The Oath Anthology of New Heroes is a queer superhero comic anthology by queer creators and is currently being backed on Kickstarter. Geeks With Wives had the opportunity to talk with two of the creators in the anthology, Jon Erik Christianson and E.A. Denich.
GWW: Thank you for taking the time to talk about your story ‘Change of Heart’ in The Oath! I’m very interested in how both of you got involved in this project and how you two came up with the idea.
Jon Erik Christianson: “Change of Heart” is a mad collection of story elements and ideas that’ve been bouncing around my head for some time. When Audrey Redpath, the editor for Oath, announced the anthology—I knew I had to pitch for it.
For the story, I wanted to work with someone who excelled at communicating humor and illustrating diverse body types. That’s why, as a fan of hers from various work online, I reached out to EA; we’d never actually interacted before.
I sent her my pitch, we chatted a bit, and she signed on! Happiest day ever. And the story grew from that point on.
EA Denich: Jon approached me out of the blue with a very polite and professional email, saying he was a writer in need of a comic artist for a story about queer superheroes. The idea for the anthology combined with the cute characters and story latched me on right away! The story and characters are all Jon’s, but we worked together to come up with appealing character designs, among other things.
GWW: What is something that you want readers to come away with from reading your story?
Jon Erik: The core tenet of “Change of Heart,” and Oath too, is to challenge the idea of who (traditionally) gets to be a hero. If readers can walk away with that perception challenged, I’d be elated.
Also, I fully expect them to walk away with anime heart eyes after gazing upon EA’s illustration. Anime heart eyes may last up to 48 hours; if they last longer, please read more of her work, because who doesn’t want anime heart eyes?
EA: Jon wrote some believable, likable teenagers who also happen to be gay and pansexual, but that’s not the point of their characters, rather, just one facet of who they are. In fiction, it seems more often than not that a queer character’s sexuality informs their personality and their whole story arc, instead of just being part of who they are- and on top of that, they’re usually idealized and Caucasian. In Jon’s words from the pitch, we wanted “to create a celebratory comic about two characters who might not normally get to become superheroes”.
We also wanted to celebrate body positivity, and just to make a fun comic about two friends. As trite as it may sound, the ultimate takeaway I’d like for our readers is “just be yourself, because you’ve got a lot to offer just the way you are.”
GWW: Now, looking at the character model images for Donyelle and Romeo, the two main characters in your story, I was really happy to see different body types than what is considered the norm for superhero characters. Was that a conscious decision or was it something that just happened as the story and the characters took form?
Jon Erik: Totally a conscious decision. Heroes don’t have to subscribe to a specific body image to A) be a hero or B) have the physical capacity to be a hero.
EA: Definitely a conscious decision. It was also a decision to make them both dancers and full-figured, because dancers come in all shapes and sizes and we wanted to reflect that. Both Jon and I were heavily inspired by Sione Maraschino and Allison Buczkowski, two dancers who kick tons of ass.
GWW: How much of your personal experiences were put into the story?
EA: I’ve spent entirely too much of my life at the mall, so I can definitely say there’s a little piece of ‘teenager me’ in there, somewhere. Trying on clothes that don’t fit, getting froyo, wanting to be a magical girl…
Jon Erik: EA pretty much nailed it for me too. I only wish my trips to the mall were so exciting!
GWW: Which of the characters, if any, do you identify with the most?
Jon Erik: Younger Jon relates primarily with Romeo, current Jon identifies pretty equally with Romeo and Donyelle. Donyelle’s more of a whole person at this point in the story; Romeo is very much still in early cookie dough baking stages.
Jon Erik: EA and I relate to characters through food and food metaphors, as you can tell.
GWW: Finally, where can we find both of you online?
Jon Erik: The best place to find me is on Twitter at @HonestlyJon. For my journalism work, feel free to check out my blog at honestlycomics.com.
EA: I have an art/drawing tumblr that can be found at ghostgreen.tumblr.com and a twitter at twitter.com/ghostgreeen!
GWW: Once again, thank you for talking to us at Geeks With Wives!
EA: Our pleasure, thanks for having us 🙂
Jon Erik: It was a delight! Also, people reading this interview—check out previews for the other Oath stories! You can find them on the Kickstarter page; I can assure you that they’re all most brilliant.
The Oath’s Kickstarter ends on September 16th, which is plenty of time to get all the money needed and to get some stretch goals reached. Read up on the campaign, and support this fantastic and beautiful anthology.