Monday, December 10, 2018 • Evening Edition • "Blacklisted since 2012."

Celebrating Your Quince: An Interview With Sebastian Kadlecik, Emma Steinkellner, And Kit Steinkellner

Written by Tim Midura on Monday, August 27 2018 and posted in News with Benefits

Celebrating Your Quince: An Interview With Sebastian Kadlecik, Emma Steinkellner, And Kit Steinkellner

On quinceañeras, superpowers, and the collaborative process.

Source: Fanbase Press

Sebastian Kadlecik is a writer, illustrator, and actor. His work includes Penguins vs Possums and Betty I AmKit Steinkellner is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. She's the creator of Sorry For Your Loss, coming to Facebook Watch September 18th. Emma Steinkellner is an illustrator, cartoonist, and writer. Her middle grade graphic novel, The Okay Witch, is slated to come out Fall 2019.

Together they've released the 15 issue series Quince, collected in one trade paperback, out now from Fanbase Press.


Tim Midura: Can you talk about the process of creating Quince? The idea of superpowers manifesting during a stressful event can be very X-Men-like, but Quince is just about as far away as a story can get.

Sebastian Kadlecik: I wanted to do a project that focused on my family's heritage and culture, and as I sat through multiple quinceañeras, I found myself reflecting on how emotional the experience must be for the girls. It reminded me of all the stories of superheroes that get powers in times of heightened emotion. I imagined how amazing and horrible it would be to get unexpected superpowers at that moment. A couple weeks later, I was hanging out with my nieces as they ran around the living room dressed as Supergirl and Batgirl. It made me smile because superheroes are so universal, but I couldn't help but ask myself, "How awesome would it be if they had more superheroes that they could identify with, a character that not only looked like them, but also had a similar home life?" That's when it became very personal, and I knew this story needed to be told. I wanted this project to be the best it possibly could be, so I reached out to Kit and Emma, two amazing collaborators...

Emma Steinkellner: While I wouldn't draw a straight line from X-Men to Quince, I do think they share themes in what it means to be gifted with and/or saddled with extraordinary powers and how does that change your relationship with your community and your own sense of identity. Lupe is not ready to be "extraordinary" when she discovers she has powers at her quinceañera. She has no idea what that means for her. And she confronts those questions even more as she starts to perform heroic acts as "Q" and meets her match in another superpowered character.

Tim Midura: Knowing Lupe is going to have superpowers, how did you decide which powers she was going to get?

Sebastian Kadlecik: My very first mental image of Lupe was of her in a big quince dress, floating above the ground, light emanating from her body— much like the iconic image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, her namesake— so I knew I wanted her to fly and that her hands would glow when she used her telekinesis powers. Super strength is just cool, so it was a must for Lupe. We also talked about things being difficult for Lupe and her having to struggle, so Lupe being only kinda bulletproof is definitely in character.

Emma Steinkellner: We figured since she only had her powers for about a year, she should get a lot of them and ones that would be useful to her when she's hero-ing for the city. So, flight, super-strength, and relative invincibility made a lot of sense. But, we come to learn that having those powers isn't a piece of cake. It's hard and grueling and very annoying.

Kit Steinkellner: Well, she only has her powers for a year, so knowing that, we decided to give her a lot. We kind of think of her powers as being "Superman plus," in addition to her super-strength and ability to fly, as well as being bullet-proof (or bullet-proof-ish), she gets a big burst of powers right at the the beginning of the year (during her quince) and during her final moments of being a superhero.

Tim Midura: Sebastian, you're credited as creator, while Kit and Emma are credited as writer and artist, respectively. How much of the story is a collaboration?

Sebastian Kadlecik: I absolutely love collaboration, and I feel so blessed to work with such a talented writer and artist. Lupe's charm, her endearing voice, is Kit's voice. And Emma, through her art, brings Lupe to life. They're both rockstars, and it's only through their hard work that this book came to fruition. I had laid the groundwork for characters, story, themes, etc. and had a pretty clear vision I tried to communicate to the team at the outset. Luckily, we were all immediately in sync. Then, a couple issues in, Kit and I got together and talked through the rest of the story in more detail and hashed out the larger beats. Kit came to that meeting with some really cool ideas, which led to a terrific brainstorming session. We kept a running document with ideas, notes, thoughts, then Kit would take all of that and the preexisting stuff I'd put together and write an amazing script, send it to me for my notes/thoughts, and when we were all happy, it'd go to Emma where she'd work her magic and everything would come together beautifully.

