Regine L. Sawyer has worked in the Comic Book Industry for 10 years and is the owner and writer at Lockett Down Productions, a small press comic book company. She is currently publishing 3 titles: The Rippers, Ice Witch, and Eating Vampires. She is also the founder and coordinator of Women in Comics Collective International, an organization that focuses on the highlighting the merit and craft work of women working in the comic book industry.
As the 3rd Annual Women in Comics Comic Convention is happening this weekend, March 25th, 2017, at the Bronx Library Center in Bronx, NYC, I thought it fit to find the leading lady herself for an interview.
GREG ANDERSON ELYSEE: Regine Sawyer! You're the lead front woman of Women in Comics Collective and I met you at last year's convention in the Bronx. What exactly is the purpose for this collective and how long have you been running this?
REGINE SAWYER: I founded the Women in Comics Collective International over 4 years ago after being asked to host a Women in Comics Panel at Bronx Heroes Comic Con by the creator and organizer, Ray Felix. The panel was received really well and I just decided it might be cool to continue the conversation at other venues. Before we knew it, we were asked to host panels at other shows, then we started curating art exhibits, and all of a sudden people wanted us to facilitate workshops. Women in Comics Con came about when Ray, (who is our only male member by the way!), suggested that we put it together and see how it does. It went really well and this year went even better! The show is a combination of all the events we put on during the year with the addition of vendors; most of whom are WinC (pronounced Wink) members.
GREG: What has the reception been since building WinC?
REGINE: The reception has been absolutely tremendous. Organizations from across the country reach out to us to speak to students, aspiring artists/writers, adults looking for a second career and more. Conventions also ask us to make appearances and host panel discussions. It really is wonderful to see how well we've been received, since starting 4 years ago when we just had 8 members and many people didn't know who we were. I'm quite proud of what we have accomplished and am looking forward to the future.
GREG: How do you feel about the current representation in comics today when it comes to women? Why would you say an event or collective like Women in Comics is needed?
REGINE: As far as female characters are concerned there is always room for more. There are so many stories that need and deserve to be heard, a cap should never be put on that. The Independent comic book scene has always filled audience needs that weren't often addressed by the mainstream industry; and we will continue to do that whether mainstream will continue their "diversity boom" or not.
Organizations like WinC are needed because of the lack of regard we still face as women in the industry. With cyber harassment, wage gaps, work shortages and more, it's important that woman have a safe space where they can come together and galvanize, not only each other, but their careers and their brands.
GREG: Who are some of the creators involved in WinC? Who should readers be aware of?
REGINE: Sara Gomez-Woolley, Alitha E. Martinez, Whit Taylor, Alice Meichi Li, Micheline Hess, Jodi Tong, Y. Sanders, Jewels Smith, and so many more I can barely name them all! They all are so wonderful and talented!
GREG: So not too long ago you teamed up with Drink & Draw NYC, a group hosted by Khary Randolph, to do a Women in Comics Drink & Draw using a particular, um... model, yes... targeted for the ladies that night. It seemed to be a huge success. Can you tell us about it?
REGINE: Yes! This is the second time that we have partnered with Khary Randolph and Drink & Draw NYC. Last year began our collaboration where we hosted an event together called D & D NYC x WinC; it's in celebration of our annual convention Women in Comics Con, aka WinC Con. The event was born out of both organizations wanting to bolster Female Artist/Industry Professional participation in the artistic community events; so we have been working together in order to make that happen. 2016's event was amazing and 2017's definitely did not disappoint and your readers can see pictures of both events on our Instagram page. The model that we had this year was pretty damn awesome and our members were very pleased with our selection. And we hope you enjoyed modeling for us as well, GREG!
GREG: I really have no idea what you're talking about...
REGINE: [Laughs] Greg, stop playing. We have pictures....Plenty of evidence. [Provides receipts to the right]
GREG: Ugh! Moving on! How long have you been involved in comic books? Even before we met, I've been seeing your name at various places for years. What started your love for the medium and the craft?
REGINE: I've collected and read comics since I was around 7 years old. My father kicked off my interest by reading the Sunday Funnies to me every week, cover to cover. From there I graduated to Archie Comics then to the X-Men, courtesy of my brother. The X-Men really inspired me to want to create my own comics and characters, so I started drawing them and writing stories. My career in comics began in 2006 when I became the Managing Editor at an independent comic book company. At the end of 2007, Lockett Down Productions was born.
GREG: Let's jump into your works. I know The Rippers is your first official book. Can you tell us about it? What is that book about and the world you created?
REGINE: The Rippers is about an Intergalactic Bounty Hunter named Rhiannon O'Cair who works for a network of 150 Planets called the Intergalactic Confederated Alliance aka the I.C.A. The I.C.A's Bounty Hunter Unit's sole purpose is to dismantle a criminal organization called the R.A.I.D.E.R.S. In the midst of an assignment gone wrong, she is imprisoned for a crime that she doesn't remember committing.
The world of The Rippers is run by two entities: The I.C.A and The R.A.I.D.E.R.S. The I.C.A governs their 150 Planets and corresponding Galaxies within an area of space called the 'Zone of Control', anything outside of that belongs to the R.A.I.D.E.R.S.
GREG: Reading the Rippers, it seems like a lot was done to develop this world.
