Queer Comics Anthology ‘Oath’ Hopes To Shape the Future of Superheroes [Back Pages]
Kickstarter has really proven that the number of new, eager, ready comics writers and artists has been booming over the last few years. The number of anthologies and projects with a specific focus on those who don't usually get featured over at 'mainstream' publishers has been staggering, with each week bringing an array of fresh talent into the world of comics.
One of the most recent is Oath, a queer comics anthology masterminded by Audrey Redpath. The anthology consists entirely of queer comics talent telling LGBT superhero stories. Featuring a host of new and established writers and artists, the book has already hit its funding target --- but it still has stretch goals to reach in its closing days.
We spoke to Redpath about how the project came about, what readers can expect from the stories, and how Kickstarter has helped bring new comics storytelling into existence. She also shared some exclusive pages from Oath.
ComicsAlliance: What’s the basic premise of Oath as an anthology?
Audrey Redpath: It’s a collection of brand new LGBT superhero stories, exclusively by queer artists and writers.
CA: What was the genesis of the project? How long have you wanted to get this up and running?
AR: I’ve wanted something like this for a while! Oath was born as a project on my Twitter, and my community feed Queer Comics. I’ve always wanted to write superhero comics, and failing to find people like me in the comics I loved growing up until now has always been a frustration. I found the representation I was looking for in the indie queer comic scene, but it’s never diminished what I saw very clearly as the future of superhero comics.
Oath would’ve never become more than an idea if it weren’t for the guidance of two friends and experts: Taneka Stotts (Beyond Anthology) and Isabelle Melançon (Valor Anthology), who have gone through this process with their own books before. Oath went from submissions in late winter to a nearly finished book in July, ready to pursue funding, thanks to their advice and the hard work of everyone contributing.
CA: Your campaign page very clearly states that you want this to be a place to really emphasize new voices in queer comics. What do you think is the importance of having projects like Oath, broadcasting that message?
AR: There’s something exceptional about queer comics specifically that makes successfully entering into it --- and making money for your work --- a special experience, I think. It reminds other young creators and people who might be struggling with their identity like many of us were that they can make a living off their work.
Just as important; I think creating spaces that encourage new queer voices to speak up and get paid for their work reinforces the idea that work with queer themes and characters is just as valuable as any other.
New voices like Jenn St-Onge, Allison Page, and Jon Erik Christianson will make their published comic debut in Oath, and with a bang. Their stories and styles are unique, so I hope backers will give them a warm welcome.
CA: How did you find people to join you for the anthology? Who'll be part of the project?
AR: To get people involved, I invited a few teams and friends of mine that I thought would be a great fit for the concept and then had open submissions for anyone who wanted to pitch a comic. The submission round was out of control, and really inspiring. I spent a month digging through nearly three hundred comic pitches from new and pro creators.
Oath has a huge team, and the talent pool is really varied. A few of our creators were deeply involved in moving superhero and queer comics forward before the anthology was around, like K Van Dam and Adriana Ferguson who publish the superhero webcomic Minor Acts of Heroism, and previously S.T.O.P.
Contributor Alex Law is the mastermind behind Little Girls Are Better At Designing Superheroes Than You. Mildred Louis’ Agents of the Realm puts action and women’s romance at the center of a magical girl story, and Blue Delliquanti’s execution of her queer family sci-fi comic O Human Star makes her (in my opinion) one of the most unique storytellers in indie comics.
CA: Why take this to Kickstarter?
AR: That’s easy! Kickstarter is flexible. Fundraising for the book means we can see how many people are interested in our goals, and it opens the book to a community before it’s even printed. Backers become just as much a part of the book’s mission as those of us in it, and their feedback and support can shape the final product.
Since Kickstarter allows me to publish the book myself, instead of trying to find the perfect fit in an outside publisher who takes a portion of the earnings and doesn’t pay upfront, I can make sure every contributor is paid for their work.
CA: What stage are you at with the anthology? How much has already been completed?
AR: Almost all of the comics that will be in the final book are 100% done. A few comics are still being worked on, and we might slip in a few surprises for readers, but there isn’t a year of work between now and the final book. By having the book nearly ready to go when we launched our campaign, we can continue to show finished art previews. Post-Kickstarter, we’ll be just be barreling into finishing what’s left, preparing our files, and getting the book printed and shipped off to backers.
CA: Should you achieve your goal, what’s your estimated delivery on the final anthology?
AR: I’m aiming for a safe release at the beginning of February 2016! Should everything go according to plan, I’m hoping to surprise backers with early deliveries.
The Oath Kickstarter runs until this Wednesday, September 16, and has reached the funding target of $23,000. You can pledge here to help it reach its stretch goals.