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Jess Cate Talks Webcomics and Wear It Purple Day
Wear It Purple Day is a fantastic Not For Profit Initiative that promotes inclusion and awareness around sexuality and gender awareness, specifically amongst LGBTQIA+ Australians. In celebration of Wear It Purple Day, I spoke with LBGQIA+ Comic Book writer, Jess Cate, about her webcomic Heart of Millyera, the challenges of collaboration and Gender Diversity.
I hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as I did talking with Jess.
Anthony Pollock: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me this week. Please tell the readers a bit about yourself and the work you do.
Jess Cate: Thanks for having me! I am an Australian writer and comic creator. My main project is a comic called Heart of Millyera, but I have a few other mini-comics also.
Anthony Pollock: When did you start getting into comics and what led you to create Heart of Millyera?
Jess Cate: I started writing fiction when I was a teen and I got into comics in the last few years of high school, making photocopied comics and zines that no one ever got to read. In 2014 I met artist Jana Hoffmann who was interested in creating an Australian Steampunk comic with me and that was when Heart of Millyera was born.
Anthony Pollock: As an LGBTQIA+ creator, what are your biggest obstacles when it comes to your work? How do you overcome them?
Jess Cate: When it came to creating my own stories, I think lack of confidence to write and include the characters and plots lines I wanted, out of fear, would definitely be a big obstacle. Luckily, I came into comics at a time when the medium is more inclusive than ever and I feel more motivated to create stories with queer themes.
I believe we can overcome any pushback from anyone who inexplicably doesn’t want to read amazing LGBTQIA+ stories by supporting all the exciting queer creators and those who celebrate diversity in their comics.
Anthony Pollock: Can you walk us through your Comic Book creative process? How has it changed since you first started?
Jess Cate: When I first started out, working with Jana, we sat down together and drafted the story and I went away and worked on a script, supplying the pages to Jana who would draw them as they came in. We would meet up regularly to work through character designs and plot points and general business together.
This year Jana made the decision to step aside from the project and I began working with Brisbane artist, Camila Duran. It has been interesting working with different artists via email and coordinating via social media, which has become the way we do things now in a COVID-19 world!
Anthony Pollock: Wear It Purple Day is a day that for sexual inclusivity and positivity, however, it hasn’t always been this way. What are some of your insights as an LGBTQIA+ creator?
Do you feel we’re on the right track?
Jess Cate: I really do think we are on the right track. Diversity in comics is still something we should be striving for, but we cannot discount the fact that the LGBTQIA+ community are seeing themselves represented more and more in comics. It seems obvious, but as a creator, I really want to write about the kind of characters and stories that I also want to read about.
I think that is important, because we want to see ourselves represented; therefore, we need to reflect our reality in what we create. There are others out there who are hungry for your stories. Don’t be afraid to create them.
Anthony Pollock: Heart of Millyera has a lot of heart (sorry, I’ll see myself out) and is a great Australian webcomic. How would you describe your work to those unfamiliar with you and with comic books as a whole?
Jess Cate: Heart of Millyera is best described as an all-ages steampunk adventure, but it also has elements of fantasy. There’s pirates, magic and shapeshifting. The story is about a trio of young misfit geniuses who meet a cosmic sea creature, in the form of a young girl and find themselves thrown headfirst into danger to protect her.
Anthony Pollock: Many of us creators work on projects outside of our 9-5 jobs. Do you have any advice for balancing careers with passion projects/side hustles?
Jess Cate: I have to say, I have never had more time on my hands than in 2020, but I have found it harder than ever to focus my thoughts on just one project! Suddenly having free time starts to feel like a pressure in itself. In order to finish the scripts or stories I am working on, I try to just put in some time every day, even if it is to write a little dialogue on my phone when I am out taking a walk. I do a lot of thinking when I am out walking, or those in-between times, like taking a bath, suddenly ideas will start to flow.
Anthony Pollock: Do you feel the Australian Comic Book Industry needs an inclusivity day like Wear It Purple?
That is not a bad idea! Any opportunity to celebrate the amazing comics that are out there and shine a spotlight on the comics the LGBTQIA+ creators are making right now, is a good idea.
Anthony Pollock: Do you have any upcoming events/projects/releases you would like to discuss?
At the moment I am excited about every page of Heart of Millyera that Camila has produced! We have a new page going up on the weekend, actually, and it is gorgeous. I am also working on a mini-comic that is a bit different, which I hope to have out there by the end of the year.
Anthony Pollock: Thank you for taking the time to do this! Where can readers find you and your work?