When Stephanie Williams decided to run a Kickstarter for her new fan comic project, Living Heroes with artist O’Neill Jones, she could never have imagined it’d be fully funded in just 24 hours. As a huge fan of Steph’s webcomics, comics criticism, and general online presence, I quizzed her about her newest project, her journey to becoming a meme queen, how it feels to have her first Kickstarter funded in near record time, and why people should keep supporting the project!
You’re one of my favorite comic book fans/theorists/writers. Could you talk about your journey to becoming such a massive comic book fan?
I first got into comics thanks to my older brother. I was a huge fan of the X-Men thanks to the animated series and the video games already. My brother had a copy of Uncanny X-Men, the issue with Storm in her iconic white suit kissing Forge on the cover and I ruined it from my fingerprints. LOL. It was a wrap after that. There was never a time I didn’t try to sneak a comic in the shopping cart whenever we would go grocery shopping with my mom. Archie digest became a huge staple in my comic reading catalog.
You’re most well known for your insightful comic book criticism and skill as a meme maker. Could you talk about that part of your career and life and how you built it?
I really enjoyed livetweeting TV shows and movies. I feel like it changes the way you engage with what you’re watching. Sometimes for the better, like you’re either paying attention or you’re not. For me, it helped me digest what I was watching better because I was thinking my thoughts aloud and then typing them out. Also, I’m a huge fan of Mystery Science Theater kind of commentary. So, I figure why not do the same with comics.
I’m always reading older comics, and a lot of time because well you know how comics can be, you sometimes end up staring at a page in disbelief. Like wow, I can’t believe this was actually allowed to happen lol. I find that it’s been a great way to interact with people MOST of the time, and also connect with others in ways I never considered before. It was just a really fun way for me to interact with people online. My entire Twitter persona is literally me 24/7, and I love that I’ve been able to do whatever this is I’m doing by being my genuine self.
Living Heroes cover – Art by O’Neill Jones
When did you decide you wanted to make comics?
A couple of years back when Ed Williams reached out to me about co-writing a character he created named Braxton for Mayke comics. That was like my first real crack at doing something on the creator side of comics. However, it wasn’t until late last year I decided to go off on my own and put out a webcomic. Well two of them lol.
Your first series Parenthood Activate! reminded me of some of your hilarious Twitter threads about being a parent. Could you talk about the process of deciding to actually make it into a comic?
I was always sharing little things my child did or just something funny about parenting and those tweets would really get a lot of engagement. I finally wised up and found the courage to do exactly what I was already doing on Twitter but make it into a webcomic. Parenthood Activate! is one the best things I could have started. It’s my baby lol. I never run out of material because of it’s so very much my life. I feel like it helped build my confidence as a storyteller.
Could you talk to the drive to make Living Heroes? It seems like the perfect distillation of your humor and fandom but I’m really interested to know more about your process of coming up with the idea and actually making it.
One thing I love to do, and I do this often on Twitter, is tweet about regular everyday things that comic characters probably deal with. I like seeing them in mundane situations. Something as simple as trying to get a PTO request for much needed time off. Living Heroes is pretty much that. I love the show, and I like how the setting allowed the show to really focus on their friendship. I rarely ever seen this particular group of super heroines interact altogether, separately at times, but never altogether. I wanted to play around with what that would look like, Something like a Marvel Divas but more intimate and Blacker, She-Hulk aside. Plus, the idea of a sitcom style comic really appealed to me.
Living Heroes character designs – Art by O’Neill Jones
Lots of people read webcomics but likely don’t know much about how they actually get made. Could you give a little insight into your process and what goes into putting these out on a regular basis?
Of course. I reached out to an artist I admired named Sarah A. Macklin. I pitched the idea of Parenthood Activate! to her and she was instantly on board. From there we worked out a mutual contract. I went ahead and purchased the domain for the name to make a website because I wasn’t sure if I would post to WEBTOON, which I totally do now by the way. After all of the business aspects were taken care of, I just started writing the scripts.
At the time, House of X had just been released. I bought the directors cut which included the scripts Hickman wrote. I literally looked at how he structured his scripts for reference. Not knowing how to start gets in my way often so something as small as seeing his scripts really helped alleviate me going back and forth with what the hell to do. I give Sarah one to two scripts as they come which is usually every other week now. It’s key to find an artist you have really good synergy with. It just makes the entire experience more enjoyable for everyone.
What’s your biggest dream for Living Heroes?
Honestly, for it to catch the attention of someone who can crack a door open just enough for me to make my way in. I’m hungry and I work my ass off. I just need a chance.
What’s been your favorite part of creating the comic so far?
Getting the sketches back from the artist. As a writer you can only do so much, so to see how someone turns your ideas into something you can actually look at instead of imagining is such a beautiful experience to me. I’m grateful to the artists I’ve worked with so far because each of them has been able to do just that but in their own way. It’s magical, honestly.
Living Heroes page – Art by O’Neill Jones, written by Stephanie Williams
Now that Kickstarter is fully funded–CONGRATS–could you talk a little about the stretch goals you’ve got set up and why fans should keep supporting now that the comic is fully funded?
I’m still floored the Kickstarter campaign was fully funded in less than two days. It’s surreal. I could have never expected something like this to happen. I was expecting to spam everyone everyday for a full 30 days but now I can focus on stretch goals and possibly adding new ones. As of right now scandalized Deadpool stickers will be given to all backers who donated to $15 and up tiers. If we reach 15K then printed copies of this fan comic will be available for those who pledged $25 and up tiers. There might be a Namor enamel pin added to the mix but I’ll update backers and everyone else if we happen to surpass 15K.
Are you worried Marvel might send you a cease and desist lol, and if they do see the comic what would you want to say to them??
I am! Like I see other Kickstarters that have gotten funded using their licensed characters or someone else’s. So, I’m like maybe I’ll be okay. If that happened though I would let them know straight up I meant no harm but I’m such a huge fan and I just wanted to share my love for these characters in my own creative way.
You can support Living Heroes right now!