Sunday, July 08, 2007

Occasional Interviews:
Danielle Corsetto

With her webcomic "Girls With Slingshots" going more or less daily, I thought it was high time for an interview with the multi-talented Danielle Corsetto. Corsetto's art has been described as having "a style that looks to me like what you might get if Jim Mahfood's art and Terry Moore's art got together and had beautiful mutant children." In addition to "GWS" she also draws the "Bat Boy" strip for The Weekly World News," a gig she took over from Peter Bagge. Come read Danielle's thoughts on comix, wimmin, wimmin in comix, comix about wimmin, and comix:

1. Why the switch to dailies?

Switching to 5 times a week (and occasional Sunday strips) means that I can tell WAY more of the story without sacrificing goofy stand-alone strips and decent punchlines. I can have way more fun when there's more time & space to spread out the story.

I feel like I've been given the ability to write a full 30-minute show after writing dozens of 30-second commercials for two years. Yeah, that's kinda it.

2. Any plans to do the Sunday strips in color?

Yes, as long as I can swing it, whenever I want to do a two-row stand-alone strip, it's most likely going to be in color. I can't promise one every week, but I'm hoping I can swing one every month!

3. Let's backtrack. How long has GWS been around?

It'll be three years this October. GWS debuted on the web and in mini-comic format at SPX in 2004.

4. Where did you get the idea for GWS?

I created Hazel, Jamie and Reese back in high school for the student newspaper, and kept coming back to work on scripts and eventually a webcomic about the characters, called Hazelnuts. After college, I decided to start up a webcomic featuring Hazel and Jamie, and spent a whole summer trying to convince myself that it should be a superhero comic. Luckily, just before the debut date, I pitched it and told myself, "Eff this, I'm doing slice-of-life."

5. Why slingshots? Is there a female empowerment angle to it? Or am I just reading too much into it?

Oh it is SO not literal. It's not even figurative. *sigh* Here it is. This is embarrassing:
My last two years of college were my first two years sitting behind booths at comic book conventions. During this time I learned that selling sketches made way more money than selling mini-comics. So I'd do sketches - mostly of girls - and struggled to draw badass girls with weapons.

Truth be known, I can NOT draw guns to save my life. So I began replacing them with slingshots. And it caught on. After awhile collectors came to me asking for drawings of "those slingshot girls." I knew a catchy title when I heard one, and decided to name the next incarnation of Hazel and Jamie "Girls With Slingshots."

I know. It's a lame story.

6. Do you see aspects of yourself within the characters Jamie & Hazel?

Unfortunately for me, yes!! Long story short, Hazel = my default attitude. Jamie = what I let people see and hear after realizing that my default attitude is a total bitch.

7. How long does it take you to draw a strip?

Lately, I'll spend a day scripting five of them, and about 2 hours working on the art for each strip. It's been going by pretty fast, compared to the old days! It used to take me 8 hours to do each Ramblers strip I drew in college. Then again, I have a feeling I drank more back then...

8. Do you have more male or female readers, or does it seem to be in the middle?

I've found it's really 50/50. Maybe a handful more male readers because, let's face it, I think the majority of webcomic readers are male. But GWS seems to have a nice variety of male, female, gay, straight, young and old readers.

9. You had a recentish strip where the character Candy makes a joke about "having her way" with Chris. You later made it clear in a forum that you in no way condoned/was alluding to/made light of the idea of "raping" men. It seems to me that anybody who took the strip that way was looking a little too much into it; and yet the controversy reminded me of the one raging now in mainstream comics regarding rape in storylines. What are your feelings on this issue? Is rape something that should or can be handled in the comicsphere?

Wow, you did your homework!

Yeesh, this is so tricky. See, the thing is, I never intended for this storyline to happen. I wanted Chris and Candy to go on a date, and that crazy Candy did this herself. I did not provoke her!
I think it's FINE to talk about rape in comics. In fact, scratch that; I think it's GREAT when comics, books, graphic novels, movies, etc. talk about things that we ourselves don't tend to talk about, sometimes even with our nearest & dearest. It needs to be made clear that YES, people get raped, YES, it's okay to feel hurt and broken, and YES, it's necessary to talk to people about it.

