Comic Creator Interview with Melissa Spence Gardner
City: Madison, WI
Comics: Strange Snow, Plink, January, XO, Poppycock, Temporary Insanity
Websites: strange-snow.com, plinkcomics.com
QRD – How old were you when you first got into comics & did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?
Melissa – I was very little when I first
began to read them - third grade. I started with Casper, Hot Stuff, Richie
Rich & then when I got older I loved Archie comics. But all the comics
were left behind in grade school. I literally stumbled over Twisted Sisters:
A Collection of Bad Girl Art in my college library - somebody left it in
the aisle - & my life was forever changed.
Melissa – Betty & Me. It might have been #1.
QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?
Melissa – I “self-published” what may be the worst comic/zine thing ever made over ten years ago.
QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?
Melissa – This one.
QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?
Melissa – I don’t even try to intellectualize the appeal or analyze why someone would want to make a comic - or read it. Comics can tell a story in a way that fiction can’t - the text & the illustrations work together to present what’s going on - for instance, a graphic novel can depict an unreliable narrator brilliantly when what is said & what is shown do not mesh. I guess I just tried to analyze it.
QRD – What do you better with your comics now than when you first started?
Melissa – Well, everything, really… but that’s a testament to how truly putrid my stuff was when I first started.
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
Melissa – I draw first, then scan.
QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?
Melissa – I love them. So much brilliance out there that I never would have known about if it was not on the web.
QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?
Melissa – Black & white.
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
Melissa – This isn’t exactly what you asked, but when I deliberately drew a character in XO to look like Big Moose, a few critics said that my drawings were done in an “Archie” style. (I don’t actually try to do that.) I was absurdly flattered even though I’m sure it wasn’t meant as a compliment.
QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?
Melissa – I’m lucky. They all like them, no matter what the subject matter. I’ve never had to hide anything or hope that they never see something I’ve done.
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
Melissa – I can’t think that I’d ever be able to do it any other way.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Melissa – I’ve been to SPACE & zine conventions.
QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?
Melissa – It’d be interesting to see how anyone could adapt XO to the screen. However I should point out that XO is Brian John Mitchell’s, not mine.
QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?
Melissa – Both. But I take the plastic sleeves off of books. I like to read them.
QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?
Melissa – I’m inspired by what I see all