The Women of ‘Dirty Diamonds’ Shine a Light on ‘Beauty’ for Latest Anthology [Back Pages]
Based in Philadelphia, the all-female Dirty Diamonds comics collective has spent the last few years putting out a series of anthologies filled with real-life, autobiographical stories centered around a single theme each time. Past anthologies have been on the topics "alcohol" or "jobs", for example, with open submission calls sent out for female writers/artists to submit their pitches.
It's been a tremendous success so far, to the extent that editors Claire Folkman and Kelly Phillips are this year bringing out anthology number six for Dirty Diamonds. Six! This time the theme is "Beauty", and the pair have now come to Kickstarter to fund the print run. To find out more --- and to share a look at some of the comics that will be featured --- ComicsAlliance spoke to Kelly and Claire about the project.
ComicsAlliance: what’s the basic premise of the anthology?
Claire Folkman/Kelly Phillips: Dirty Diamonds is an all-girl comic anthology that features semi-autobiographical comics from women all over the world. We focus on a single theme for each issue, so we try to choose themes that are broad, universal, and open to as wide a range of interpretations as possible. Through our online open call for submissions, we have received some of our most diverse, unexpected, and exciting responses yet to the theme for the upcoming issue: Beauty!
CA: What was the genesis of the project? How long has Dirty Diamonds been running?
CF/KP: [We] met in 7th grade cartooning club, and after a lot of unimportant stuff like growing up and college, we realized we both still had a very real love for comics. We discovered Drink & Draw Like a Lady, an event held every year the night before MoCCA Fest in NYC (originally run by Lucy Knisley), and that’s where we really saw the female comics community in action for the first time.
There were so many amazing girls making so many amazing comics --- and in contrast, we were seeing anthology after anthology being released that featured a disproportionate number of guys over girls. We saw an opportunity to not only print awesome comics by awesome ladies, but also a chance to publish the work of some of the best people we know. It’s been so rewarding to get to gather the work of so many women all in one place!
CA: What was it about this project that made you want to put it together?
CF/KP: In previous issues, we’ve had relatively straight-forward themes (alcohol, jobs, travel, break-ups), but this has been our most abstract theme to date. It was a surprisingly tough theme to wrap our heads around. We saw it as a challenge for the ladies who would be submitting their comics to the book, and for us as the ones curating an anthology that would be tackling a topic that is constantly talked about in regards to women.
We were interested in seeing how we all define beauty and what beauty means to us; to really understand what is important to these women around this subject. We were blown away by the array of responses and approaches we got - from struggles with your hair, to skateboarding, to seeing the Milky Way, to gargoyles!
CA: How did you find people to join you for the anthology? Who'll be part of the project?
CF/KP: For every issue, we do an open call for submissions online. We post anywhere and everywhere we can to spread the word as far as we can! We love discovering new artists, and seeing work from some of the same women issue after issue. It’s a very organic way for us to make people aware of Dirty Diamonds (the comics community is great about that sort of thing) and what we’re all about.
For this book, we have over 50 contributors (most of which are first-timers), and they all range from established cartoonists (Carey Pietsch of Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift), to award-winning artists (Galen Dara, Hugo Award winner), to freelancers, to college students, to total comics newbies. We also have an incredible cover by the always brilliant Carolyn Nowak (Lumberjanes)! Everyone’s comics complement each other amazingly, and they create a fascinating dialogue throughout the book. We feel so lucky that people continue get excited about what we’re trying to do!
CA: Why take this to Kickstarter?
CF/KP: Kickstarter has quickly become a go-to tool for comics publishing. It gives lots of creators an opportunity to do more than they could on their own, and we’re no exception. We’ve come a long way from sitting in front of a photocopier for hours on end, and Kickstarter allows us to produce the professional-level book these comics deserve. Most importantly, raising funds on Kickstarter allows us to pay each of our contributors in the book. With a huge chunk of the funding goal dedicated towards compensation, this is an opportunity for backers to directly support women in comics in a very real way.
The campaign also serves as a way for us to get the word out about the issue and generate excitement around our project; Kickstarter is a great marketing tool, and we want as many people as possible to see what these ladies have made!
CA: What stage are you at with the project? How much have you already completed?
CF/KP: All the comics are in, and once we put the book layout together, we are ready to go to print! We’ve even commissioned special splash pages to delineate the various sections of the book, each featuring a unique approach to what “beauty” means. Right now, we’re about a third of the way to our goal, so it’s up to the Kickstarter and comics communities to help make this issue a reality!
CA: If you achieve your goal, what’s your estimated delivery on the final anthology?
CF/KP: We will be debuting the book at this year’s Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD (Sept. 19-20), and we plan to start shipping books and rewards in the fall with the hopes of having everything in backers’ hands by December 2015 --- just in time for the holidays!