Interview: Indie Comics Creator Kat Calamia
The world of comic books is filled with wonder, amazement, and colorful characters. Themes of heroism, family, and justice are commonly used to weave intricate stories that people can relate to, and be entertained by. Creating a comic book requires countless hours of work, energy, and passion. Enter: Kat Calamia!
Kat is the comics creator behind They Call Her…The Dancer, and Like Father, Like Daughter. Like Father, Like Daughter tells the story of Casey, a young woman who has to reconcile her hatred for her world famous superhero father who walked out on her family, while also inheriting his power set. To get the inside scoop on what it takes to create your own comic, as well as the latest updates on Kat’s project, be sure to read the interview below!
Do you remember your first comic book? What was it?
Kat Calamia [KC]: I was always creating stories as a kid and even in high school, but my first official comic book was actually Like Father, Like Daughter. We have been publishing the series for about five years now over at Short Fuse Media, and just had a very successful Kickstarter collecting the first four issues of the series and we are sending out issue 5 to backers as well.
What inspires you about comics, and what inspired you to create your own?
KC: Comics are just such a unique medium. I’m a very visual person, so it’s great to have stories with both art and words. It’s just the perfect marriage for me. What inspired me to create my own? Other comics! I found what I loved about storytelling and try to put that in my own work.
Where did the premise for the comics come from?
KC: Like Father, Like Daughter I wrote at a time when DC Comics’ New 52 was still in full force, and Marvel shoved their superhero relationships to the back burner and were focusing more on big events. I wanted a comic that had family in the forefront and focused on relationships. The series is everything I love about superhero storytelling in one story. I try to put what you know about the superhero genre on it’s head.
I wrote They Call Her…The Dancer towards the end of college. I’ve always been fascinated by the similarities between dance and martial arts. Dance is always seen as this beautiful artistic expression, but I feel like people forget how much strain and brutality is put on the dancer to pursue this creative endeavor. Martial arts on the other hand, is seen as violent, but there’s also beauty to these movements. Both forms of movement have similarities, and I wanted to show this with my character Mia.
The comic also focuses on mental health, which is really interesting to contrast with the physical aspects of dance and marital arts. When first crafting the comic, I wanted to tell an over exaggerated story about what it means to be an introverted person, but I feel like along the way we’ve tackled an even bigger psychological story. Mia is a person who suffers with PTSD, a person who has been suffering with this since she was a child. She’s been ignoring her mental health, and the rest of the book shows the consequences of that.
Do you have a favorite character?
KC: Favorite character I’ve written, probably Stephanie from Like Father, Like Daughter. It’s weird, I always tend to grow attached to supporting characters. Even though one of the big premises of Like Father, Like Daughter is that Casey, in another superhero book would have been a supporting character for her father, but here, she’s our star. So, it’s interesting that I gravitate towards Casey’s supporting character. I just love how much Stephanie has grown. When I first created Stephanie she really was just there to be a supportive friend to Casey and allow Casey to talk to someone about her super powers and daddy issues. But throughout the series she really grows to be her own character.
I’m excited for fans to read future issues because we learn a lot about Stephanie as an individual. One thing you’ll learn in issue 5 (and even in our trade), is that she loves music. Stephanie is as passionate about music as Wes is about comic books. Her love for music comes from her dad. So, we are going to learn more about Stephanie’s family moving forward. She’s a middle child with two brothers, so it’s fun to see how that dynamic is different from Casey who is an only child. We are also going to explore Stephanie’s sexuality in the third arc. It allows us to flip the script and see Casey as the supportive friend as Stephanie learns more about herself.
Favorite character in general – Mayday Parker – Spider-Man’s daughter in an alternate universe. Spider-Girl is actually still Marvel’s longest running female led series. I love that she’s a mix of both Mary Jane and Peter. She has Peter’s sense of responsibility without having to deal with the same trauma. I also really love how she redeems her villains. She uses her empathy more than her fists.
Do you have a favorite creator?
KC: Tom Defalco! I’m a huge Spider-Man fan (which is why you see a lot of Spidey influence in Like Father, Like Daughter) and I love what he’s done with the Spider mythos. He also created Spider-Girl and has just been such a big inspiration for me.
What can you tell us about your personal experience?
KC: My personal experience creating comics? I’ve learned that promoting your book and building your brand is as important as making your comic book. It’s a hard journey, but an important one if you want to get your story in people’s hands as an indie creator.
What can you tell us about your own process as an artist?
KC: When developing a story, I try to figure out why I love the stories I do. What hasn’t been done in this medium yet? That has really helped me develop the books I’ve already written. ALSO OUTLINING IS SO IMPORTANT! This is the place you are really going to figure out your story.
What advice would you give others wanting to go into the industry?
KC: Learn your craft. Be sure to read other comics to understand the medium and find other comic scripts to see how a writer crafts their story. Talk to other creators to see their process.
Just start writing! Writing is more than an idea. It’s about putting that idea to paper.
What’s the next step for “Like Father, Like Daughter”?
KC: Right now getting the trade and issue 5 in people’s hands. We are also in the early stages of beginning issue 6. So, I’m excited about that.
What are your overall goals/plans?
KC: Keep building my fanbase and getting my books in as many hands as possible. My overall goal – I would love to work for Marvel or DC Comics one day, while still writing some indies.
What is your favorite part of creating a comic book?
KC: Discovering the nuances of these characters. I enjoy exploring their different layers. I also love seeing what a reader gets from my comics. They may interpret my story differently than I do, and I feel like that’s the beauty of storytelling.
Will you be at NYCC?
KC: Yes, I will. I’ve been going every year since 2008. I’ll be doing press there for Newsarama. So, looking forward to seeing what I will be covering.
You can follow Kat over @ComicUno on Twitter and be sure to like Short Fuse Media’s page on Facebook for updates about the company!
Be sure to check out They Call Her…The Dancer, and Like Father, Like Daughter to show your support!