By: Nicole D’Andria
The KITH + KIN anthology features 10 stories, each drawn by different artists, that’s a mishmash of Frankenstein and Big Fish! Hear all about the monsters that lurk inside us all from writers Brittany Matter (Marvel.com) and Heather Ayres (IMAGE+) and their GoFundMe campaign.
One of the stories, SPITTING IMAGE, is already completed with artist Sally Cantirino taking up the art duties. The editing process has also started and includes me and David Brothers.
Matter and Ayres will be using the proceeds from GoFundMe (and an upcoming Kickstarter in March) to hire collaborators to help design the cover and logo, to edit the scripts, cover additional marketing costs and the upfront costs of self-publishing KITH + KIN. Check out their GoFundMe campaign here.
Without further ado, here is an in-depth interview about the anthology process and KITH + KIN from Heather Ayres and Brittany Matter!
Me: How did the idea for the anthology initially come about?
Heather Ayres: Brittany and I have been editing one another’s work for years. Us working on writing a project together seemed like a no brainer and honestly, way overdue. The thing that really spurred us to do something on our own was getting rejected from yet another anthology, I think it was?
Brittany Matter: So many rejections, I can’t keep track anymore! Afterward, feeling motivated to keep moving forward, we brainstormed how to share our emotionally-driven tales with the world. While we discussed a bunch of different themes, the one we kept going back to surrounded the complicated nature of family relationships—whether they be blood bonds or chosen ones.
Me: When describing Kith + Kin, why did you feel Frankenstein and Big Fish were the best works to compare the anthology to?
HA: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of my all-time favorite books. More than the monster horror, I had been drawn to the rejection that happens over and over again within the Frankenstein family. The deep-rooted examination of family in Frankenstein seemed akin to the theme of how monsters show themselves within our own families.
BM: When Heather mentioned Frankenstein as a comparison, I think I yelled, “YES!” in response. As for Big Fish, its fringe theme of regret that accompanies the notion of family members divided related well to our concept. Its messages about life, from growing up and leaving home to forgiveness and facing loss, spoke to the more universal human experiences within KITH + KIN.
Me: As you are both writers on the anthology, what did the collaboration process look like between the two of you?
HA: I think we were really lucky to already have a rapport as editors for one another. We took a hybrid approach going back and forth between writing scripts individually and live scripting over FaceTime.
BM: We dove right in! The hybrid method allowed us to get a lot done in a short amount of time. I would say that it looked like an organized mix of planning, sometimes throwing out the plan as the stories evolved, and encouraging each other to do right by the characters.
Me: What methods did you use to find your artists for the project?
HA: We predominantly used Twitter, which I mean, how could you not? We also took a deep dive into Milkfed’s #VisibleWomen hashtag and spreadsheet. We came at the whole process with the mind that we wanted to work with a diverse group of people so that our stories felt real for as many people as possible.
BM: Other go-to hashtags that we used on Twitter included #PortfolioDay, #DrawingWhileBlack, and #LatinxsCreate. When it came to searching for interior artists, we also looked for sequential art in people’s portfolios. We also found Creator Resource’s Creator Databases immensely helpful—it contains links to Cartoonists of Colour and Queer Cartoonists Databases, both maintained by MariNaomi. Piggy-backing off of what Heather said, we used all these resources to purposefully seek out diverse voices to reflect the reality around us.
Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?
HA: Don’t give up! Your favorite writers have been rejected more times than they can count and most of them didn’t even start out as writers. There is no one path to being a writer. Keep writing, keep building connections, but most important of all–keep living your life. Those experiences you have with other people will inform your writing and make it all the more rich and relatable.
BM: Read comics! Review comics! Study comics! Follow and talk with creators that inspire you and learn from them. Read PanelxPanel, a digital magazine dedicated to celebrating comics. All these things can lead to finding or creating a community, and making comics sometimes takes a village. Also, study other aspects of the comic-book creation process, like lettering and coloring, to get a good sense of those roles and how to best write for them. Comics are a team sport, so be a good team member. Also, write, writing helps.
Me: What words of advice do you have for people trying to create an anthology?
HA: I think the biggest takeaways for me when looking at this whole experience are to take it slow and not take it too seriously. Comics are about connecting with the world around and expressing your creativity. It’s not about when you get to the finished product, it’s about the people you meet along the way and how that will inform your path as an independent creator throughout the rest of your career.
BM: Research! Heather and I researched all aspects of book production in tandem with writing the scripts. Mentally prepare yourself that it’ll take a lot of time and effort, and wear multiple hats. Things won’t go the way you expect and be ready to adapt to change. Be thoughtful of other people’s timelines, and always pad your schedule—more and more, I find myself saying, “Where did the time go!?” So in that regard, remember that everything takes longer than expected, and get comfortable asking for help, people will come through.
Me: You finished your first comic, SPITTING IMAGE, last September. What can you tell us about the story and the inspiration behind it?
BM: We were fascinated by a lot of lore surrounding twins and took the opportunity to explore it in SPITTING IMAGE. This story follows immortal twins, Natalia and Olenka, through their life in photographs as seen on almost every wall of their Victorian-style house. We decided to tell their story through these pictures to show them growing up and doing everything together while asking and answering the questions: What would it be like to be tethered to someone for centuries? How long would it take for you to want to be free of them?
HA: I think we all have people in our lives that we feel suck the life out of us. This story is an extension of that just amped up and framed by supernatural circumstances. What if that person really did suck the life out of you? What would it look like for them when you were gone? Would it have been worth it?
Me: What aspects can people enjoy in SPITTING IMAGE that they can also enjoy throughout the anthology?
BM: I think Sally’s high contrasts amplified the mysterious tone of the story, and I think readers will find that the other artists in the book will do the same despite their differing styles. Also, the deliberate pace, the quiet mystery, and the supernatural elements.
HA: There is an eeriness to it. Sally’s work that gets under your skin in the best way and lingers with you long after you’ve finished reading the comic. We worked to find artists that drew similar feelings out with their artwork to make this graphic novel one that hangs out in your subconscious.
Me: What was the experience working with your first artist, Sally Cantirino, like? Why was she the perfect fit for SPITTING IMAGE?
BM: Working with Sally was amazing! Sally’s professionalism and skills went beyond what we could have asked for. We found Sally through her pin-up work for THE NEGATIVES #1, a successfully funded comic on Kickstarter by Rick Quinn and Jacoby Salcedo. Her goth melancholy aesthetic matched well with what we envisioned for SPITTING IMAGE.
HA: I definitely agree. It was so nice to work with someone who seemed made to take on this comic, but also brought a level of professionalism to the process that raised the bar for not only the creators we’re bringing on for the rest of the book but for us as well.
Me: Thanks for sharing your process with us and giving us a taste of KITH + KIN! If you’re reading this and interested in checking out the GoFundMe project, check it out here!
About Brittany and Heather
Bonded by a deep love for storytelling and coffee, Brittany Matter and Heather Ayres are cross-genre writers with a focus on exploring the human condition through a fantastical lens. Their work has been published on Marvel.com, Comic Book Resources, and the award-winning magazine IMAGE+. When not immersed in a graphic novel or writing comics, they can be found on Twitter @brittanymatter and @heathayreswrite.
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