Womanthology is a large-scale anthology that showcases the works of women in comics. Comic book writer Rachel Pandich talks with Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon about how she became involved with the project, her advice for aspiring female creators, and why readers should check out the Womanthology Heroic Sketchbook.
This interview was conducted on March 14, 2012.
Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: Womanthology started with a single tweet asking if there were any female creators who would be interested in creating a collection of work. How did you become involved with the project?
Rchael Pandich: I follow Steve Niles on Twitter. Everyone knows he is a big supporter of DIY and creator owned, so, of course, he retweeted Renae’s call for ladies. I thought “why not” and responded. It has been a whirlwind since.
BD: Over 150 writers and artists were paired together to work on collaborative projects. What can you tell us about the individuals on your team, and what was the creative experience like for you?
RP: I worked on a story called Ladybird with Janet Lee and Jenna Busch. It was my first time co-writing a story, and I was nervous that Jenna and I would butt heads. That was not the case at all. Jenna and I were able to feed off each other’s ideas and create something wonderful. Janet was able to bring our creation to life in such a beautiful way that I was in awe. This was the first time I had ever co-wrote a comic with someone. Jenna made it an easy and enjoyable experience. I think this has made me a better writer.
BD: In addition, you wrote a story called The Tea Totaler, which was illustrated by Kate Carleton and will be included in the Womanthology Heroic Sketchbook. How do you feel that the Sketchbook compliments, and stands apart from, the anthology?
RP: The Sketchbook is like a behind-the-scenes bonus. In it there are scripts and rough drafts of the stories. You get to see part of the progress of the stories. I’m biased, because I wrote it, but I like that the sketchbook opens with a silly story that is not in the main anthology so the sketchbook can stand apart more.
BD: The theme of Womanthology is being heroic, and all of the stories and art in the book are different interpretations of that idea. How do your contributions represent heroism?
RP: Spoilers. My stories involve the act of trying to be heroic. The Tea Totaler and Ladybird both involve a protagonist that is trying to save others, and sometimes a person’s heroic acts fail. That does not make them any less heroic, it just means people have to try and keep trying.
BD: One of the many amazing features of Womanthology is a section of the book devoted to recognizing female creators in the past. Are there any specific female creators that have inspired your work?
RP: Oh wow. Well, when I was reading comics in my teens and early twenties, the first female in comics that made me stop and say, “Huh, look at that,” was Rachel Dodson, who is an inker not a writer. Then, I became intrigued with female artists like Amanda Conner (who is my current favorite). It wasn’t until my mid ’20s that I started to actively pay attention to writers like Gail Simone. Honestly, when I first started writing other writers that inspired me were male feminist writers like Terry Moore, but you could mark that up to the ratio of male/female ratio in comics ten years ago. There are so many wonderful creators of all backgrounds out there now and there are so many more fighting for their chance. It’s an exciting time.
BD: What impact do you hope that Womanthology will have on today’s comic book industry and its readers?
RP: You can only play the same song on the radio so many times before you put on a CD or Pandora, right? How are comics any different? They really aren’t. Look at the explosion of popular indie companies and titles, the thousands of webcomics, the constant retcons and reboots of “the big two,” and the seemingly constant truffle shuffle of creator teams on certain titles. Readers want a diverse selection of stories, styles, and creators. The industry needs a diverse selection of stories, styles, and creators. I hope sales of Womanthology prove this and opens doors for many of the ladies on the project.
BD: Can you give us the inside scoop on any upcoming projects in the works, or your plans for attending conventions in 2012?
RP: I’m still at a point where I have to have a day job, so my 2012 convention travels are going to be few. I will be at HeroesCon, and, right now, NYCC, Comikazie, and Geek Girl Con are on the table but not in stone yet for me.
Projects. Oh so many projects. I can say that I am working on a horror anthology with fellow FL creators, a historical western with Laura Truxillo, and I will be working with Janet and Jenna again on another historical fiction piece that takes place in the early 1900s America.
BD: What is the most important piece of advice that you can offer to female writers who aspire to work in the comic book industry?
RP: You’re going to experience sexism at some point. Even if it is just some jerkward saying, “This is only selling because she’s a girl,” but do not let it get you down. Focus on your work, get it out there, and if it is worthy of fans, then the fans will come. Make your work not your gender (or race, religion, or sexual orientation) the issue of focus. I know it can be hard, I’ve experienced sexism in the comics community, but there are hundreds of people that will speak out and tell these people to shove it. Focus on your work and let it speak for you.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for Fanboy Comics fans to find out more about you and your work?
RP: Right now you can go to my Twitter @RachelPandich or my Facebook fan page. I’m hoping to have a website by mid-summer. That pesky day job takes up 40 hours of every week.
*Don’t miss Emerald Knight‘s Womanthology signing on Sunday, March 25th, 2012, at 1:00 p.m. Several Womanthology contributors will be in attendance, and proceeds from the sale of the hard cover book will be donated to Global Giving!
Fanboy Comics will continue to post all of its interviews with the Womanthology creators throughout the week. Click here for the latest interviews.