Joamette Gil Summons ‘Power & Magic’ For Queer Witches Everywhere [Back Pages]
Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology is a collection of stories about witches and witchcraft by queer women of color, including Devaki Neogi, Jemma Salume, and Aatmaja Pandya, curated by editor Joamette Gil. Currently running on Kickstarter, the anthology will be published by Gil's Power & Magic Press.
To find out more about this magical project, Back Pages spoke to Gil about how it came about, what readers can expect from the stories, and her future plans for Power & Magic Press.
ComicsAlliance: What’s the basic premise of the anthology?
Joamette Gil: Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology contains 15 comics about queer witches of color as they master their abilities, discover their traditions, and navigate love as beings with incredible power.
CA: What was the genesis of the project? How long have you wanted to get this up and running?
JG: I've been entertaining the thought of organizing a comics anthology for years, but this specific project was conceived in the space of an evening about eight months ago. I also decided then and there that I wanted to be a publisher.
I'm sure it all sounds very spur of the moment; however, to me, it was more like an epiphany resulting from a lifelong desire to make some sort of socioeconomic difference in the world through cartoons (of all things)! My "thing" has always been telling stories that resonate with people from marginalized communities, especially queer people of color who grew up (or currently live) in poverty, which is my own experience. Power & Magic exists because I don't just want to resonate; I want to be materially supportive to others like me.
CA: How did you choose the theme of the anthology, and the central concept?
JG: At first, I just wanted to do a "queer women of color fantasy" anthology, stories about anything under the sun so long as it fell under that genre somehow.
As for how I got that far: those are the types of stories I want to tell anyway. I'm very invested in speculative fiction in general, so the theme was not as important to me as who I wanted to recruit for the project (women of color and any other people of color whose gender identities involved womanhood in some fundamental way), nor was it as important to me as offering a minimum page rate of $100/page (a moderately safe triple-digit number to build a first-ever KS campaign around).
"Witches" occurred to me last-minute before launching the call for submissions, which is hilarious to me because I am obsessed with witches as an archetype, aesthetically and philosophically! It should also be noted that I put up the call on the last day of #WitchsonaWeek. Yes, it was an accident!
CA: How did you find people to join you for the anthology? Who are some of the people involved with the project?
JG: Finding people to join was... pretty easy, actually. Or the easiest part, at least. I basically just asked! The sheer amount of talent among cartoonists of color, even narrowing it down to just women and non-binary cartoonists, is staggering. Every social media space I posted the submission call to responded with immediate enthusiasm, support, and celebration of the idea.
The call was circulated by thousands of people and publications like #BlackComicsMonth, Autostraddle, and BlackNerdProblems. Twitter and Tumblr --- from casual users to industry pros with massive followings --- were on it. The sheer amount of talent among cartoonists of color, even narrowing it down to just women and non-binary cartoonists, is staggering, and because the industry is the way it is right now, the prospect of telling stories about people like us and making rent from it is a rare one.
We have a few seasoned professionals and popular webcomics creators with us on the project, and many are unbelievably gifted cartoonists who I have the honor of publishing for the first time. For instance, we are blessed to count Devaki Neogi among us, artist for the Curb Stomp miniseries from Boom and The Skeptics from Black Mask, as well as Jemma Salume of Overreact and Mouse Guard, and Aatmaja Pandya of Travelogue.
Then there are gems like Nivedita Sekar, whose work I famously declared belongs in every issue of the New Yorker, Naomi Franquiz, Juliette G.M.M. Lopez, Arianne Hokoki, and so many others whose works I'm proud and privileged to show the world.
CA: How important was it to you that the project offer a spotlight for women of color?
JG: One might say it was the whole point, although it was technically half the point. I am just as interested in spotlighting creators and characters who mainstream publishers routinely ignore as I am in creating jobs. Proper and multi-faceted representation is essential to healing our communities; if our most needed storytellers cannot financially afford to continue telling their stories --- our stories --- where does that leave us? And where does that leave them?
CA: We're still at a place where people of color, and queer creators, seem to exist on the periphery of the discussion about comics, and on the outside of most major publishers. Do you feel like Kickstarter has offered a way to move past that stage and give more people a voice?
JG: Absolutely! The advent of platforms like Kickstarter and Patreon has ushered in a Golden Age for the independent cartoonist and small press publishers. There are no gatekeepers anymore, not for creators, and not for this new breed of publisher-editors who want more than anything to do the legwork of putting diverse comics and creators in front of as many eyes as possible --- Sfé R. Monster, Taneka Stotts,Audrey Redpath, etc.
Frankly, I don't even consider the Big Two when I think about comics as a whole --- except for a few stand-out titles like Ms. Marvel and World of Wakanda. They're doing their thing over there while we make revolution over here.
CA: What stage are you at with the book? How much has already been completed?
JG: Aside from two folks polishing off their inks and adding lettering, this anthology is complete. The moment Kickstarter pays out, we're off to the printer!
CA: If you achieve your goal, what’s your estimated delivery on the final project?
JG: January 2017 is our estimated date for receiving the print run and sending those copies back out the door to our supporters! The digital edition of the comic will be available to read for all backers no later than December 2016 and will be available for regular purchase around the same time.
CA: I noticed that this will be published through your own Power & Magic Press. Can you tell us a little more about how you set up the publisher? What are your plans for the future?
JG: Certainly! As I mentioned above, the idea for Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology and Power & Magic Press occurred at about the same time. I want to make a very specific difference through comics, and I knew right away that one book or two would not suffice to make that difference. Beyond issues of representation and lack of opportunities for diverse creators, I am an artist who dreams of a fulfilling, nurturing, and sustainable artistic life.
It's a common dream shared by many creatives: making a living from our passion. It's my sincere goal to help make that happen for anyone adventurous and generous enough to join me on this wild ride! In addition to $100/page minimum, our creators will also receive quarterly royalties for all digital sales and from any future re-prints of the anthology. No, that's not enough, and it will be more for the next title. And even more for the one after that.
My plan for the future is sustenance. It would be premature to name drop any of the other projects currently in development, but know that P&M Press will continue diving deeper into issues of gender identity specifically, and romantic relationships between women of color, over the next couple of years.
Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology will run on Kickstarter until 7th October 2016, seeking a funding target of $33,000. To find out more, check out the Kickstarter page here!