Emma Steinkellner: We checked in with each other every step of the way. I would say there is no part of Quince that we don't all have a hand in.

Tim Midura: Kit and Emma, how did you get involved with Quince? How much of the story is a collaboration?

Kit Steinkellner: I knew Sebastian IRL, and he had been a fan of the webcomic Emma and I created together. I was SO excited to get his e-mail; it's one of the best e-mails I've ever received in my life. I completely got the idea, the character, and the world right away, and I was so excited about the opportunity to be a meaningful part of this story.

Emma Steinkellner: Sebastian emailed us with the premise and his ideas for the characters of Lupe and her family. And we were VERY onboard. From there on, we started building Lupe's world together.

Tim Midura: With Spanish such an important part of the book, was it a no-brainer to release the book in two languages simultaneously on Comixology?

Sebastian Kadlecik: It seems like a no-brainer, but it actually wasn't part of the original plan. We had discussions early on about the bilingual nature of the book, the intended audience, and making the book as accessible as possible. That led to discussions of what dual-language really means, which led to the idea of our Free Comic Book Day issue being released in English and Spanish, which led to the idea of releasing all of the issues in English and Spanish simultaneously. Fanbase Press really championed that, found a wonderful translator in Valeria Tranier, and absolutely made it all happen. I'm so glad they did, because it's something we're all extremely proud of now.


Tim Midura: 15 is already a stressful age for most teenagers, but Lupe made the best of the year and her powers. She seems to handle it maturely. Is she going to cope well with losing her powers or is there going to be a large therapy bill in her future?

Sebastian Kadlecik: I think Lupe will be okay. She's been through a lot and has a great support system. And as we see at the end, there's nothing wrong with asking for help to get through the tough stuff.

Emma Steinkellner: Lupe is 16 at the end of the book. She's got a whole future ahead of her full of lots of ups and downs. She will go to therapy if she needs to, and we can see what a solid support system she has in place in her life. I think we showed readers enough to let them know Lupe will be just fine even though she isn't her superhero alter-ego anymore.

Kit Steinkellner: I think it's definitely going to be an adjustment, and in the final pages of the series, we really go into how she handles the major change in her life by taking charge and being truly proactive in a way she didn't know how to be before this monumental year in her life.

Tim Midura: I think a bigger villain than Cyanide was Lupe's internal struggle between doing what she wants and doing what's right. Can you expand on that morality decision?

Sebastian Kadlecik: I believe that's the real struggle of being a hero. What do you do with the gifts you're given? I think we all experience this on a smaller scale. What's best for us or what's best for everyone. What's easy or what's right. Superman has all this power, but he uses it for good. He's unapologetically good. Most of us would struggle with that, particularly as teenagers. It was important for Lupe to learn those lessons and to grow up a bit, see outside of herself. That's a big part of "coming of age."

Kit Steinkellner: Ha, I think they're both pretty big villains, but yes, Lupe, like most people, just wants things to be simple and straightforward, but because she has powers, her responsibility is to put them to the best use possible. Just wanting things to be normal and easy, I think that's a want most people can relate to, but to put aside what she wants so that she can be what her community needs, in my opinion that's what makes her a hero.

Emma Steinkellner: Something great about Cyanide as a villain is that his presence forces Lupe to ask those hard questions. And even though Lupe's abuela has mostly played the role of her ethical babysitter/Jiminy Cricket, Lupe has to start doing that for herself. And making the choice between what you want to do and what you need to do is hard. And it's a big part of growing up.

Tim Midura: With Quince wrapped, what's next? More comics?

Sebastian Kadlecik: I've mainly been living in a Quince afterglow, but I have a couple ideas I'm kicking around.

Kit Steinkellner: For now, I'm pretty busy with TV, my show Sorry for Your Loss starring Elizabeth Olsen and Kelly Marie Tran premieres on Facebook Watch on September 18th. But yes, more comics eventually.

Emma Steinkellner: I wrote and illustrated a middle-grade graphic novel, The Okay Witch, and it's being published by Aladdin in Fall 2019! And I think anyone who liked Quince will really enjoy it. It's got a lot of coming-of-age goofy angst and supernatural fun. Other than that, I'm always updating my Twitter and Instagram (both @emsteinkellner) with new stuff.

Tim Midura: How metal have you gotten in old age?

Sebastian Kadlecik: I am decidedly less metal than I was in high school. Here's hoping it comes back around.

Kit Steinkellner: I mean, I'm the one who wrote that line, and it's very much based on real life, so I would say extremely metal. Maybe even completely metal

Emma Steinkellner: So metal, I'm practically an alloy.


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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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