Call up your neighborhood comic book shop: there’s something new for your pull-list! Come July, Kim D. and Kim Q. will grace comic store shelves again in their next planet-hopping, queer, punk rock, bounty hunting romp, KIM AND KIM: LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD. I spoke with Magdalene “Mags” Visaggio, writer of the series, last week to get a closer look into the Kims’ world. What ensued was a relaxed conversation, far-removed from the anxious energy of con interviews. While Mags Visaggio is known primarily for her comics with Black Mask Studios, (QUANTUM TEENS ARE GO and KIM & KIM), she’s also written for both Marvel & DC, and has an unannounced project at Oni Press [ed. note — this interview has been lightly edited for grammar and clarity].

Mags Visaggio On the Comics Industry, Validation, and Republica

ComicsVerse (CV): First, it’s been, like, a really big year for you, what with the Eisner nomination, and the new Marvel short [author’s note: days after the interview, Mags booked another short with Marvel, this time in VENOMVERSE WAR STORIES]. Is there any moment that was significantly validating to you as a creator? What made you feel the most accomplished and satisfied with your work?

MV: Uh. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say what that was.

CV: Okay, that’s totally fair.

MV: Okay so I guess what I can say is: I have very recently gotten solicited for pitches from several different publishers — including some bigger ones. I actually got two offers from the same large publisher the day after my Eisner nomination. They’re not like series offers or anything like that, but they’re big opportunities for me. And so I’m very excited. I’m very, very excited for those. And so that was really validating. The Eisner itself actually, to be honest, mostly sorta got my anxiety heckled up. It’s kind of hard to be nominated in a category next to Brian K. Vaughn and Marjorie Liu on what’s literally my first public work and not be like: “This is wrong.” And that’s not me like — I’m always worried people are thinking that I’m like fishing for compliments. And so I’m always like: “No, don’t say anything nice, I’m just trying to tell you that I’m very weirded out right now.” Y’know?

CV: Yeah.

Mags Visaggio
Image from KIM & KIM: LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD #1, courtesy of Black Mask Studios.

MV: So there’s that — I, um, there’s a whole bunch of stuff in the works that I can’t really talk about, so it’s kinda hard for me to answer that question in a clear way. *Sigh* okay. So I guess probably the most validating moment would be when one of my favorite musicians told me she liked my comic — unsolicited.

READ: If punk rock comics are your thing, take a look at our review of Sean Murphy’s PUNK ROCK JESUS!

CV: That’s really awesome.

MV: Okay, so do you remember — how old are you?

CV: Uh, I’m about to turn 22.

MV: Okay, so then no, you don’t remember this *laughs*. So back in the 90s there was this really dope, like, electro-punk band called Republica. They had this big hit song called “Ready to Go,” which I recommend because it’s really fun. The lead singer was this really awesome lady named — well, is because the band’s still around — Saffron. And I was just kind of like tweeting, I just kind of randomly tweeted that Saffron is one of my personal like, ‘style gods.’ And she responds back at me like: “Thanks so much, love KIM & KIM” and we have a chat about KIM & KIM — and she’s clearly read the book. And that was the most incredible moment because I’ve been a fan of Saffron’s since I was twelve years old. So we’re looking at — I’ve been a fan of hers for like 20-21 years — and she’s read my comic and is a fan, and had thoughts about it and that just kinda really blew me away. There’s probably nothing more validating than having one of your idols tell you they respect you.

Mags Visaggio
Saffron of Republica, one of Mags’s favorite musicians.

CV: For REAL, I did something with poetry this year, and one of my favorite poets was like: “Hey, this line is good,” and I just hid under my bed for a little bit. Figuratively.

MV: No, like TOTALLY, totally, totally.

READ: For more comics about a queer woman named Kim, here’s our interview with KIM REAPER creator Sarah Graley! 

CV: And the other one would be, barring current offers that you’re fielding: if you could choose to take on any existing character from either of the Big 2 [Marvel or DC Comics], or one from both: who would you choose?

