Women in comics is a hot button topic these days. It’s a conversation that needs to be had and its conclusion is more than likely near and dear to the heart of Stefani Manard, the Editor & Chief of Scape Goat Press. From characterization, storylines to the artwork itself there have been calls for more female inclusion in the industry. In a lot of ways the Indie comics scene has always had females in every facet of the creative process, perhaps it’s just now that the mainstream comic industry is just catching on to what we’ve known for years.
How long were you considering getting into comics and writing before you actually did it?
I’ve always been a writer, and when I chose to begin a career as one it started with comics. I went to work for a small publishing company in 2015, after years of blogging and podcasting, and I was blown away by the talent and excitement of working in the indie comic scene. So many great stories live here, and I wanted my stories to take root with them. It was a huge learning curve, and it still is, going to from prose to comics, but I have made some incredible friends in the industry that have assisted me on this journey.
The talent pool of comics; from writers to artist has often been considered a “boys club” for a number of years, did you encounter any industry resistance when you were coming in?
The only resistance I had stemmed from my own fear. Writing leaves you very raw; your heart is on your sleeve constantly and it is, at times, hard to put your characters and stories out for others to read. It is a frightening thing to create and let that creation breathe, and exist, outside of your head.
Being a woman hasn’t played too much of a role in my comic experience. I am a writer, and try to focus on that. On engaging people, on writing the best, most honest stories for myself, on constantly improving…those are the things that matter the most to me. That being said, I would be remiss not to mention the experiences that I have had. It is a long story, but the short of it is that there are some people who will assume certain things, or say certain things, because I am a woman, and my eyes have been opened a little wider. I will be writing a piece on this for my new blog, when it is ready on my website.
Any fan resistance/resentment?
None at all. I have met so many new people, and everyone is kind and supportive. Fans of horror are some of the most amazing people on the planet, and I love chatting with new people at conventions about our favorite books, films, etc. I have felt nothing but acceptance from fans and the indie community here in Michigan, as well as all over the world.
What advice would you give to other young ladies who are thinking about getting into the field?
I would only say this: be ready to work, to be disappointed, to have highs and lows, to hear negative things about characters and stories that are like your children, and to learn constantly. If you want to write, then do it fully and with abandon. Dig as deep as you can into yourself and write what makes you feel truly alive. There is no secret to being a writer. Putting pen to page is the first step, and that is that hardest part.
What’s the one thing that you did that you would advise them NOT to do?
Do not let one person’s opinion sway what you feel is right for your work. This doesn’t mean that shouldn’t be open to creative changes, especially when you work with an editor. But, even with your editor, you will know when something is important enough, relevant enough, to keep. There are elements that can get lost and change your work, and if you feel in your gut that something needs to stay, always speak for your story.
You’ve got a Podcast, tell us a little about it.
I am involved in two podcasts currently, The Way Station, which I have been doing for about 2 years now, and Shot of History, which we have been doing for about a year and a half. They are both on the Podcast Detroit Network, and they are both a lot of fun, yet very different.
The Way Station is hosted by myself and Megan Sarnowski, my best friend, and partner in crime, and we discuss pop culture, and we interview indie creators as well. We love that we have been able to support the indie community, whether it be comics, movies, novels…we want to be sure that creators have a voice and a place to share their stories.
Shot of History is hosted by myself, Trico Lutkins, and Devin Foether. We discuss history, drink shots, and just have a lot of fun. We have guests come on as well, from their respective fields, to discuss their historical passions. The show will teach you a lot, but it will make you laugh just as much. I have a blast with these guys!
You released Psychopath a comic that is pretty dark and I for one really enjoyed, for our readers who haven’t yet read it, tell us about it.
Psycho Path is a miniseries that looks at what makes a person do bad things. Each issue follows a different person and their path to breaking, but they are all tied together by one common thread. I have always been fascinated by serial killers, always interested in how the mind works. This series allowed me to pull from my psychology background, but it let me go overboard as well, which was interesting for me. It is VERY dark, but it also gives a bit of insight into why people do what they do, especially in issue 3.
Issue 2 was released earlier this year, and issue three is in production, with a release date of September, just in time for Monroe Comic-con. I am extremely proud of issue three, and the main character of 3, who we meet at the end of issue 2, holds a very dear place in my heart. She is a true psychopath, but is self-aware, and we learn a little about what it means to BE a Psycho Path. I can’t wait to share issue 3 with everyone.
You’re also involved with the novel NOD, what’s that about?
Nothing Sacred, Nothing Harmed, the first book of NOD, was just released from Scapegoat Press last month. It is written by Jason Chmielewski, one of my oldest and best friends, and it is a true labor of love. He has been writing this book for over 10 years, and it has finally come to fruition. I edited the book for content, as well as published it, and I like to think you can see my influence here and there within the pages.
The book is explained by the writer like this: Eighteen-year-old Raven Yamada lives an uneasy life. An outcast in school and distant from her family, she takes solace in her girlfriend Crow and best friend Steve. A trip to the doctor unravels what little stability she has left when she is chosen by the NOD Institute to take part in their human experimentation programs. As latent psychic powers began to develop within her, Raven serves as the catalyst for a series of events that unites her with the mysterious Mina and awakens a slumbering evil that threatens not just her, but the whole of humanity.
Is it more challenging writing comics or novels?
To me, comics are much more difficult. I have written prose for so long, and I am so used to having to write every little detail, that having to cut OUT detail and let the artist fill it in has been a real struggle. Every script I am learning more, and working with different editors has really helped me. My editors have taken my scripts to better places, and have given me much more confidence when it comes to script writing.
You were also in UFO The Otis Files! How’d that come about?
Trico and I are bffs, and he asked me to be in his movie. My part wasn’t in it originally, but he told me he really wanted to work with me and so he wrote me a part. I used to do a lot of stage acting, and I even wrote and directed a short film when I was in middle school (I wish I could find that VHS tape!!), and it is something that I really enjoy doing. Working with Tric on ANYthing is fun, and the film was just an amazing experience. Having a cast of amazing indie talent from Michigan made it even better. Michigan’s indie scene rolls deep, and it is an amazing thing to witness.
Any desires to do any more acting?
Yes, and it is all Trico’s fault! I am going to be acting in a short film written and directed by the uber talented Mara Powell, which we will be filming in August. The film is called Cannabis Cannibals, and it is going to be a bit bloody. I am also working on my own short film, titled Watching You, which will be out sometime next year. It is a horror short, and Trico and I have been talking about doing a horror anthology film, which this may be put in to. We shall see. Beyond that, time will tell! I love working in film and hope to continue to do so.
So you’re doing a ton of things, the podcast, the comic, you’re at a ton of comic conventions but you’re a very busy person, what’s coming up next from the ‘mind of Manard’…I just thought of that, if you use it you owe me a quarter each time you say it!
I have begun writing a series with Trico called The Aeonian, which I am immensely proud of. We are not sure when we are going to release it yet, but when it does we will be sure to get the word out. I am also writing a piece for a horror anthology, as well as putting a one shot horror comic into production the last quarter of this year. I am also in the beginning stages of writing another volume of Secrets Best Kept with Jason Chmielewski. So yeah, you could say that I am busy! I try not to push myself out too far, but I am going to be going on these projects until mid-2018, and I am sure I will pick up more along the way. I am so grateful to be this busy. I love writing and creating, so this is where my heart is.
If you want to keep up to date with all things Stefani, you can find her facebook here.
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