‘Strange Wit’ to Bring Queer Lit to Light: A Comic on Jane Bowles

GameStop, Inc.
A Picture of Jane Bowles

A Picture of Jane Bowles

In the comic book industry, we have seen many historical figures receive a biographical comic; in some cases a very odd twist in history where certain figures rise from the dead as zombies. A while ago I heard about a new comic from the writer Katy Rex, and she was researching a woman named Jane Bowles. My own adventures into the internet gave me insight into some very little information, and some information conflicted with other sources, so this just picked at my interest more but I soon stopped thinking about it, with life rearing its ugly head. Before I knew it though, a Kickstarter was set up and the comic was more than well on its way to make its debut with a collective team of over a dozen talented people from the comic book industry, including Tyler Jenkins, Marguerite Sauvage, and Taylor Esposito to name a few.

Me: First off, thank you for doing this interview. How did you first hear about Jane Bowles?

Katy Rex: I was working at a call center, and avoiding work as much as possible by spending my time in online queer activism communities. I’m not sure if it was Wikipedia or some equally distracting website, but I wandered down a series of links and ended up on a list of unknown-but-deserving queer artists. Jane’s name caught my eye, and I was hooked.

Me: Did anyone help you research Bowles along the way, or was this sort of your solo venture?

KR: The main “people” who have helped me are my fellow researchers—but I put the word people in quotes because their help has been in the form of their books (and I think I’ve read almost all of them). My research has been really self-directed, though.

ME: Which is your personal favorite of Bowles Work?

KR: A favorite?! How could I pick?! Honestly, though, it depends on my mood. Last time I was asked this, I think I said A Quarreling Pair, which is a surreal puppet play, but today I think my favorite is a fragment of a short story from her notebooks, an unpublished piece called Andrew. That story will be in Chapter Five with art from Adam Gorham. It follows a young man as he moves away from home, joins the army, and falls in love with one of the other soldiers he meets at basic. It’s got a bittersweet melancholy quality to it, and even though it’s very brief, it’s filled with so many truly touching moments.

Me: Strange Wit. How did you come up with this as the title?

KR: It actually comes from a Truman Capote quote: “My only complaint against Mrs. Bowles is that she publishes so infrequently. One would prefer larger quantities of her strange wit, thorny insight. Certainly she is one of the really original pure stylists.” Of the defining things about Jane, the ones that fascinate me the most are the way so many people we consider to be the Greats of their era admired her and the way nearly everyone used some variant of the word “strange” when describing her. I wanted to choose a title using someone else’s words because I find the notion of biography fascinating—it’s never about how we see ourselves, is it? But there’s so much more (and sometimes less) than we show the world.

jane character sheet_col_sm

ME: Explain the lay out of the comic, and where it’ll go. Why is this different than any other work on Jane Bowles?

KR: First of all, there isn’t really much work on Jane Bowles to compare this to. If you’re looking only for books that center on Jane as a single subject, there are two. One is a biography (A Little Original Sin by Millicent Dillon) and the other is a collection of academic essays (A Tawdry Place of Salvation edited by Jennie Skerl). She features as a side character in a number of things, including Tangier Love Story (Carol Ardman) and February House (Sherill Tippins), but my book will be joining a relatively small canon.

That said, I do think that the format is pretty unique. Jane’s stories are all painfully autobiographical, and they were her way of processing and working through a lot of her circumstances, so I selected particular stories that fit well with parts of her life and have alternated them with her biography. For instance, chapter one is a kind of a growing-up story, and the short story that accompanies it, A Stick Of Green Candy, centers around the death of childish imagination and faith. Jane poured herself into her characters, took opposing parts of her self and put them in characters that disagreed, and let them have it out to see who would win. It’s really amazing to see in conjunction with her actual biography, to see how raw and real her odd and surreal stories could be. Each one of the short stories will feature work from a different artist, but there is one colorist and one letterer/designer that will unify the book as one piece. It’ll feel a little like an anthology, a little like a single graphic novel, a little nonfiction, a little fiction, and it’ll generally kind of defy easy description—sort of like Jane.

Me: By the way, I noticed you have a large team. How did you bring them all together? How did they feel about this project?

KR: Some people on the team I had a past relationship with, so I reached out to them first—I had, at one time, interviewed Ryan Kelly for my show (for example) and we live in the same city, so he was one of the first people I contacted. I also threw volleys of emails at people I had met once or twice at conventions, and even blind-approached some people I had never met before, like Tyler Jenkins and Beatrice Penco Sechi. I got way more rejections than acceptances, which is to be expected, but everyone I approached, regardless of their ability to do the project, thought that the idea was really interesting. Everyone who is on board today is here for Jane first, because she’s such an inspiring character.

Me: Did you expect your Kickstarter to be as successful as you thought it would be?