That said... Candy did not rape Chris. Get with the program, people; he MACED her sorry ass!!
I could go on about this, because I've found myself kind of cornered to talk about my feelings on male rape, but to be honest, it's nothing my comic won't cover in the near future. As with anything else, GWS is going to handle it with humor, and it's not going to become some huge epic lesson in life. The readers will take from it only what they wish to take, and that's fine by me.

And THAT said... I think rape is stupid.

10. Who have been your artistic influences?

The guys from Zits are AMAZING!! I'm totally inspired by their work, though I doubt it shows in my own.

I know I rant about PvP an awful lot, but to be honest, Scott Kurtz has been my biggest inspiration. No matter what you think of the guy, that is one solid, accessible, well-drawn and did I mention SOLID strip. I aspire to be a quarter of that man. *insert tasteless weight joke here*

12. Do you read mainstream comics at all? Do you have any opinions on the way women are portrayed in mainstream/superhero comics?

No and yes, respectively, and I realize that those answers in that order make little sense.

I don't read a lot of mainstream comics. I pick up Mary Jane because, um, my inner high-schooler squeals when I read them, and I have Daredevil in my reserve list because my friend Michael Lark does the wonderful artwork in it.

Part of the reason I don't pick up a lot of mainstream books is because I can't relate to the female characters. "Hey, I'm a badass female - check out the giant hole in the chest area of my costume!" Come on. Now, Jessica Jones from Alias... THAT got me. She may as well be Hazel with brown hair. That book consumed me - I read all the trades in two weeks, and I'm normally a very slow reader.

If they'd write more female characters like HER, you can bet I'd be reading mainstream. Until then, I'll stick to my graphic novels, Bendis books, and webcomics, please.

13. What other projects are you working on at the moment?

I'm finishing up the first several pages of a pitch for another writer's graphic novel, and finally starting to write the graphic novel I've wanted to write for a year now. No title for it yet, but it should feel a little like Garden State (romance story tucked into light-hearted observational humor).

If I have time, I'd like to develop the Bigfoot cartoon I came up with a year ago. I giggle every time I think about it. I think you would too, if you knew the story.

14. Have any plans for a GWS compilation book?

YES!! Good god, yes. It's about fucking time, isn't it?? Expect the first one by the end of the year.

15. What is it like being a fulltime cartoonist? Pros & cons?

Pros: Writing "CARTOONIST/SELF" in the "occupation/employer" section of dentist and doctor forms.

Cons: People like to think it's not a "real job." "Oh, I'll get Danielle to drop me off at the airport two hours away - SHE does't have a real job."

It really ISN'T a real job, but it's very time-consuming. I adore it, I wouldn't have it any other way, and the 8-year-old me who wanted this all her life is just bubbling with joy. But it's a lot of commitment and I do believe I work longer hours than most people, and fall into a smaller income bracket.

But like I said, I wouldn't have it any other way.

16. You've seemed to have toned down the "language" in GWS; much less cursing. Why is that?

Fuck if I know.

No, my mom started reading. That's basically it. That's why you see a McPedro strip after every really bad dildo and/or F-bomb comic. She loves that damn cactus.

17. You have ten seconds. Say something to a soul reading this that has never read GWS before.

Unfortunately for you I type very fast. Okay y'all, if you liked this interview, you're most likely going to like this strip. If you enjoy booze, sex shops, and stupid Seinfeld humor, you will like this strip. If you like girls, girl power, panty parties, and talking cacti, you will like this strip.
If you like violence, soap operas, full frontal nudity, or anthropomorphic bunnies with big tits... ummm, you'll probably still like this strip.

Thanks Danielle! Don't forget to check out "Girls With Slingshots" Monday-Friday and occasionally Sunday!

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