Just about anything with Emma Frost looking her diva best is going to make me pause, which is how I stumbled upon Chris Panda. Continue scrolling through the French comic book artist’s Twitter feed or website and you’ll find many more comic fashion gems — all of which will be available in the second volume of Kicking Ass & Wearing Heels, an art book that combines his admiration of superheroes with his love of fashion. Superhero outfits can often leave something to be desired, but it’s also nice to see our favourite heroes (and villains) out of their skintight suits. In the first volume of what I personally hope will be a continuing series, the characters got to let their hair down and get casual. Now, they are glamming it up on the red carpet. The Kickstarter for volume two is live and has already reached its initial funding goal, which means it’s time to look at stretch goals, including A4 prints and paper dolls.
You list Linda Carter’s Wonder Woman, Chun Li, and Lum Invader as characters who instilled in you a love for badass women. Where does your passion for fashion stem from? Who or what are your influences in the fashion world?
It is hard to put an exact date or even try to remember when fashion started to be a passion for me, but to start to explain it I have to say firstly that I’m French, and in France, fashion and high fashion are very present in the everyday life (on TV, newspaper, magazine, advertising and even the street etc etc… fashion is everywhere here). I recall as a child or teenager that each fashion season got a three to four minute display on TV each night after the news, featuring each creator presenting their creation for the fashion week, and I remember always being in awe in front of the TV. Since then, I continue to follow what’s happen in the fashion world and now that I married a fashion make-up artist, my house is full of fashion magazines like Vogue, so the inspiration is always at my disposal. As for what influences me it is really hard to say, as I try to get my inspiration from so many creators, magazine or books. But if I have to give one or two names, I’m gonna say Alexander McQueen and Yohji Yamamoto, but they are more like my favorite more than my main influence.
The first book in your series featured superheroes getting a little more casual than their usual saving the world attire. This time you’re taking it to the red carpet. Are there any real life celebrity red carpet designs that have inspired some of the looks you’ve created here?
The red carpet idea for the second volume of Kicking Ass & Wearing Heels came to me after seeing Evan Rachel Wood, Janelle Monáe, and Ruth Negga rocking the 2017 Golden Globe Red Carpet. They literally blew me away, and the idea popped in my head. What would Catwoman, Wonder Woman, or Jean Grey wear for an award evening to walk a red carpet? So if you recall what Evan Rachel Wood was wearing, that’s what inspired me for my fashion Catwoman. Same for Storm, whose cape outfit had been inspired by something Janelle Monae had worn during the Met Gala. And there are a lot of other characters that have been inspired by real life celebrity.
Prior to jumping into the world of comics, you were a freelance illustrator. What kind of illustrative work did you do before? How does it compare to your comic focus now?
My illustrative work was a mix of magazine illustration, advertising illustration, brand research work, and a lot more. It was a lot of unpublished work and it was not always my kind of favorite work since there were a lot of rules to follow and not much time nor space for creativity. That’s why out of nowhere and without experience I decide to dedicate my time to comic books. And it’s a decision I will never regret, even if it’s even more hard to get published and find job, in term of creation is the best job in the world for me.
Aside from work on comics for IDW Publishing, you’ve also successfully kickstarted your own comic, Wonderland Resistance. How is the series going?
For me, as long as I was able to print it, Wonderland Resistance was already a success. It’s a story I had in me for two years and that I reworked in my free time since. The first issue is already written and now I just need to find time, once Kicking Ass & Wearing Heels Volume 2 is finished, to draw the second issue and do a second Kickstarter to try to finance it. I got big plans for Alice and all the universe I created around those characters and I hope the people are gonna follow and I will have the chance to produce more issues.
Check out Chris Panda’s Kicking Ass & Wearing Heels Volume 2 Kickstarter for more details!