admire told me that it was a “grand first attempt,” which was really exciting. My mom also says she thought it was cool. Thanks, mom!

Are you planning on eventually printing the comic?

That’s a bit complicated. We’d love to eventually do a print run of issue one, and subsequent issues if people express interest. Most likely, we will have print copies of the first issue (and potentially issue two) next year as we try to do some festivals/conventions. Originally we planned to do the whole thing in print but publishing online was just more feasible.

Who are the artists you most admire?

As far as writers go, I am a h-u-g-e Gail Simone fan, as well as Annie Mok (her art as well is fabulous). For art, I adore Leila del Duca. Also: Gerard Way, Hayao Miyazaki, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Imogen Binnie, Alice Walker, and Stephen King.

I am also a huge Simone fan, and a super loyal King fan. What webcomics do you read?

Right now, I regularly read Manic Pixie Nightmare Girl, The Dream Argument, To Catch A Dream Eater, and a few others. I don’t read as many anymore, although at a time I would check ten different comics a day for updates.

I used to be a big fan of Order of the Stick, which was funny because back when I was really into it I had never even played Dungeons and Dragons, although now that I DO play DnD, yet I don’t read OOTS anymore. I also liked Sister Claire a lot, but haven’t kept up with it.

Emily Riesbeck (scripter), David Mitchell (artist), and Tina Vasquez (editor)
One of my favorite pages.

What’s Chloe’s favorite drink?

Non-alcoholic: Root beer. Alcoholic: 7&7.

Do you have any advice for people who want to get into writing comics?

The most important thing I had to learn myself was that my writing doesn’t have to be “important” and that I didn’t have to be the next James Joyce for my writing to be valuable. Write what you love. If what you love is high art then that’s great. If what you love is trashy lesbian werewolves kissing then that’s also great, as long as it’s something you care about (I’m gonna write a comic about lesbian werewolves kissing sometime, just so you know).

Lesbian werewolves is all I want. Can you give me any spoilers for TBV? I’m dying to know what happens next!

Chloe and Alice walk around Dublin in great detail and there’s a chapter about farts.

I look forward to some excellent fart jokes. What’s the best way fans can support you?

We are working on getting a Patreon set up for people who want to monetarily support us. [Editor’s Note: The Patreon is now available here.] We would love to be able to do The Blue Valkyrie as our job, but obviously that’s a long ways away. Aside from that, the best thing people can do is telling other people to read it. We’ve relied entirely on word-of-mouth so far and will continue to do so! We really appreciate all the nice things people have said so far and every reader counts! We love y’all!

Read the webcomic here.
Emily’s Tumblr
Emily’s Twitter handle: @thebluevalkyrie
The Blue Valkyrie Patreon
David Mitchell’s Twitter handle: @djmcomics
David’s website
Tina Vasquez’s Twitter handle: @TheTinaVasquez
Tina’s Patreon is here
Corianne Wells’s Twitter handle: @coriannewells
Al Rosenberg

Al Rosenberg

Gay weirdo. Talk to them about tiny games, big books, trash, and all things illness.