A Super-Villainess Love Story Soars in ‘Gamer Girl & Vixen’ [Back Pages]
With Kickstarter's rise has come a rise in new projects featuring superheroes who sit outside the dynamics you'll find on the Diamond Catalog. Writers and artists have been able to find audiences for superheroes who represent a wider group of readers, and whose experiences mirror those of the new wave of creatives who have come to comics over the last few years.
Gamer Girl & Vixen is a great example of just such a comic, starring a pair of caped villainesses (of sorts) who fall in love with each another, and spur each other on to be better, and to be themselves. The creation of Kristi McDowell and Sean Ian Mills, the comic is illustrated by Gemma Moody, and lettered by Taylor Esposito, and is now seeking funding on Kickstarter for print editions of the first two issues.
We spoke to Kristi and Sean about how the series came about, and why they decided to bring it to Kickstarter.
ComicsAlliance: What’s the basic premise of Gamer Girl & Vixen?
Kristi McDowell: Gamer Girl & Vixen is the story of a young cat-burglar whose identity isn’t the only thing she’s keeping secret, until she meets out and proud Gamer Girl, who empowers her to be the woman she really is.
Sean Ian Mills: It’s about finding that special someone who completes you, and in this case they’re costumed crooks whose ideal first date would be robbing an armored car. It’s Superior Foes of Spider-Man if Boomerang and the Shocker fell in love along the way.
CA: What was the genesis of the project? How long have you wanted to get this comic up and running?
SIM: We’ve been working on Gamer Girl & Vixen for about a year now, though Kristi and I have been writing together for much longer, just on our own for fun. A few years ago, Kristi decided that she wanted to just go for it and become a comic book writer. So she buckled down and wrote and self-published her first comic, A Planet’s Cry, and that was just inspiring to me. Here I was working my 9-to-5, and here Kristi was making comics.
So last summer, I told her I wanted in, and we decided to write a comic together. We started with one of our favorite stories we’d already written and used that as the framework for what eventually became Gamer Girl & Vixen. We’d been working on this story on our own for a long time, and realized it would be perfect as a full-on, publishable comic book.
KMD: Making comics is the most fun, most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. As A Planet’s Cry was being developed, Sean and I were still writing on our own just for fun, and I realized just how silly it was that we weren’t already working together. We have a great chemistry that I think is reflected in our storytelling. As we re-imagined our for-fun writing into something marketable, things just began to fall into place. It’s been about a year since we first started putting it all together.
CA: What was it about this story which made you want to tell it?
KMD: This comic has everything: lesbians, supervillains, and the pinkest pop princess the world has ever seen! Seriously, though, it’s the kind of story I want to read that doesn’t exist anywhere else. We’re blending romance with superheroics, two concepts that aren’t always paired equally in comic books. There are people out there who think that the costumed adventurers can’t manage love lives. I would argue that, without the capacity to love, what makes them super?
SIM: There is this big push for diversity in comics these days, and while we wholeheartedly support it, a lot of the conversation on the Internet gets so negative. Rather than dive into that, I want to actually work towards change. We want to see more diversity in comics, and readers want to see more original female characters and more original queer characters, so we’re going to make it happen. And hopefully people like it.
CA: How did the creative team come together for the project?
SIM: Once Kristi and I had the first issue of Gamer Girl & Vixen scripted, we had to face the awful truth that neither one of us could draw. We knew we needed to hire an artist, so we turned to our old friend the Internet and put up a few ads in all the right places. We got several dozen responses, but Gemma Moody stood out right from the beginning.
KMD: Quite right. Her email in response to our ad was delightfully quirky and eager, two of my favorite adjectives. And while we were weighing options, Gemma sent along what’s still my favorite image of the girls, our first little bit of fan art from the person who would become our artist. After seeing that, I was an instant Gemma Moody fan, and I was determined to have her on the team.
SIM: That fan art just melted my heart. So we scooped Gemma up and I couldn’t be happier. She’s even gotten better since we first hired her, and watching her progress has been a real treat. And there’s no feeling as amazing, for a writer, as watching new finished pages come in.
The last member of our team, Taylor Esposito on lettering, came out of nowhere.
KMD: I’m kind of a big dweeb and have these lists on Twitter, separating the folks I follow into categories: Creators, Publishers, Retailers, and Reviewers (opinions, news, blogs, podcasts, etc). And randomly Taylor messaged me to say that he likes my lists. Cool, right? So later on, this encounter well behind me, when I’m starting to take Gamer Girl & Vixen public, he sends me another direct message, asking about our lettering. After a few more interactions, Taylor offers us his incredible talent. It’s really taken our comic into a whole new stratosphere of beauty.
SIM: As silly amateurs, we had no idea how important lettering can be to a comic. We were going to try to piece it together ourselves, or have Gemma do it. But seeing Taylor’s professional work on our pages changed everything. Now there’s no going back.
CA: Why take this to Kickstarter?
SIM: Kickstarter is a great way to make a splash and get people invested in our comic. If we just wanted to sell the comic, there are plenty of places to do that online. But a Kickstarter campaign is an event, it’s something people can get behind, and that’s what we want most of all. We want people to feel like they’re part of the project, that they’re not just buying the comics, they’re helping to make it happen.
Plus, Kickstarter is a great way to measure our potential fanbase. Are there enough people interested, or can we get enough people interested, to make this comic happen? Can we promote ourselves well enough to get this comic off the ground? Kickstarter will let us know one way or the other when the campaign is over.
KMD: I think Kickstarter is one of the most unique ways of engaging with the audience on a direct level. There’s not just an investment in the story and the art, but there’s an investment in the production of the comic, which isn’t seen in other development options. Every person who pledges to the Kickstarter shows the world in general that these are the kinds of stories we want to have available. It reinforces the desire for diversity in comics in a really measurable way.
CA: What stage are you at with the project? How much have you already completed?
KMD: We have an entire graphic novel written, with chapter one penciled, inked, lettered, and colored. Chapter two, upon successful funding, will be started immediately. Gemma and Taylor are already committed to continuing on. The train is already on the tracks and ready to go; we just need a little boost from our amazing fanbase to get us going.
SIM: Our ultimate goal would be to get the full graphic novel printed, but we’re going to have to be more patient with that. It’s a big, expensive job. For now, we’ve got chapter one ready to go to print as a standalone issue, and chapter two is also long enough to be a stand alone comic. Hopefully we can get people interested.
CA: Should you achieve your goal, what’s your estimated delivery on the final comic?
SIM: We’re hoping to ship the printed comics to everybody by the end of summer. Like Kristi said, the first issue is done and ready to go to the printers. So should we hit our goal, our art team will get to work on issue #2, then we’ll send them both to the printers and get them shipped out to all our backers.
Gamer Girl & Vixen will run on Kickstarter until 15 June 2015, looking for a target of $6075. To find out more, head to their site!