As Women’s History Month comes to a close, it’s important to celebrate ALL women! ComicsVerse believes in celebrating artists of all creeds, colors, (etc…) and we couldn’t be happier getting to talk to Julia Kaye. Julia is a trans woman producing a fantastic webcomic called UP AND OUT, which depicts her journey with transitioning and life in general. She’s helping give a voice to a long shunned community and we couldn’t be more supportive of her work! Inspiring others is a true gift and to be forthcoming like Julia is a powerful weapon to destigmatize transgender and misgendered people.

ComicsVerse: How did you get involved in comics and what have they meant to you?

Julia Kaye: I had a bit of a winding path to get into the comics scene. I graduated college with a degree in illustration but was so burnt out from school that I gravitated towards other things instead. I started drawing a little story comic, then for a bit I thought I’d try children’s books, then animation, then back to making story comics… After a couple years of waffling and working day-jobs, I found myself living in New York, doing corporate graphic design work. I didn’t care for it; all I could think of during the day was making comics. So, with the nudging of my then-SO, I took a leap of faith.

We saved up some money, left the city behind, and I started making gag strips under the title UP AND OUT. At times I needed a part-time job to stay afloat, but I eventually got to where I wanted to be a few short years later.

The medium of comics means so much to me. There aren’t any budgetary concerns for props or locations, an artist’s only limitations are their imaginations and time. Because they can be created by a single artist, you can get an intimate look into another person’s life. And more personally for me, they were an escape from the corporate world, which was everything.

CV: Do you find art or creating therapeutic?

JK: I didn’t for a long time. I was making gag strips for years and those were enjoyable but generally pretty stressful. Getting the script and timing of a comic down just right so the punch lands how you want it to can be difficult. I find making autobiographical work super therapeutic, though! It’s relaxing not having to worry about audience expectations and just let my mind wander. It gives me a chance to slow down and be in the moment, checking in on how I’m feeling about my life at that moment.

Julia Kaye
UP AND OUT by Julia Kaye

CV: What’s your creative process like?

JK: For autobio work, if an interesting thought crops up during the day, sometimes I’ll jot down a quick note to explore it later when I have my sketchbook on hand. Otherwise, I just let my mind drift awhile ‘til something comes. I’ve learned to be patient and accept that something always comes given time. Then I break out a pencil, sketch it in, then lay down some inks (and hope my hand isn’t too shaky that day!).

READ: Sarah Andersen of SARAH’S SCRIBBLES is a beacon of hope!

CV: What has been the biggest struggle in all this?

JK: For my art: I’ve never been much of a technical artist, but I’m really trying to get better about that! I wanna get better at clearer compositions and strong character posing.

For my autobios: Letting go of expectations and allowing myself to be completely honest. I can be so good at masking my feelings from myself during the day, so stripping that away to make something I know I’ll be sharing can be difficult.

For posting them online: getting over the fear that I’m exposing a very honest part of myself to countless strangers. Though to be honest, knowing that friends and coworkers are going to read my work is way scarier.

julia kaye
UP AND OUT by Julia Kaye

CV: Was there any trepidation in making such an honest series about your journey being a trans woman?

JK: No, there wasn’t any trepidation because, when I first started it, I didn’t have any plans on releasing them to the public. I was making them just for myself as a way to sort through the complex feelings I was going through at the time. By not intending them for an outside audience, I allowed myself to be much more honest than I would ever have dared otherwise.

CV: Was making it a comic always the go-to method?

Yeah, it was. I’ve never been able to keep a written journal, I always found my hand would cramp up while writing. But making autobio comics came super naturally. Distilling my thoughts down to three panels felt like something I could manage to do on a daily basis without stressing myself out.

CV: How do you approach the negative backlash?

JK: Block and move on. Sometimes I’ll take inspiration to use it as a teaching moment on Twitter. If I’m feeling real salty, every once in a rare while, I’ll publicly subtweet them to get it out of my system.

UP AND OUT by Julia Kaye

CV: Much like racism, ignorance is probably the leading factor in transphobia. The comic you make is a tool to combat that ignorance. What misconceptions about being transgender do you wish to expose?

JK: First, we’re just people. Second, gender dysphoria is a very real thing that is greatly detrimental to our lives and the reason why transitioning is absolutely necessary. We’re not predators and more often than not we’re afraid of the cis population, with good reason.

READ: We interviewed Sarah Graley, who does KIM REAPER!

CV: How long did it take for you to be comfortable to express your true identity?

JK: I have no idea. It was a gradual process with thousands of tiny steps as my comfort zone got pushed further and further out. It took an incredible amount of effort on my end to get to my current level of comfort. Certainly, by the end of the first year, I felt actual relative comfort.

julia kaye
UP AND OUT by Julia Kaye

CV: Comics seem to be the forefront of publishing content and creators with diverse ethnicities, sexualities, genders (etc…). Have you been surprised by the warmth of the industry? In your view, what aspects would you like to see improve?

JK: From the very start of my putting comics online, I noticed how supportive and friendly webcomic creators were to each other. And while it was terrifying to take the plunge to publicly come out, it really should have come as no surprise that I was so embraced by the community at large. It’s wonderful.

I would love for more queer and diverse creators to be recognized outside of our little sphere of influence. There’s just such an incredible wealth of skill and wonderful stories to be found.

CV: What message would you like to give any artists or anyone that may feel ostracized by who they are or what they are trying to create?

JK: Your experiences are valid and you’re not alone. It can be hard to deal with at times, but it’s worth the effort to keep moving forward. Don’t let anyone stop you from achieving your dreams. You’re worth it.

CV: Where can people find any updates on your work and release date?

JK: I typically release comics every Monday and Friday, but sometimes I have extra updates in between.

My Twitter is:

My Instagram is:  

My Tumblr is:

Also, help Julia Kaye out by donating to her Patreon!

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