Gamer Girl & Vixen is an indy comic created and written by Kristi McDowell and Sean Ian Mills and drawn by Gemma Moody. It was embarrassing to admit that I hadn’t known about it before Mills got in touch though I was really glad that he did. What I discovered was fun and refreshing storytelling Featuring two very likeable characters. Reading about Gamer Girl & Vixen was a welcomed change of pace from much of today’s spandex clad superheroes! And then we had this chat. Enjoy!
Sean: Gamer Girl & Vixen is a supervillain lesbian love story. We want to take the familiar tropes of superhero comics and apply them to a story with LGBT characters, to make this kind of diversity ordinary. Specifically, it’s the story of Bianca Crowley, Vixen, who has been hiding her true self due to outside influences, like her overbearing mother.
When she meets Gamer Girl, she discovers a whole new world where she can finally be herself and embrace everything she wants to be.
GL: How did all of you meet and come to work together?
Kristi: Sean and I have known each other for many, many years. We started writing X-Men fan fiction together in an online roleplaying club. Eventually, our rapport was so strong that we started coming up with our own stories. Gamer Girl & Vixen was born of that writing relationship we built. Once we got the framework of the comic down, we started looking for artists. We met Aaron Bolduc through a friend of mine, and while he designed the characters, he was unable to commit to the project for scheduling reasons. But, fortunately, Gemma Moody responded to an ad of ours and we fell in love with her enthusiasm for the project and her adorable style.
Sean: Gemma was one of several candidates we were looking at after putting some ads online, but when she sent her own little cartoon of the characters, unprompted, we were hooked. She’s been our collaborator ever since. We also met letterer Taylor Esposito online, and we’re glad we did. Like a lot of beginners in comics, we did not yet know the power and the magic of proper lettering. We had no real plans in place. But when we started going public with our project on social media, Taylor, who worked for DC Comics at the time, saw our announcement and reached out to us. He was looking to do more indie work, and he’s opened his own lettering studio, Ghost Glyph Studios. He’s on a lot of projects now, and he raises the quality of Gamer Girl & Vixen to a real professional level. We couldn’t be happier with the team.
GL: What made you want to create a series and lead characters that stand out from everything else in the comics medium? As the creators of these characters, what feelings rise up for you?
Kristi: You sort of said it right there in the question. This series and these characters stand out. This is the sort of book I wish I’d been able to read as a teenager. I grew up nerdy and gay, which was pretty isolating, so when I realized that my favorite form of escape also didn’t represent me, it was crushing. Decades later, I finally have the chance to create something that might make someone else feel a little less isolated and it’s just incredible.
Sean: Kristi has been a huge inspiration for me in that regard. Growing up nerdy and straight, I didn’t recognize the lack of diversity, because everything was tailor-made for me. But now as an adult, after learning about her experiences, after seeing diversity start to take root in all forms of entertainment, I want to contribute to that landscape.
It amazes me that simple things like not having Black Widow action figures is the norm, or that having a gay wedding in X-Men comics was such a big deal only a few years ago. As a writer and a creator, I want to do what I can.
GL: The humor and playfulness you have going are real draws for me. What do you think about Gamer Girl & Vixen appeals most to readers?
Sean: I hope it’s the bright, colorful camaraderie between the two girls. I’ve always considered dialogue to be one of my strong suits, and when I’m writing back and forth with Kristi, it just pops. I hope that comes across between Liz and Bianca, and then Gemma’s bright, colored characters accentuate that playfulness even more.
GL: LGBT characters in mainstream comics seem required to be heroes for some time now, and with few exceptions are rarely more than supporting characters. will you talk about your decision to make both Gamer Girl & Vixen cat burglars? Were you intent on subverting any tropes about LGBT characters and representation or other stereotypes in general?
Kristi: Intent is kind of a strong word. I love bad guys, I love the freedom they have to throw convention to the wind and just do what they want. So I knew that whatever book I really dove into, it was probably going to be villains. But, that said, I knew that making a series about LGBT cat burglars was going to be a little tricky – there’s a fine line between creating a three-dimensional gay villain that people can relate to or even root for and a caricature that begs to be taken down by heroes and fans alike. We’re really challenging ourselves to look at the LGBT community in entertainment, particularly comics but not limited to them, and present it in a way that no one’s seen before. I think we live in a world where we can start painting our LGBT characters in shades of gray without demonizing them.
GL: Comics based movies and TV shows have gained so much popularity in the past few years. Who would you like to see cast as Gamer Girl & Vixen in a movie adaptation?
Sean: We had this one figured out way in advance: Anna Kendrick as Gamer Girl and Brittany Snow as Vixen. Kristi introduced me to Pitch Perfect, and I haven’t looked back since.
Kristi: In my head, Gamer Girl has always been Anna Kendrick. When Gemma came on board, she had the idea to make Gamer Girl so much taller than we’d imagined her, and it fit so well. But when the movie comes out and tiny little Anna Kendrick is playing our jolly gay giant, it’s going to be glorious. And her chemistry with Brittany Snow was so amazing in the Pitch Perfect movies, it would be a crime not to see that come to fruition on the big screen.
GL: As your involvement with the comic progresses what have you learned about the characters and yourselves as storytellers?
Kristi: It’s funny how you imagine your characters to be one thing when you conceptualize them but change over the course of the writing. When we first started, Vixen was supposed to be this stereotypical cheerleader type who loves her athlete boyfriends but surprises herself and everyone else by falling in love with Gamer Girl. But as Sean and I fleshed out the story, we realized that was probably the product of the fictional perfection her mother has forced upon her after her father went to prison. So the life she built was really to protect herself and even the boyfriends were part of this false reality. That elevated Gamer Girl’s role in the story to more than just a love interest but as the catalyst Vixen needs to start living her life more honestly. Which, of course, is ironic, because in her free time, she puts on a mask and robs from the rich and powerful of New York City. Throughout the course of this, I think Sean and I started to realize just how fluid and organic storytelling could be. What we imagined wasn’t what we ended up with and the result is so much better than we could have hoped for.
GL: When you’re not working on Gamer Girl & Vixen what sort of things attract your attention?
Sean: I think the usual things: new comics, fun new series, the next big comic book movie; I stay as plugged into the industry as much as I can, for the sheer fun of it all. I try to give every new comic starring a female character a try, because Marvel, especially, is putting out a lot of good stuff.
Kristi: Right now, when I’m not working on the comic, I’m wandering the Commonwealth in Fallout 4. Or playing any number of board games, with Munchkin being my favorite.
GL: You’re launching a new Kickstarter project for Gamer Girl & Vixen. What are your goals for it and can you tease about incentives? Will there be something to entice new people who missed out on the first one but want to back you this time around?
Sean: The biggest thing we’re doing this time is that we’re offering the entire first chapter of Gamer Girl & Vixen for free, for everybody to read. That way, if you missed out last time, and the project looks interesting, you can dive right in and see for yourself what the comic is like. We’ve done a lot of work so far, and the most important thing is that we want people to read and enjoy our comic. And if they love Gamer Girl & Vixen like we do, hopefully they will help us make more.
Kristi: Our goal is to make the graphic novel that Gamer Girl & Vixen was always meant to be. Our first campaign was to kind of test our audience and we were overjoyed to find how passionate people are to see something new in comics. We’ve already made the first three chapters, thanks to our first campaign. Now we need to make the last three and print the whole thing. We’ve really upped our incentive game this time around, bringing back fan-favorites as well as offering a HUGE reward to encourage other people to get out there and make comics, too.
All art by Gemma Moody.
And here’s their new Kickstarter campaign to check out!