REGINE: The Rippers was a book 12 years in the making when I finally published issue 1. The story lived in me throughout my Junior year of high school up until beginning my career in corporate food management. During that time, I continued to build on the story before I could fathom being apart of the comic book industry.
GREG: One of my favorite parts in Rippers was reading the scene between Rhiannon and her mother, who comes to visit her in jail. I sense their relationship was probably based on you and your mother? If so, I want to visit and watch y'all go back and forth.
REGINE: No, you don't, it would be ridiculous! [Laughs] But yes that relationship is definitely based on the one I have with my mom. We fight, but we truly love each other.
GREG: I understand Ice Witch is a bit of a spin off from The Rippers. What's the connection between both books?
REGINE: Ice Witch is about an Assassin named Chenoa D'Ken. She is the Matriarch of the R.A.I.D.E.R.S Assassination Faction. She makes her debut in issue #2 of The Rippers and has a pivotal role throughout. At a point in her career she decides to settle down, get married and have a child; and due to unforeseen circumstances, the Organization is now after her child.
GREG: One of my favorite works from you that I love is Eating Vampires. Seriously, I need more of that, especially as a horror fan.
REGINE: Thank you!
GREG: What can you tell us about that book?
REGINE: Eating Vampires is about a young girl named Evelyn and she is from a clan of people called "Purifiers." The Purifiers have the ability to cure sickness, including most strains of a Vampire Virus. Her people are subsequently slaughtered and she is the last in existence. She is protected by two actual Vampire Eaters: Rigel and Madix.
GREG: When will we get the next installment? Hopefully soon?
REGINE: Issue 2 will be coming out later this year. However, you can expect an illustrated novel to be released in the coming months, called "Eating Vampires: Letters to Ev."
GREG: Wait, a legit novel? What can we expect to see from "Eating Vampires: Letters to Ev"?
REGINE: You can expect to learn more about Evelyn, Rigel and all the different types of Preternatural beings that live in their world and what role they play in the grand scheme of things!
GREG: What prompted you to do this in novel form?
REGINE: My intention was to always write an illustrated novel for Eating Vampires, developing the comic was secondary. I decided to do the comic book miniseries first because many of my fans requested it. They had seen poster promotions for the novel over the years and really wanted to see a comic book version as well and I decided to release that first.
GREG: Now I must ask, what challenges have you faced being a woman of color in this industry?
REGINE: There are many challenges on being a woman of color in comics. One of the biggest is being second guessed on my abilities. People, both male and female, will see the type of books I write and will assume that a man wrote them because they are Science Fiction based.
GREG: Where do you see women created comics going based on where we are now?
REGINE: I see more and more women entering the industry via the Independent scene; publishing comics through both traditional means and the web. In addition, I think that there will be more women created content throughout various entertainment media and it will continue to grow because female fans have made it clear that that is what they want to see and read.
GREG: Now I know this has been a bit of a touchy topic recently, but there's been this sort of... ignorance when it comes to Black female comic writers, this connotation that y'all don't exist and that comic companies have to seek out Black writers from outside of comics in order to write their books. What are your thoughts on that?
REGINE: Black Women Comic Book creators are everywhere and have existed from the beginning, (i.e, Jackie Ormes). Most them work independently and have been working for years. There is a full list of them on the ormessociety.com website that is constantly being added to. I think the mainstream has it's reasons for reaching out to non-comic book writers and that is their prerogative; but it's also their loss. They are missing out on the wealth of creators that have built their own fanbases and generated a wealth of work without having to be connected to a larger company.
GREG: As a champion in comics, especially leading WinC, any words of advice you'd like to leave aspiring female creators?
REGINE: My advice would be to never give up on your dreams; but in order to bring them to fruition they most hone their craft. If they're an artist, they must draw as much as possible and the same goes for writing if they are an aspiring writer. I would also tell them to go to as many comic book events as possible to meet other people in the industry to both network and possibly get their artwork reviewed. In addition, taking additional art classes and writing classes is also a good idea as well as taking a course in businesses; especially in contract law. The most important thing is to get as educated as possible in this industry so they have a flourishing career.
Women in Comics Collective International is hosting their 3rd Annual Women in Comics Con at the Bronx Library Center on March 25, 2017. Admission is free to the public! Convention goers can look forward to Panel Discussions, Workshops, Special Guests and an awesome list of Vendors!
11:30am - 12:30pm:
Women in Comics: Reconstructing Femininity
1230pm - 1:30pm
The Comic Book Spectrum: Comics & Longevity
1:30pm - 2:30pm
Black Speculative Arts Movement Panel
2:30pm - 3:30pm
Hollywood Spotlight: Alyma Dorsey & Toni Barton
3:30pm - 4:30pm
The Invisible Latinx
4:30pm - 5:30pm
Fandom Diversified: Changing Dynamics of Geek/Nerd Journalism
5:30pm - 6:15pm
New York Cosplay Network: Cosplay Showcase
6:15pm - 7pm
Rouge Alliance: Lightsaber Performance Troup Demo
WinC EDU: Comics in the Classroom
12:00pm - 1:15pm
Writing Workshop: World Building
1:15pm - 3:00pm
3pm - 4:00pm
4:00pm - 5:00pm
5:00pm - 6:15pm
Writing Workshop: Creating Dynamic Characters