MV: Well, I’m lucky enough that I’m getting to do something with a character who I always have wanted to do something with, but the answer to that question is Spider-Girl: Mayday Parker. I love Spider-Girl. I’ve loved Spider-Girl since I was in middle school. And I know that I shall never get to write Spider-Girl as long as Tom DeFalco walks the Earth. I just can’t imagine anyone’s really gonna get to helm a Spider-Girl title other than Tom DeFalco, ‘cause that’s really his baby and I totally understand that — I think he’s done amazing things with her. But given absolute reign over all space and time, I would definitely be writing Spider-Girl.

Mags Visaggio
Cover of KIM & KIM: LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD #2, courtesy of Black Mask Studios (cover by Tess Fowler & Tamra Bonvillain).

On KIM & KIM: LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD

CV: That’s super rad. #BringBacktheMC2! But now, moving onto KIM & KIM. On my first read through of KIM & KIM #1, I thought: “This is a goofy buddy comic! Great! Love it!” But I think one of the things that was most striking to me that persisted throughout KIM & KIM vol. 1 — as well as in this new issue — was the really deep connection and understanding between the Kims. It’s just something that persists. So how is the new arc, “Love is a Battlefield,” going to address the issues of intimacy and romance?

MV: Um, okay. I’m going to see if I can talk around this without giving too much away.

CV: Oh, yeah, sorry about that I-

MV: No don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry. So lemme see what I can say… I guess it’s a premise: it’s one of the things that the book is about. Kind of the main arc centers on Kim D.’s relationship with her shitty ex-girlfriend, Laz. I guess about five years before the current arc (two years before the first volume), she and Laz had dated for about a year, and then Laz bolted in the middle of the night. Never said a word, just kinda vanished. And that was it, there was no more Laz. So Kim D. has all this unresolved shit with Laz. One day they [the Kims] go to this planet, chasing down this really big bounty, and Laz is there. And so there’s already just a bunch of complex emotions for Kim D., but the big thing Kim D. is really excited about doing is telling her off: so she tells off Laz. Then Laz steals all their money and runs. And so that kind of forces her into this longer engagement with Laz where this woman she’d much rather not continue to have any kind of relationship with, she has to have a relationship with.

So what that whole arc is about basically, how do I put this: Kim D. dealing with her own unresolved relationship issues with her ex, um, her own complicated feelings about Laz — like Laz bolted in the middle of the night, but she never got the chance to be mad at Laz, she never got the chance to have a fight with Laz. And so her whole arc with Laz is just her trying to resolve her past feelings. At the same time we have — I guess the B plot of the arc deals with Kim Q. and her complicated-ass relationship with Saar. Saar used to be her ex-partner back when she used to work for her dad’s bounty hunting organization, the Catalans — is now kind of a friend of hers, but she still has these other complicated feelings about him — like, she’s still mad at him because when she left, he didn’t. He chose the Catalans over their friendship and so she’s got all this sort of resentment about Saar and their relationship. And so one day it sort of occurs with her that if she just starts having sex with him, they can sort of reset and she can kind of hate-fuck her past away. And be like all the complicated bullshit, y’know — I’m gonna sublimate into something that’s purely physical. She’s like “I can get out all the complicated feelings, all the anger all the aggression all the intimacy. We can sort of pour all that into a sexual relationship,” and so basically Kim Q. is trying to work out her past shit.

But this isn’t called “KIM & LAZ and KIM & SAAR,” It’s called KIM & KIM, so at the center of it are the two Kims and their relationship with each other. They have a complicated relationship internally that neither one of them really knows how to define. I remember, in the first volume, at one point Kim Q. refers to Kim D. as her “best friend, business partner, and personal whole world” and Kim D. in this new volume sort of reiterates this sentiment that like she goes, “y’know she’s basically my whole fucking world.” They’re sort of moving in all these directions external to the Kim-shaped bubble that they live in — y’know?  

Mags Visaggio
Image from KIM & KIM: LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD #1, courtesy of Black Mask Studios.

