I’ve been a fan of Tess Fowler’s work for awhile, I really liked her run on Rat Queens, and I’m looking forward to seeing her work on Wonder Woman ’77 but I didn’t realize until a recent conversation twitter, just how outspoken she was about the issues of diversity and inclusion within the comic book industry. (She goes in, y’all!) As a pan/queer female comic artist who is now working pretty regularly in the industry, hers is a perspective that I was really interested in. If you are a female artist or writer trying to make your mark in comics, I think much of what Tess is talking about will resonate with you. Enjoy!
TBG: What made you decide to become an artist?
I never had a choice. I was making art while still riding around in strollers. My brain was hard wired for it and I never had any other notion. I was born an artist. Literally.
Pursuing comics as a career was a dream for me when I was small. I didn’t think I had much of a chance until I found Elfquest at 13. That set me officially on the path.
It became real for me when I saw Chasing Amy on video. A woman making comics as a career choice? There it was. Someone made a movie about it so it had to be real right? As a teenager, it was the closest thing I had in the world to an affirmation of destiny. Yes I realize that movie has its problems, but at the time it was wonderful for me.
TBG: How do you work? Digitally? On paper first?
I am strictly a traditional artist. Though I have just recently started teaching myself to color digitally. I work on Bristol with brush, ink and brush pens/technical pens.
TBG: What are some of the things you’re tired of hearing about the comic book industry?
I’m tired of hearing that certain books, people and companies are progressive when they’re clearly not. One black character in a team of white faces does not equal diversity for me. One gay character you kill off halfway thru a book, in a sea of straight ones who stay alive, does not show me representation. A straight white man writing a supposedly feminist book that turns out to (surprise) not actually have feminist content, does not show me you know what feminism is.
And your staff being almost entirely made up of straight white men does not show me you have any kind of investment in true progress.
I need better from mainstream comics.
TBG: What do you feel is the state of diversity in comics today both in terms of characters and creators?
Sadly, sorely lacking. Is it better than its ever been?
Are we still 85% stuck in Mad Men 60s territory?
TBG: Do you have any advice for indie female artists trying to break in?
There is very little mainstream comics can do for you that you can’t do for yourself with the internet, Patreon and/or Kickstarter. Your audience exists and you can find them on your own. Be innovative. Be loud. The world of comics needs you yesterday. Come one come all.
TBG: What are you excited about right now? (Doesn’t have to be comics)
Working on self-publishing my comic The Rascals. That’s got all my fires lit right now.
TBG: Please name 5 underrated artists or writers who are out right now.
1.) Eva Cabrera and Claudia Aguirre of Boudika Comics
2.) Ashley A. Woods
3.) Naomi Franquiz
4.) Nick Robles
5.) Morgan Perry