Out artist Tana Ford went from self-publishing comics a few years ago to mainstream comic book work for Marvel and DC. She's a versatile creator who can rock both slice-of-life comic books and the tights and flights flair needed in a superhero story.
The Advocate sat down for a chat with this exciting artist about her inspirations, her future, and how important it is to represent her lesbian life experiences and community in her work.
The Advocate: What inspires you to create? Ford: When it comes to my comic work the driving force behind my stories was the utter lack of lesbian representation. Alison Bechdel did some amazing things with her Dykes to Watch Out For series, but that was all there was when it came to slice-of-life lesbian stories. I am from different generation than Alison so what I knew to be true about queer culture and lesbian community was inherently different than the stuff that was out there. There was nothing contemporary. I wanted to see an accurate reflection of my experience someplace, so, that's what compelled me to start making my self-published graphic novel Duck.
Does being queer influence your artwork? Oh, without a doubt. As does being female, as does being white. Who we are in the world informs us, it shapes our lens. I am the granddaughter of an Irish immigrant who grew the most fragrant roses in the salt air of New England. That means something. I think it is important to bring who we are to the work we make, it humanizes things, I would argue that it makes them richer.
What was your gateway art drug into the world of geek culture? Do you count television as art? Because the earliest thing for me was Star Trek: The Next Generation. I got hooked back when I was in middle school or early high school and I remember not wanting any of my friends to find out. It was super nerdy back then. My mom got hooked at some point (probably because I was watching the show religiously, every night after dinner) and we had some really cool chats about the characters. It was great to be able to talk to someone about it. After that, it was TheUncanny X-Men comic book that got me. The X-Men was my gateway drug into comics, for sure.
What geeky things are you currently obsessed with? Neil Gaiman's new Sandman Overture series is high up on my list. As is Saga. I wanted to know what all this fuss with Dr. Who was all about, so I started doing that thing where you binge-watch a show until your eyes go crossed and your girlfriend would like you to please start talking about anything else, please! I started in the Matt Smith era and wound up chewing through all of the David Tennant stuff and some of the Eccleston episodes before I had to move on to something else.
What's next for you, what project(s) do you have coming out in the near future? I just did my first Marvel comic book work with Avengers: No More Bullying, which features a Guardians of the Galaxy short story with art by me, written by Jodi Houser. That was really fun to work on. I got to try my hand at drawing space stations and aliens and Star-Lord himself wearing an "I'm Not Dare Devil" tee shirt.
After that I have my first ever comic at DC coming out. A mini inside the newly relaunched Strange Sports Stories. Amy Chu is writing and it features an alien prison, a human girl and dodge ball to the death!
And, most exciting, is the news that later this year I've got my first ever mainstream comic coming out from Vertigo! Amy Chu is writing and I am handling all the art (pencils and inks). It is still in the development stage so there's not much I can say other than it's going to take place in modern day Brooklyn and it's going to be awesome!
You must have a favorite superhero character, right? Who might it be?
Greg Rucka's Batwoman a.k.a Kate Kane. Hands down.