Thursday, December 13, 2018 • Evening Edition • "Those who arrive survive. Maybe."

Shout Out Anthology: An Interview With Contributors Nicholai Farber, Derrick Chow, And Day Irwin

Written by Tim Midura on Tuesday, December 04 2018 and posted in News with Benefits

Shout Out Anthology: An Interview With Contributors Nicholai Farber, Derrick Chow, And Day Irwin

The queer anthology's Kickstarter has already met its goal.


Source: Kickstarter

The Shout Out Anthology is a new comics collection which includes stories with lead characters who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-masculine, trans-feminine, non-binary, gender non-conforming, two-spirit, or asexual, and features writers and artists who share those identities.

The 216 page full-color anthology features 18 stories starring bold queer teen heroes and is a testament to the diversity and strength of the queer comics community. The Shout Out Anthology has already met its goal of CA$ 30,000 and runs through December 14.

I talked to Nicholai FarberDerrick Chow, and Day Irwin about their contributions to the anthology.

 

Nicholai Farber 

TM: Can you introduce yourself and say a bit about your story?

NF: Certainly—my name is Nicholai, and I'm an illustrator who works primarily on independent art projects, original comics (including my ongoing webcomic project, Kingdom of Sunlight), and illustrated materials for non-profit organizations. I also happen to be a first-generation Jewish-Ukrainian immigrant who is both transgender and queer.

The story "Torontovka" is about someone a little like me in this regard. An immigrant teen living in the apartment complexes of the Russian-speaking Bathurst-Steeles neighbourhood of Toronto. Sasha is a character just coming to terms with their seemingly monstrous emerging identity. When a storm causes a building-wide power outage, there is no escaping it in the dark.

TM: Queer representation has often been lacking in genre fiction. What made you want to tell this specific story in the anthology?

NF: As far as genre-fiction is concerned, I think queer representation of a kind has actually long been present in horror. Monsters haunting the pages of 20th century literature and film were especially prone to being queer-coded. From Carmilla and Dracula's Daughter to the "deviant" Norman Bates in Psycho and even Clive Barker's Cenobites (setting aside more positive depictions in his body of work), many of these representations were less than flattering.

Horror is of course the genre from which "Torontovka" takes its cues. I believe that despite a tainted history, it's perfectly suited to exploring such difficult topics as marginal identity, loneliness, and the internalized fear and disgust that can emerge from trauma and struggling with discrimination. In "Torontovka", liminality is the subject at question. A threshold between identities in conflict. Few genre conventions are quite so endemic to horror as the frightfully ambiguous. And few are quite so reflective of the very real horror involved in navigating spaces like the community you grew up in, when you come to realize how easily they can turn hostile to something within you that refuses to be rejected.

TM: Is there a message about queer representation you're hoping to get across?

NF: Even as a voracious reader, I didn't see much queer representation growing up. I did however learn to sympathize with monsters—rewriting designated villains as protagonists who got to tell their own stories, long before the word "queer" had so much as entered my lexicon. These days, I've been noticing a push for queer representation across all forms of media to be more wholesome and positive. It's understable after decades of unhappy stories where queer-coded characters would meet an early, sordid end. However, I also think we need to leave room for a little darkness—because the truth about darkness, as any horror fan might tell you, is that ignoring what goes bump in the night can be a very dangerous thing, and we live in a world where the struggle of queer people is far from over.

On that note, there is already a queer underground reclamation going on in horror. I invite curious comic readers to check out the work of K. M. Claude, Ashley McCammon's Obelisk, Jackie Reynold's The Divide and I, and Dead City by Michelle Parker and Jey Pawlik, among many others. Personally, I would love to see even more voices with a history of marginalization being heard and making their mark on the horror and dark fantasy comics scene. There are still so many stories to tell.

art1.jpg

 

Derrick Chow

TM: Can you introduce yourself and say a bit about your story?

DC: I'm a comic artist and writer who also creates illustrations for magazines and books. I had a lot of fun crafting the world my characters inhabit in Love In The Cloud, so I'm excited for readers to visit it. It's a cyberpunk love story about a pair of best buds who live in the virtual city of Polyberg. It's a time of change for my characters: they are about to graduate high school and set off on their own paths, and they are starting to wonder if maybe their connection might run deeper than friendship...also a sort of 'digital apocalypse' is imminent, promising to change their entire world in ways they can't imagine.

TM: Queer representation has often been lacking in genre fiction. What made you want to tell this specific story in the anthology?

DC: Once I heard that this anthology is aimed at young readers, I was all in. In my youth, I was hungry to read genre stories with characters that reflected who I was, and there wasn't a whole lot out there. Also, I love playing in the big, imaginative sandbox that speculative fiction offers.

TM: Is there a message about queer representation you're hoping to get across?

DC: I'd love for young readers of all stripes to come away from my story with the desire to tell their own stories, to feel inspired to spin their own tales and make their own narrative sandboxes to play in. A greater variety of voices in genre comics is something that benefits everyone. But mainly, I hope that people come away from my story with their hearts warmed and their imaginations stoked by my characters and the virtual realm they call home.

art2.jpg

 

Day Irwin

TM: Can you introduce yourself and say a bit about your story?

DI: Oh, gosh. I'm Day Irwin and this is my first time in a book. I'm a writer from Toronto, I live in a pile of board games, and I'm nonbinary (they/them), which is something that both doesn't matter and matters way too much.

I worked with Vivian Ng on The Name of the Forest, our story about a nonbinary kid who's journeyed to a magic forest to get a wish from the ominous forest spirit. It turns out the spirit wants a drop of blood and your true name. The problem - the hero is still working on the name thing, so they can't even get to the part of the story with the curse or trick or whatever. They're stuck and the spirit is caught off guard - neither character really knows what to do here.

TM: Queer representation has often been lacking in genre fiction. What made you want to tell this specific story in the anthology?

DI: For a lot of trans and nonbinary folks, there's this awkward, liminal state where the name you have won't fit, but you still haven't found a name that does. I wanted to capture an experience I've rarely seen represented and give it a fun fantasy twist. I love stories where supernatural beings are unprepared for regular human stuff, so the shape of the story came together pretty quick.

I also wanted to give Vivian lots of plants to draw, which is just a win for everyone.

TM: Is there a message about queer representation you're hoping to get across?

DI: I think there's a huge pressure on queer folks to have everything figured out before we say or do anything, and I think we put some of that pressure on fictional characters too. We need more stories about queer characters who DON'T have it all worked out by the end of the story, and who STILL get to have adventures and be fun and funny. We need messy, imperfect queer characters who aren't burdened with Good Representation or delivering teachable moments. We need this space both in and out of fiction, really.

art3.jpg

 

The Shout Out Anthology has already met its goal of CA$ 30,000 and runs through December 14.





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About the Author - Tim Midura


Born in the frozen tundra of Massachusetts, Tim Midura has long possessed a love for comic books and records. After stealing the beard of Zeus and inventing the pizza bagel, a much more heavily tattooed and bearded Tim Midura has finally settled in San Diego. He's the world's first comics journalist who doesn't want to become a comics writer. Find him on twitter, facebook or by email.


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