Kelsey Wroten is an art student and visual storyteller that we published through our open call for submissions and featured in our Coloring Book, Volume 3. Having seen none of her work outside the coloring book page before I looked her up, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Kelsey specializes in comics! I had to reach out to her for an interview so I could share her uncensored world of snappy dialogue and surreal situations with you.
DA: Hey! What have you been up to recently?
KW: I just finished up a comics project called GRAVE. It is the first installment of a longer story (length yet to be determined) about a female warrior woman. It's a fantasy story, so it includes a few monsters here and there. It's fun, but with a deeper message as well.
You can read the first few pages by clicking here: GRAVE: PT 1 PREVIEW. I'll be releasing it at the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo at the end of May. As of right now, I'm on summer break from the Kansas City Art Institute. I'll be finishing up my undergrad next year. Over the summer I'll be working an internship and looking for possible freelance illustration jobs.
DA: I just caught myself flipping through your comics for at least a half hour straight without noticing. What is it about comics that calls to you?
KW: I'm not quite sure. The most obvious thing to say is that I enjoy telling stories as well as drawing. It's something I've always done. Maybe it's just the way I express myself best. I like to think of comics as tiny movies. They are visual narratives you set your own pace for and enjoy privately. Essentially, comics encompass the visual expression of a film within the intimacy of a book. That could be part of the appeal for me.
DA: Your stuff is more long and involved than I'm used to from comics on the internet. It's fun because I haven't been able to predict where any of them are going. What is the process of creating them like?
KW: I usually write a short story as the basis and then model the comic after that. I like this method, a lot of people prefer writing scripts. I think that working from a short story helps with the more surreal stories, as the essential structure of the script is absent. That said, I do use scripts from time to time. It facilitates the more cinematic qualities of a comic. Essentially the writing comes first. Then I thumbnail, pencil and ink with a brush. That's a pretty standard method, I believe.
DA: Is there anything in particular you're reading/watching/listening to that inspires your work?
KW: My inspiration tends to change with whatever I'm into at the moment. I'd say that the most consistent influence on my work would probably be the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. I love the parallels that arise between the supernatural and the mundane. I also consistently try to write strong female leads into my stories. I believe Buffy is one of the best examples of that.
DA: I'm a really huge fan of Buffy and the message behind it, that's a great inspiration to have. Definitely makes me want to delve into more of your comics. Okay, so if ONE of your works could be launched into space for possible aliens to find, which would you choose?
KW: I think it might be too early to make that decision. I hope to make sooooooo many more comics, one is bound to be more perfect than anything I've made as of now!
DA: Love your page of our Coloring Book Volume 3! Have you had a chance to color it in yet? KW: Yep, I used markers, colored pencils, and gel pens!