KR: I am astounded with every day that goes by. I feel so happy and so privileged that so many people are interested in my book and in Jane’s life. Going in, I was really hopeful, because I know that this topic—invisible women—is a conversation the comics community has been having lately, but I also know that I’m not a well-known name (and for that matter neither is Jane). It really touches my heart that there seems to be a positive response to this project so far.

Me: Assuming everything goes as scheduled, when can we expect the first chapter to release and where will we find it?

KR: The first chapter is fully scripted and I plan to have it printed by mid-October. AFTER I finish sending out Kickstarter rewards, I will have it available in my online store at strangewit.com. I promised Kickstarter people first dibs, though, so the online store will wait. Also, if you’re planning on attending any of the same conventions as me, I’ll be the nerd with the backpack full of unsold comics, so just hit me up and I’ll sell you one on the spot. Bonus- no shipping!

Me: Anyone special you want to thank for making this comic happen?

KR: This project would not have happened without Taylor Esposito. He’s been there from the very beginning—from the moment I first thought of turning my obsession with Jane into a comic book. He talked me through every stupid panic attack I had, walked me through formatting, talked out how to match artists with short stories. I’ve been joking about how he’s my “comics therapist,” but he’s so invested in this project. Other than myself, he’s the one most in the thick of it every day. And I don’t honestly know if I would have had the courage to try to write about Jane if he hadn’t pushed me.

You can find out more about the project at their website: strangewit.com , and you can contact the writer on Twitter @thekatyrex

The Full Creative team includes Tyler Jenkins (artist), Marguerite Sauvage (artist/cover), Taylor Esposito (letterer/designer), Kelly Fitzpatrick (colorist), Kirsten Thompson (editor), Adam Gorham (artist), Anne Maxson (artist), Beatrice Penco Sechi (artist), Betsy Peterschmidt (artist), Dom Sole (artist), Inés Estrada (artist), Joshua Hixson (artist), June Vigants (artist), Kate Lacour (artist), Ryan Kelly (artist), and Sean Von Gorman (artist).

Anytime Costumes

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Disney’s ‘Young Woman and the Sea’ is a Triumph of Will – Review

Disney’s ‘Young Woman and the Sea‘ is a Triumph of Will...

‘Skywalkers’ Takes Love to New Heights on Netflix – Spoiler Free Review

‘Skywalkers: A Love Story‘ Takes Love to New Heights while Scaling...

‘Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part Three’ – Leaves us Wanting More! – Spoiler Free Review

‘Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part Three‘ is a...

Event News Event Reviews
‘Sweat’ Heats Things Up at the Long Beach Playhouse – Review

‘Sweat‘ delivers a powerful theatrical experience that resonates long after the...

The ‘California Dreams’ Band Reunite on The Sunset Strip For a Night of 90s Nostalgia – Concert Review

Don’t Wake Me Up if I’m Dreaming, The ‘California Dreams‘ Band...

Jay Anthony Franke Talks California Dreams Reunion Concert in LA – Interview

Jay Anthony Franke Talks About The ‘California Dreams‘ Reunion Concert in...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Derek Gumin Talks Planet 13 and UFC 303 Meet and Greets – Interview

Director of Wholesale Accounts at Planet 13, Derek Gumin spoke about...

Oscar De La Hoya Partners with El Rey for ‘Friday Night Fights’ – Interview

The Golden Boy himself chatted with us about Golden Boy Promotions...

Olympic Runner Colleen Quigley ‘On The Road to Paris’

Team USA Olympic Runner, Colleen Quigley is On The Road to...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – Blood on the Cactus, nearing the end of the 3rd act.

What IS that big dust cloud on the horizon?

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – Blood on the Cactus, Endgame


Fantoy Comics Presents: A 4th of July Message!

Seriously, America, THIS crap?!?!?

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs & Sketches’ – Interview

Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs &...

Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her Career in the Arts

First Generation Assyrian-Chaldean, Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her...

Louden Swain Headlining Los Angeles Show at The Echo

Press Release – Louden Swain are headlining Los Angeles show at...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Gameplay Trailer

The first Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gameplay trailer was revealed during...

Wonder Woman Game
Wonder Woman Game Announced By DC and WB Games

Wonder Woman game will feature the iconic hero in a 3rd...

MultiVersus brings Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny, and More

MultiVersus is bringing Shaggy, Harley Quinn, Jake, Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny,...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Michael Hirsh Made Gen X Citizens Via his ‘Animation Nation’ – Interview

Legendary Animator, Michael Hirsh goes from Immigrant to Emperor in his...

Billy Eddy Talks His new Book ‘Our New World of Adult Bullies’ – Interview

Lawyer, Mediator and Personality Expert Bill Eddy Provides a Six-Step Strategy...

Gary Morgenstein Talks ‘A Dugout to Peace’ the Final Installment of his Trilogy

Gary Morgenstein Talks About ‘A Dugout to Peace‘ the final installment...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand Demo

The new ‘Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand‘ is ready to ship...

Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the ‘Good Flour’

Canadian Super Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the...

Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

The Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is now available to help...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...