The following is an interview with Katja Vartiainen regarding the print release of her illustrated short story, Woebegone. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Vartiainen about the inspiration behind the story, her creative process in bringing the story to life, what she hopes that readers will take away from the Woebegone, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent print release of Woebegone! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the story’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this tale?
Katja Vartiainen: Thank You! Woebegone is a supernatural horror graphic short story based in the Victorian era about a recently and happily married young woman and her destiny when things suddenly go wrong. I got the idea from the most realistic dream I ever had in my life. It left me shaken for the next day and brought a bunch of darker themes I realized I need to reflect upon.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in balancing the writing and illustrative duties while bringing this story to life?
KV: I do not have a clear system of either I start with the text or the pictures. The story was in my head in its core because of my dream. I started with the creation of the ambience by painting. I did pause towards the end to reflect where I wanted to take the story ethically, and at one point I just wrote, then got back to painting.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Woebegone’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
KV: I wrote an afterword at the end of my comic, because what Woebegone, and the world, brought to my attention was the violence against women which unfortunately is still rampant in our world. I mean, a couple of days ago, some faction wanted to de-criminalize domestic violence in Poland! In Europe, in 2020! It’s the neighboring country, just there. We can’t be going backwards and give up the rights that many women and men have fought for us so we can live in a sane society. The #metoo movement has been very important in highlighting the sexual violence part. But there is so much to do. I hope Woebegoe is a reminder of that and one motivation among many to bring on the needed paradigm change for an egalitarian society for all.
I also wanted this story to empower and to be sort of a catharsis. Women very often turn their anger and experienced injustices towards themselves. I also did NOT want to endorse violence or revenge. It was an interesting process to go through.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
KV: I probably will do a third short horror story to make a nice trilogy that is also an Oblivion the cat origin story. I have a huge project of turning an old Indian text into modernized long, sci-fi-ish/dunno-yet story. That will demand a lot of time, though! It’s still pretty vague. And I’m constantly painting.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Woebegone and your other work?
All of my links are are under https://linktr.ee/katjavartiainen.