Tiny Pink Robots (excerpt)
RORI! is a comic artist, illustrator and graphic designer living in St Louis. Her almost-autobiographical webcomic, Tiny Pink Robots, has been in publication since 2011, and is collected in Tiny Pink Robots: 365 Days in Print. She is also co-author of With a Buzz In Our Ears We Play Endlessly with her husband Gibson Twist, and her work has appeared in Womanthology: Heroic for IDW. Rori! is the founder of Madames des Comiques, St Louis’ first women-only comic-based monthly drink and draw, and she can be found online at Twitter, Tumblr, and Live Nude Comics.
I’m working on a few projects right now. There’s one called The Furies Below with Rachel Pandich, who I met through Womanthology way back. I had the idea to do a story about Anne Bonny and Mary Read, two real female pirates who dressed as men and pirated around and caused trouble. It’s gonna be kind of a historical fantasy — we’ll explain the real history along with maneating monsters and carnivorous mermaids.
I’m also doing an adaptation for The Snow Queen with Gibson, and I have some sequentials done for a one-shot I’m working on — We’re Only Gonna Die. It’s something I’m writing because Gibson refuses to write me a horror story, so I ended up writing it myself. (laughs) Maybe it’ll be a little different, maybe people will hate it, I don’t know.
ON STORIES AND MISSIONS
I would love to work for some giant publisher who would pay me money, but I really just want to tell good stories. I don’t know if I would want to work for big publishers exclusively, since it’s kind of what already I do now as I designer. I work for other people to make their stuff look great. I would like to do my own stuff and make it look great.
About a year and a half ago I talked with an editor, and she suggested I make a mission statement. I did it in two parts because I’m a nerd. I placed an emphasis on female characters, on subversive undertones that challenge me creatively, and then aesthetic stuff — easy-to-follow storytelling, and simple panel layouts so that people who’ve never read a comic will understand it. This is something I’ve become more aware of recently, something that I was less aware of when I was younger — you actually have to know how to read comics to read a lot of comics. They can either be the most simple thing to read and be very obvious, or they cannot be. So that’s my thing — visually interesting, but also easy to follow. I feel comics should be this medium that has a crazy wide appeal, and yet it doesn’t. So anything I can do to make someone who is not familiar with comics give them a try, I want to do. I am not one of those people who’s happy in a little playground.
ON SCHISMS AND KNOWLEDGE
I think a problem with comics comes from the idea that you’re either making crunchy “comix” with an X, or boob-battle superhero comics. You have these two specific views on how comics can interact with an audience. And even though that’s not true — just look at someone like Raina Telgemeier, that’s mainstream as fuck — there’s still this weird schism between this insular comics scene, which indie comics and superhero comics are both a part of, and what comics can be.
I think Image is a much broader publisher, and I love a lot of stuff coming out of Image. But I think there’s still an idea about what an “Image book” is. They do a lot of fantasy and sci fi and a lot of it is fairly adult, like if Vertigo became the best version of itself. So there’s this progress because comics are broader, but it’s still not quite Scott McCloud’s dream.
I still think about all the people producing quality work that’s not being published and distributed. I’ve worked in marketing, and I am still so bad at knowing what I’m doing with my own stuff. I’m looking at it and I’m just thinking this is bad, I don’t know what it means. When you’re marketing you ask yourself questions, and the project tells you the answers and you figure out why people would want it. But when it comes to looking at your own stuff those skills fly away. I can’t even create a logo for myself. You start with all the optimism about who you are and you have all these choices, and then something crashes, then you hate yourself.
It’s really hard to explain my work. My mind comes to a screeching halt. I just say “well, it’s all here,” even when people come up at cons. I’m just trying to figure out what to tell people it’s about.
My strips about how not to succeed in comics are kind of my favorites for that reason. I don’t know what I’m doing.
(laughs) That’s going to be the interview. Me just saying I don’t know what I’m doing.
To check out an excerpt of We’re Only Gonna Die, check the top left thumbnail:
Want to be considered for future installments of The New Comics? Send your work to Comics Curator Keith McCleary via the Entropy submissions page.