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Fanbase Press Interviews Viktor Kerney and William O. Tyler on Launching a Zoop Crowdfunding Campaign for ‘We Belong’

The following is an interview with Viktor Kerney and William O. Tyler regarding the recent launch of a Zoop crowdfunding campaign for the comic book anthology, We Belong. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Kerney and Tyler about the genesis behind the collection, what they hope that readers may take away from the story, and more!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent launch of your Zoop crowdfunding campaign! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you share with us about the premise of this collection, as well as its inspiration?

William O. Tyler: We Belong is a sci-fi and fantasy comics anthology that focuses on queer Black narratives. We would often see queer comics anthologies that would have little to no Blackness in them, and vice versa Black comics anthologies with little to no queerness. We knew all of these queer Black creators existed out there and had stories to tell that could easily get overlooked, so we started putting together the idea for this anthology, to have a place to let this specific point of view thrive.

Viktor Kerney: And while more and more queer stories are being told, so many queer Black creators were ignored and not invited to the creative table. We Belong is a great way to change that, showcasing exciting and fresh energy to storytelling.

BD: This project boasts an incredible roster of comic book talent! As editors and creators yourselves, how would you describe the process for bringing these individuals together, as well as your shared creative process in bringing this collection of stories to life?

WOT: We definitely had certain established creators in mind when we first started and reached out to them, a handful of which we do have in the book. One of the highlights for me has been getting to curate a selection of comic strips featuring the Brown Bomber created by Rupert Kinnard to include in the anthology. Rupert’s comic strip was the first one ever to be syndicated and feature queer Black characters. So, we have that level of importance involved!

But we wanted to make sure we weren’t missing anything, so we also had an open call for people to pitch stories to us, as well, and we have some fresh creators that are being published for the first time! We really wanted to make sure that even within the idea of queer Black narratives that we had a diversity of perspectives, because we are not all exactly the same. There are a lot of letters in LGBTQ+ and we’ve tried to honor that. And sci-fi / fantasy is a pretty broad genre, as well, so there are many directions you can go within it, and we do go in a lot of those directions in this book, too.

VK: We also encouraged our creators to challenge themselves in this project. It was the time to dig deep and tell the stories they truly wanted to tell. Really push the boundaries of storytelling and trust their guts. As William said, we have fresh creators involved in We Belong. We wanted them to feel free to express themselves and feel positive about their stories and art.

We Belong Cover Jay Hero

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 this collection may connect with and impact readers?

WOT: There is often so much negative backlash to media and entertainment that features Black or queer characters and stories, specifically sci-fi and fantasy ones like The Little Mermaid, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, the list goes on, that it can become a frustrating thing to experience for those of us who are both Black and queer. We Belong is a positive celebration of characters like us within those types of stories, and in an authentic way because of the creators themselves that are telling the stories. So, we do have a Black merman story by Nicholas Orr. We do have a big and exciting space battle from writer Erika Hardison and artist Beniam Hollman. And I think even in addition to how great it is that these stories have queer Black characters for us to see ourselves in, they are also just really great stories that anyone can get into no matter your background.

VK: Agreed. The stories in We Belong are inspiring in so many ways. The readers will be exposed to stories coming from queer Black creators, which will challenge their concept of storytelling. Also, queer Black readers will finally see a collection of tales that represents the community. Hopefully, these stories can undo the doubts about our ability to be great writers and artists.

BD: In light of the crowdfunding campaign, are there any particular backer rewards or tiers that you would like to highlight for our readers?

WOT: Well, first and foremost is the book itself, because that’s where the great content is! There are over 20 creators involved, so I feel like there is something for everyone in there and it’s available both in print and as a digital book. Beyond that, we do have art prints and original art from some of our creators, and our publisher Stacked Deck Press has also just added some cool coloring books to the campaign that spotlight prominent queer Black historical figures as well. It’s a little bit of a non-fiction history lesson to go with your fiction.

VK: I co-sign on all of this, and I want to point to the enamel pin set which features the We Belong logo and Pinky Pie character. Then, the original art prints from our creators are a must have, in my opinion.

BD: Are there any other projects on which you are working that you would like to share with readers?

WOT: Outside of We Belong, I’m currently developing two personal projects, Anxious Ax and Siren.0, both of which are queer horror comics with Black leads currently running as webcomics on my Patreon, but will be collected into books from Tannis Comix. One deals with anxiety and the other deals with sexuality and body issues, two things that I find myself needing to explore these days.

VK: I’m currently developing the sequel to my first graphic novel, StrangeLore. It’s called StrangeLore: Bonds. I’m also shopping around my YA fantasy manuscript, Sons of Midnight and Shade. This story involves a queer Black teen who discovers he comes from a long line of Black witches and warlocks called Maajus, who are being hunted and killed by a malevolent coven.

BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about the We Belong Zoop campaign and your other work?

WOT: You can find me @williamotyler on most social media to see my work, as well as lots of previews from everyone in We Belong. But most importantly, check out the We Belong campaign on Zoop to help us get funded and beyond! Anything we make above our goal will go directly to paying the creators more so that would be very helpful to everyone involved. The campaign is live thru September 14th here.

VK: You can find me @wondermann5 on Twitter, and @viktorishere on Bluesky. And yes, please help us fund We Belong! This project is ambitious, groundbreaking, fantastic, and much needed. The creators are so amazing and deserve this moment.

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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