How would you describe your work?
Comics and zines on the ineffable in life, often autobiographical in nature – plus occasional experimental detective fiction, free-verse poetry, and queer X-men, sci-fi, and wrestling fan art.
What do you enjoy most about making zines/comics/art?
Building an image out of the emotions, memories, textures, colors, and lines drawn by my mind. It’s a kind of remarkable witnessing of a moment of communication that is as close to clarity as I seem able to get.
That and the friendships that have come out of trying to communicate through comics and zines.
What’s your favorite medium to use?
Ballpoint pen for autobio comics – or pencil and copic pens and markers for minicomics. But my favorite medium is oral storytelling – the things that only a conversation can make you feel and understand.
What drew you to zine culture?
I fell for X-men: The Animated Series and then tried to love comics but felt a bit alienated from mainstream comics like Marvel. Indie comics and zines felt much more like home, with such a wide array of voices and the strong support for folks doing stuff similar or different to your own. There’s often a sense of being seen and appreciated and engaged on your own terms that is difficult to find in this world.
What other artists should we check out? What is inspiring you right now?
I really dig comics by Penina Gal (especially Drift & Orbiting), Sam Beck (I looove Winter Parting), Madhav Nair (surreal stories as deadtheduck), Kruttika Susarla (just everything), Mike Freiheit (most recently Woods & Indoor Boy), and Vreni Stollberger (whose anti-capitalist posters I covet) – and I highly recommend the comics of Jon Cairns, Blue Delliquanti, JB Roe, Cori Redford, Craig Campbell, and Mel Gillman. Dailen Ogden is perhaps my favorite comics artist, due to their regular combo of wolves, blue/pink, and space, as well as being generally a rad human and friend. Wendy Xu and Steenz are both key figures – and inspirations – in the comics industry, not to mention their fantastic storytelling projects.
Multimedia comics and zine folks are especially inspiring of late – folks like Pam Wishbow, who makes a huge range of visual narratives and mystical objects, Shing Yin Khor who combines visual storytelling with games and installation pieces, and Abby Howard, whose Scarlet Hollow has been all that I desire from video games. I am similarly inspired by the work of the international Kadak Collective, especially researcher, writer, and filmmaker Aarthi Parthasarathy and educator & artist Shreyas Krishnan. I’m also inspired by my former collaborator and fantastic comics editor, creator, and researcher/journalist Vidyun Sabhaney.
I’m inspired by people who wear many hats, as a comics maker, teacher, researcher, editor, and event organizer myself, so I’d also recommend the work of comics pros like Orijit Sen, Phoebe Gloeckner, Mari Naomi, Parismita Singh, Eleanor Davis, Ed Luce, Thi Bui, Appupen, Bharath Murthy, Breena Nunez, Sreejita Biswas, T. Edward Bak, & Lawrence Lindell. There’s also a lot of autobio work from that group, too!
In short, there’s too many folks / comics / zines to recommend! Shoot me an email or chat with me at some future event and ask for more particular recs, eh?
What is your favorite zine / zine publisher?
My favorite zine is Vreni Stollberger’s A Date with Data – though I also adore Larissa Zageris & Kitty Curran’s How Ill Is Your Repute? and the innovative format of Unfolding the Saree by Mira Malhotra, Aarthi Parthasarathy, Pear D’Souza, and Vrushali Somavanshi (which unfolds from a hanger like an actual saree).
Zine publisher-wise, I’d recommend you check out publications from Pagal Canvas, the Gaysi Zine series, and comics from Studio Kokaachi, all very innovative and based in India – thus perhaps a bit tough to find in the US. For North America, check out Ad Astra Comix, whose publications include some very rad anti-capitalist work.
What music or films have influenced your work?
That’s tough – There’s far too many. I guess Camera Obscura, CHVRCHES, Doves, and REM are probably at the top of the list of music, plus maybe Morvern Callar, Under the Sand, and Miyazaki for films – Those probably reflect my love for mood in storytelling. A big film influence for my autobio work is maybe My Life Without Me.
What is a dream zine project you’d love to undertake if time and money wasn’t an option?
I’d like to make something interactive, combining weaving and comics and nature – so that you’d walk down a forest path and forage for wild foods while learning about the history of that place and also exploring a fictional story that feels like letting go of all the burdens the world has put upon you. Something like the incredible installation work of folks like Shing Yin Khor.
That, or finally finishing an old superhero murder mystery anti-capitalist comic I started forever ago – and then discarded because the plot was over-complicated.
What are you working on right now?
I’m starting tiny autobio comics about grieving the death of my father in November (Tiny Deaths), revising a queer romance minicomic, pencilling a comic for an academic volume on X-men: The Animated Series, collaborating with Zak Kinsella on a second X-men fan zine (first was Previously, on X-men) but on mental health, and drawing indie wrestlers I’d like to consensually cuddle for a possible zine.
I also teach social science at Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio – and am working on a couple articles / volumes on comics culture in India.
Favorite thing about Denver and/or Colorado?
The people and the ecosystems. Since moving to Ohio, I very much miss wandering over to Mutiny Information Cafe on Broadway or St. Mark’s Coffee House on 17th to draw the evening away with friends from Denver Drink & Draw – or going for hikes and reminding myself to drink water all the time.
Check out Jaromir Stoll’s work here: