Rachel Davis interviewed the great Whit Taylor at Comic Arts Brooklyn. Whit Taylor talks her inspirations, The Nib, and politics in comics. You do not want to miss out on this great interview by ComicsVerse’s own Rachel Davis.

This transcript was edited for clarity.

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ComicsVerse: Welcome to Comic Arts Brooklyn 2017! My name is Rachel Davis. With me is the comics creator Whit Taylor.

Whit Taylor: Hey, how’s it going?

ComicsVerse: And you are watching ComicsVerse! How are you enjoying C.A.B. so far Whit?

Whit Taylor: It’s great. This is a new space, so it’s a little bit different. But definitely less like hot than it was last year, really easy to walk around. It’s nice.

ComicsVerse: Absolutely. So, first off, what are some of your inspirations behind the art that you do or the comics that you make?

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Whit Taylor: It’s a good question. I guess I have a lot of different influences from cartoonist that I admire. I think about like, you know, Linda Barry or Gabriel Bell. Especially a lot of women who do memoir sort of comics. I love nonfiction books and journalism, so that’s something I’ve always really been into, nonfiction work. Scientific illustration is something I enjoy too.

ComicsVerse: And that definitely shows up in your wonderful work on The Nib, which I encourage everyone to go and check out. Aside from being a comics creator you also work part-time in after-school program, and you have worked as a public health official. How do you juggle both of those jobs at the same time? How do you manage it?

Whit Taylor: Sure. So yeah, I mean up until recently I was working full-time and then juggling that with like comics work and editing work. And I think that’s always a struggle in the arts and something that, you know, creators are always trying to figure out how to balance things.

Right now it’s a lot easier since I switched to part-time. I’m able to do most of my work in the morning, which is usually when I’m the sharpest and then go to my after school after that. So I can’t complain right now but, you know, sometimes I do have more work, and it’s just a little bit of a scramble. But trying to balance that with also, you know, taking care of myself and getting enough sleep and things like that.

ComicsVerse: Absolutely the struggle of anyone that works around the city.

Whit Taylor: Exactly. You know how it goes.

ComicsVerse: Oh yes, unfortunately. So some of your comics still are quite autobiographical, such as talking about growing up with black hair, something that I definitely resonated with, or discussing race and at dialogue in American culture. Now that we’re a year into Trump’s presidency…

Whit Taylor: Sorry.

ComicsVerse: I felt that.

Whit Taylor: A visceral reaction.

ComicsVerse: Yes. Now that we’re a year into “Blank’s” presidency, what do you think is the place of comics, and political comics in particular? Have you seen any kind of evolution with that? Is there an importance to having that?

Whit Taylor: Absolutely, I mean comics has always played a role in politics. People have always followed political cartoons often when it’s difficult to discuss something, or they need just a break to laugh at the absurdity of a situation. And I think that it’s unfortunate that, you know, we have to use comics in a way to deal with these situations, but it’s also allowed comics to flourish in the past year.

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I think there’s been a lot of really great journalism that’s kind of come out and also just like gag cartoons. So it’s unfortunate that we have to use comics in that way in a sense, but it’s also wonderful because it’s allowing artists have more opportunities to address issues that are important to them.

ComicsVerse: Could I ask a follow-up question? In what ways is it unfortunate that we have to use comics in this way? What other ways could comics be used?

Whit Taylor: Well, I feel like there’s probably a lot of stories that people would normally want to focus on if there weren’t more pressing issues. So I guess that’s what I’m trying to say is like I think right now we’re very focused on, you know, the Trump administration and all these are awful things that are going on in the world and some other things are being sidelined. But I think it’s important right now that there are so many people who are using comics as a form of activism.

ComicsVerse: So switching gears for a second, you’ve been self-publishing since 2011-ish, 2010?

Whit Taylor: Yeah, around then.

ComicsVerse: Have you seen anything change in how self-publishing is done? The reception of self-published works?

Whit Taylor: Sure, you know when I was starting off making comics… I don’t know. I think as a scene it was a little bit smaller, especially for like small press self-published stuff. And I feel like there’s been an explosion in the past few years in terms of just like the sheer number and even the quality I feel like has gone up in general, in terms of production values, and I think that’s cause people have more access to the means of production.

There are more comic schools teaching about comics, and I think in general the public is becoming more receptive to alternative forms of comics that aren’t just like newspaper strips, or superhero comics. So I do think that it’s expanded. There are way more shows. The community’s gotten larger. So I think it’s like a real- I think we’re in another Golden Age of comics honestly and I think it’s a really exciting time to be making work.

ComicsVerse: So what are the advantages of working in like a smaller independent publisher industry? Like what are the differences between working here as opposed to Marvel and DC? Is there any appeal on your front to work with those like bigger companies?

Whit Taylor: Sure. I’ve never, to be honest like I’ve never… It’s never been my goal to work for, like, something like Marvel or DC just cause like those are not necessarily the stories I want to be telling. I would love to like make an Archie comic because like that’s what got me into comics.

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But… So I have an appreciation for the bigger companies and like, you know, I’ve worked with publishers and different aspects… But I also like, regardless of whether I’m working with a larger publisher or not, I always want to do self-published comics because it gives me more control. It allows me to experiment with formats and storytelling styles. And also just to like serialized things instead of like committing to like a longer work for instance.

ComicsVerse: Absolutely. And final questions, speaking of other publishers, what can we be looking forward to seeing coming from you?

Whit Taylor: Sure. So I have a book coming out from Rosarium in January called GHOST STORIES. It’s a collection of some of my stories from 2015 to now all sort of thematically related. And just going to be doing some more self-publishing mini-comics for next year. Hopefully some stuff for The Nib in other places, and also I have an anthology out that I co-edited almost with Hazel Newlevant and Ø.K. Fox called COMICS FOR CHOICE. It’s at C.A.B. right now, and it’s a great collection about you know abortion rights, history, legal aspects, scientific stuff, and all the funds went to the National Network of Abortion Funds. So… yeah.

ComicsVerse: A wonderful cause, definitely something to check out. And Archie comics if you for any reason are watching this you need to hire her. Get her to do an Archie comic now. Thank you so much for your time Whit.

Whit Taylor: Thank you!

For more reviews, analyses, podcasts, and videos make sure to check out ComicsVerse.com. My name is Rachel Davis, and that was Whit Taylor, and we’ll see you next time!

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