Sorry if I’m sort of stumbling over myself — it’s complicated, y’know?

So basically they’re each acting outside of the Kim-shaped bubble, and that’s affecting their relationship with each other. So on the one hand, Kim Q. really resents Laz, cause she’s never really liked Laz. And Kim D. is really mad at Kim Q. because Kim Q. isn’t really being honest about everything she’s got going on with Saar. And so they’re sort of both more willing — because it’s been a few years since the first volume — they’re both more willing to call each other on their shit and they’re both doing really dumb things at the same time. And so at the root, it’s the Kims sort of dealing with the fact that there’s a world outside the two of them.

READ: Need a refresher on KIM & KIM? Here’s our review of the first volume’s first issue!

CV: Hold on a sec, I had a couple questions that sort of got answered —

MV: Ask ‘em anyway!!

On the Unofficial Soundtrack to KIM & KIM

CV: Okay, well one of them would be — I didn’t know if I was able to mention Laz by name, but with that out of the way: is there any musical signifier that you have for Laz? Be it artist, or song — is there like “a theme”?

MV: Um, actually, I have a playlist lemme pull it up real quick.

CV: Amazing.

MV: So I can see what I was listening to when I was writing it… there were definitely lots of sort of specific musical cues, but it’s not like there was any one song that was just “the Laz song” or anything…”Barracuda” & “Hell is for Children.” “Barracuda” by Heart, and “Hell is for Children” by Pat Benatar. Also probably Pat Benatar’s cover of “Helter Skelter.”

CV: Beautiful. I love Pat Benatar.

MV: Everybody loves Pat Benatar, if you don’t, you’re wrong.

READ: For more of Mags’ work, take a look at our review of her mini-series, QUANTUM TEENS ARE GO!

CV: And also, moving on. What would be the soundtrack to “Love is a Battlefield”? I don’t know if that playlist is comprehensive for all.

MV: Well, I mean. There’d be a bunch of different songs.

CV: I mean, I guess just anything off the top of your head.

MV: I mean, probably “Love is a Battlefield.” That song became the title — originally it was going to be called “Return of the Hipster Freaks” (which you may remember was one of Kim Q.’s proposed names for their bounty hunting crew) and “Love is a Battlefield” emerged really early on in my playlist and I was like, “That title is exactly what’s happening.” It’s all these different kinds of love that are all sort of feeding into each other and all sort of pulling against each other, and all this toxic love.

Mags Visaggio
Image from KIM & KIM: LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD #1, courtesy of Black Mask Studios.

CV: And, thematically, is there anything in particular outside of the intimacy and interpersonal interactions outside of the Kims that you’re trying to explore?

MV: To a lesser extent, there’s gonna be some elements that come out in later issues that are gonna have Kim D. — this is sort of a subdued theme, but Kim D. is going to be confronting her relative level of success versus some friends of theirs and sort of like what adulthood really looks like. A big thing with KIM & KIM sort of overall was like trying to figure out what it means to be a grown-up and trying to sort out what sort of adult you want to be. And so you know basically Kim D. finds herself in this situation where an ex-gf [girlfriend] of hers from when she was 22 has stolen all their money and she’s like in this big fucking trauma, you know, to get the money back. Her friend Kathleen who comes in to help at one point is so much further along in her life in terms of her level of having-her-shit-togetherness. And so Kim D. is going to come face-to-face with her own dissatisfaction with where she is at 27.

READ: For more queer protagonists, take a look at these ten must-read  LGBTQIA+ webcomics!

CV: Is there anything in particular that hasn’t been touched on that’d you’d like newer readers to know?

MV: I mean not that I can think of — I mean, I guess you’re probably going to want to read the first volume because I’m not spending a lot of time painting a picture of what the status quo is.

KIM & KIM: LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD #1 comes out July 5th, 2017!

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2 Comments

  1. Hugh Balls

    September 5, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Brian, you’re an embarrassment for your country.

    Reply

  2. P. Tear Griffin

    September 5, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    That guy is a clown and should be commited into a mental institution

    Reply

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