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Kendra Wells Talks About Real Hero Shit

Kendra Wells is the creative force behind the Real Hero Shit graphic novel that was recently launched as a Kickstarter crowdfunder through C Spike Trotman’s Iron Circus Comics company. You may have seen Wells’ work at The Nib, in comics from Book, Dark Horse, and Lion Forge, and the Sirens of the Sea graphic novel in collaboration with Sam Maggs. Wells graciously took time to speak with Gay League about Real Hero Shit, a queer fantasy romp about three adventurers and their new recruit, a playboy prince who may or may not be half demonic but probably is, as they venture on a new quest.

Gay League: Hello, Kendra! Thanks for taking time out to talk with Gay League. The Kickstarter for your graphic novel Real Hero Shit opened on Monday and was fully funded in just a few hours! How does that feel?

Kendra Wells: Completely unreal. This book was such a self-indulgent passion project for me and I was really, really hoping it resonated for other people too, so to have this kind of reception is incredible. I have been in shock all day.

GL: Reading one of your past interviews I noticed you mentioned the idea for Real Hero Shit started back in 2017. Tell us how the idea came to you and did Eugene, Michel, Ani, or Hocus change at all during the past several years? At any time during this period did any of them speak up to tell you how they wanted to be written?

KW: Remarkably, the four characters have changed very little since their inception. Eugene was the first, with the main idea of his character being “spoiled prince, mama’s boy, bisexual demon”. Ani, Hocus, and Michel came next, and aside from a couple small design details (Ani’s birth mark used to be on the other side, Michel had earrings, Hocus used a pike instead of a hammer), they’ve pretty much stayed the same. That being said, there are a number of plot-related things and identity-related things that have developed over time. I can’t spoil most of them yet as I want to let them marinate until I can reveal them in the story, but an example I can share is Hocus’s gender identity. Hocus was a non-binary character from the start, but I realized early on that ‘they/them’ pronouns didn’t feel quite right. I was inspired by my friend Maia Kobabe’s autobiographical comics about using neopronouns (Maia uses e/em/eir), and using that inspiration as a jumping point to develop a gender and pronoun system from Hocus’s culture in the story. Now Hocus uses e/em/es pronouns (they/them in a pinch).

GL: RHS is a fun and compelling read that works perfectly as a stand alone story while at the same time it left me wanting more from these characters. What was it like for you to bring Eugene, Michel, Ani, and Hocus to life? How do they speak to you? Do you think you might be drawn to telling new stories about them?

KW: I’m very glad to hear that! When I initially pitched Real Hero Shit to Iron Circus, I wanted to make sure that the single book could stand on its own since I had no idea if it would get picked up for sequels. Truth be told, I have a massive Google Doc full of worldbuilding and story notes, and at least two or three more books in the back of my mind, so I would absolutely love to do more. It’s incredible to see these characters come together, but there is so, so much more to them that I want to share. This book barely scratches the surface of each of their inner monologues, and readers will note that there are little Easter eggs and hints to deeper storylines for each of the characters. I really hope I get to do more RHS!

GL: Your work has appeared at comics publishers such as Boom, Dark Horse, and Lion Forge and media outlets like The Nib. RHS is your first solo, long form graphic novel. From a creative process point of view, what were the challenges and rewards for you working long form?

KW: The primary challenge is comics are a ton of work, and incredibly challenging as a medium! I was lucky enough to have just finished Tell No Tales: Pirates of the Southern Seas with Sam Maggs, a friend of mine and author of the book. It was a real gauntlet in comics making, and I am so thankful I got to cut my teeth on it before tackling a big project alone. On one hand, it’s amazing to have almost complete creative control over Real Hero Shit, but on the other- it’s completely terrifying! My butt is, creatively, on the line and I need to be sure I am making something I can stand behind. I am so grateful for my team at Iron Circus for challenging me and believing in me and helping me make this book as good as it possibly could be.

GL: Do you have any tips or advice for someone reading this who either wants to work in comics or is maybe struggling artistically at the moment?

KW: My thesis with Real Hero Shit has been “what would happen if I just made the comic that I wanted to read, and did all the self-indulgent things that I want to do, and say boo to the rest”. I have been very lucky in my career, but I was paralyzed with fear over making my own work because I spent ages trying to figure out what everyone else wanted from me. That mentality is a fast track to burning out and chasing your own tail. Real Hero Shit was me putting everything else down and making something for me. I just had to put my heart and soul into it and hoped that it resonated with other people, too. It’s not a perfect equation, there is no quick way to beat the system and achieve success but even if Real Hero Shit crashed and burned, I made it knowing I had done the exact book I wanted to make, and I could rest easy knowing I made it from the heart. You just have to be on your own bullshit as hard as humanly possible and the rest can come later.

GL: Thank you again for your time, Kendra! Where can people find you and more of your work?

KW: I am on twitter and instagram at @kendrawcandraw, and if you’re so inclined you can support me with a monthly pledge to my Patreon at!

The Kickstarter closes October 29th, 2021 at 8:00 CDT.

Many thanks to Superfan Promotions for providing the images!

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