Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent launch of your Kickstarter campaign! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the story’s premise?
Kata Kane: What would you do with the Keys to Heaven & Earth? Altar Girl is a shoujo manga-inspired romantic school drama with cute, funny & magical twists. Ashley Altars is an ordinary girl who thought her life at a prestigious private school was tough enough as it was. That is until she realizes her childhood necklace is actually the magical Key of Earth. Through the power of her Key and the Key of Heaven, with assistance from the angelic Gemini Twins Sera and Cherry: Seth Charming has been brought back from his death in 1929 to Ashley Altars' present day. Ashley now has to deal with the machinations of angels & demons on top of typical school drama, but she just wants her crush Adam Evenine to finally notice her.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in balancing both the writing and illustrative duties to bring this story to life?
KK: I do a lot of the writing and outlining up front, to help keep the plot and story as organized as possible. It’s allowed me to look at the story as a whole and the freedom to even re-arrange some plot points that I hope ultimately have made the story stronger and the payoffs richer. The drawing part somehow always comes easier, because maybe I wrote what I wanted, but now I get to visualize those feelings that I was aiming for in my scripts. I start with rough thumbnails to layout the entire chapter, and then do the page layout for the rough pencils before finalizing in inks. Tones and lettering are last; I think I’m still learning a lot in those areas.
BD: What (or who) were some of your creative influences in terms of the characters and tone, especially given the narrative aspects of romance, magic, and more?
KK: Altar Girl is a very manga-inspired story. One of my biggest comics influences is Rumiko Takahashi: most specifically her series, Ranma ½, as well as Inuyasha. I love telling a story that has romance with both humor and dramatic action. As I’ve continued to work on Altar Girl, I realized how much the media I was consuming at the time influenced me. I was 16 when I first came up with the characters and ideas for Altar Girl, and Yuu Watase’s Fushigi Yuugi (The Mysterious Play) both manga & anime series had a big impact on me. I also admire Chynna Clugston’s work and especially her comic, Blue Monday.
BD: How many issues do you have planned for this story arc of the series?
KK: For the Kickstarter, we are launching two books at the same time. Book 4 and Book 5 have three chapters each. I have approximately 25 chapters planned to complete the series, and I want to continue the 3 chapter method for the last books, too. We are getting close to the end!
BD: In light of the crowdfunding campaign, are there any backer rewards that you would like to highlight for our readers?
KK: My commission prices are at a discount for the campaign! For new readers I’d love to recommend the ALL 5 Books Collection + Commission; it’s limited and as of now there are only 5 spots left. We are already out of the Books 4 & 5 + Commission limited reward, but there are currently ten available spots for the Digital Books + Digital Commission which is digital delivery, so it’s a good option especially to save on shipping costs.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Ashley’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
KK: One of the taglines I use on the books is “Life is tough for the Altar Girl,” which sounds maybe silly or trite, but living is never as simple as we think it ought to be. Many comic books and stories explore our struggles of good vs evil, dark vs light, etc… but life isn’t as simple as that. There is magic in who we are as individuals, and the choices we make for ourselves. I hope that like any story, Altar Girl might help make readers feel less alone, and be a gentle reminder that the weight of the world isn’t solely on your shoulders. Believing in and showing up for the people you love doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice yourself or your own happiness.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
KK: Altar Girl is released as a webcomic with early access on my Patreon for just $1. Altar Girl - Book 6 has already debuted there. I would love for your support to help me continue self-publishing the series! You will be one of the first to know what’s next!
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Altar Girl and your other work?
KK: Please share and support the current Kickstarter through November 5th! I hope you will take this opportunity to get All 5 Books and really dive in to the series as we near the end. You can also find my books ANA AND THE COSMIC RACE or GFFs: GHOST FRIENDS FOREVER #1 and #2 at your Local Comic Shops.