Curious about webcomics and where to start? Get insight from those on the ground floor. Now a significant focal point in terms of queer comics and readership, webcomics have flourished over the last few years as a diverse community. Interested in creators’ perspectives, our intrepid reporter interviewed several at Flame Con 2017, Brooklyn’s annual LGBTQ comics and pop culture convention.
Keezy Young is the creator of the webcomics Yellow Hearts and Taproot, now collected and published by Lion Forge. Her upcoming project is Constellations. She has produced comics for a number of anthologies, including the Beyond Anthology, and is considered a rising star in the webcomics community.
What was the first webcomic you ever read?
It would’ve been a long time ago. I think I actually read Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa, which is not a webcomic, but I read it online. And then I ended up buying it later. So that sort of counts as the first one I read.
After that, I think I read Always Raining Here by Hazel + Bell pretty early on. But I actually haven’t read very many webcomics, honestly! Obviously, I read them more now. But I started making webcomics before I read a lot of them. I was more inspired by manga, I think, and then I found this world of webcomics and thought, “Maybe I can do that!”
So now that you’re reading them more now, what are you reading?
Right now I’m reading everything on SparklerMonthly.com, because that’s the one that’s publishing my webcomic. Nilah Magruder has a really good webcomic called M.F.K. Mildred Louis’s comic Agents of the Realm. Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker’s comic Mooncakes. Oh my gosh, there’s so many! There’s a lot of really good stuff happening right now.
What brought you to webcomics in the first place?
I think it was more just sort of realizing that they existed and sort of being like, I can do this too! Even if I hadn’t read them, I knew that they were out there and started publishing mine. I have trouble sometimes reading comics in my spare time because it feels like work. I start getting hypercritical of my own work and then I want to go fix it and make it better so it’s like halfway inspiring, but it’s also a lot of work.
It was more just realizing that they existed and then coming into this world of amazing work that is a lot of times much better than stuff that’s published in traditional channels.
How do you feel that webcomics helps you express your queerness?
It lets me do whatever I want. There’s no oversight so I don’t have any editor telling me, “you can’t have all of your characters be queer, you can only have one character be queer.” Or “they can’t be queer in this certain way.” They can be a good representation or “you can’t have non-binary characters because it will be confusing to the audience,” sort of thing. So there’s no outside voice having that, but there’s also no inside voice. I can just listen to my desires and be like, I want to do this. It’s fun. It doesn’t matter if the audience is there because it’s for me anyway.
Positive representation is really, really good, but the mainstream idea of positive representation or of marginalized identities is not what people of those identities are actually looking for. I want to do complicated characters and webcomics lets me do that more easily.