Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Painted! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of this story, and what was your inspiration?
Helen Mullane: Thank you! We’re very proud of what we’ve created and can’t wait to share it.
Painted is about a young woman, Sophie, looking back on her teenage self, trying to make sense of some of the life-changing events of her past. When she was young she was friends with Selene, an absolute firebrand who she loved and looked upto. But when Selene becomes the victim of some horrible bullying and public shaming, events begin to spiral out of control and their friendship is pushed to its limit.
This is a story that explores some really difficult topics but also the joy of friendship and the whole crazy range of experiences of being a teen. Kev had a lot of the story in place when I came on board, but I found his premise really inspiring. I loved that it was both serious and genuinely funny, with such a great cast of flawed but lovable characters that I responded to immediately.
BD: How would you describe your shared creative process working with co-writer Helen Mullane and artist Katia Vecchio to bring this story to life?
Kev Sherry: It kinda felt like being in a band. You bring the sketch of a song to the band and everyone adds their own perspective and skills and suddenly this thing is born that is far greater than what you initially imagined it could be. My original concept for Painted took an entire new life when Katia got involved, who not only created the visual world, but was also highly important in making sure the story and characters were real and the female perspective was true to life. When Helen came onboard, it felt like a virtuoso musician had just joined the writing team. She tightened the ship and added her own intellectual and creative fire to the battle against misogyny and patriarchy. I couldn’t have been luckier in working with two such amazing talents like Katia and Helen.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Selene and Sophie’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
HM: We touch on so many issues in Painted that are really timely and important. Especially for younger teens, periods are still a taboo, an eurgh gross thing that causes shame for girls, and our first period still comes as a shock for many. Insane considering it happens to literally half the population of the entire world. And I think this one powerful emotion, shame, is touched on in all sorts of ways throughout the book. Various characters feel it in ways that lead them to make choices that they later regret. I think it’s a great thing to put that in front of readers, especially younger readers, and say look - here - it’s not just you. Everybody feels that, and when you stop letting a fear of ridicule or whatever else make your decisions for you, you will be free and powerful.
BD: Kev, your career has spanned a variety of mediums, from sharing your voice and story through music to counterculture journalism and now to the sequential art medium. How do you feel that your experience in sharing stories or your creative process has evolved as you worked in various mediums?
KS: I think you just get better (or at least more confident) the more you do it and the more you spread your wings into other genres. These days I don’t feel any difference in creating stuff between music and comics. (Perhaps it’s some kind of synesthesia on my part?) I feel like I’m hitting a creative peak in my life right now. Certainly, the creative fire of Painted is spilling into other areas of my life. My new side project, Disco Mary, is releasing a single on October 6th called "Kids Games" which is inspired by the characters in Painted.
BD: Katia, how would you describe your approach to bringing the world and characters of Painted to life, and do you find that there are any ways that you adapt or evolve your artistic style to each new project?
Katia Vecchio: When Kev and I were starting to work on Painted, we thought that although it was a powerful comic with serious topics, it needed a fresh style with bright colors - an "innocent" style to recall those years that are an integral part of growing up. I usually adapt my style according to the genre of a story, for example in a thriller comic I prefer to use a heavy ink, instead of clean line art on dramatic stories with teenagers as protagonists.
BD: What made Humanoids the perfect home for this project and your collaboration with the creative team?
KV: Humanoids, in addition to giving us a lot of trust in the project, gave me a lot of freedom in the creative process. This is very important to me. And, to be honest, I’m still amazed to think that I have worked with them! I feel very lucky. Also collaborating with Kev and Helen was a great team effort. We immediately found ourselves in tune with each other, we talked about ideas on how to evolve the story and finally we set down all the ideas we had. Working with a team is really cool, especially when you are on the same wavelength.