Minnesota-based publisher 2dcloud has launched it’s quarterly crowdfunding campaign for its 2017 summer collection. 2dcloud has been using crowdfunding as a mechanism for pre-orders and to create curated book bundles. They’re a publisher from which you never know what to expect. They keep selecting new and innovative work to publish that always defy and satisfy your expectations. If you had told me that one of my favourite comics of 2017 would be a wordless graphic novel about two horned owls, I wouldn’t have really believed it. They have once again created a very interesting line up of comics featuring the works of a host of incredible artists.
One of the books I’m looking for in particular is the new short comic Kindling by Xia Gordon. It is described as a “love letter to the universe”. The work of Xia Gordon is wonderful. Her comics are introspective, abstract, and illuminating. We look for meanings in her abstractions and discover what her comics are about even as we learn more about ourselves and the author. The way the feelings she conjures permeates the reading experience. I was hard-pressed to find a comic that hit me as much A Cure for Madness at TCAF. I’ve had the pleasure of discovering Xia Gordon’s work during her reading of A Cure for Madness during the Altcomics 10 event at TCAF 2017. It was the standout event of the Festival for me, mostly because it dealt with mental health and relationship. The specifics of the comic itself drifted away in a hazy fog of memories by now, but the important part, the emotions and feelings, those will be with me for a long time.
I’ve reached out to Xia Gordon so she can tell us more about the comic. She has been kind enough to talk about Kindling, her abstract comic, use of colours and her upcoming comics.
Philippe Leblanc: For those readers who may not be familiar with you and your work, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Xia Gordon: Sure! I’m from Orlando, FL and I live in Brooklyn, NY. I studied Illustration & Cartooning at SVA but hadn’t considered cartooning until after college, for some reason. A good day for me is working my day job, and going home to draw and watch let’s plays.
PL: Kindling, your upcoming comics with 2dCloud, is described as a “love letter to the universe and to oneself” in an abstract comics with “hazy, gesture rich lines explore ideas on love, altruism, and self-sacrifice.” Can you tell us a little bit more about the conception of Kindling.
XG: Post-college, I had been trying to distill these super nebulous concepts that I was interested in – or at least they felt nebulous to me – into simple terms. For the longest time I felt like I was just trying to do too much. I felt like I was being kind of dishonest and over conceptualizing, which felt gross. My comic before Kindling (A Cure for Madness) was a stab at understanding my own mental health and Kindling was my attempt to work through what type of person I was. I was depressed and anxious and realized I didn’t like myself a ton. I had a tendency to self-martyrdom and sacrifice and I wanted to know why. So I made Kindling to hold a mirror up to myself and try to figure those things out. Making Kindling felt like I was taking a class on myself.
PL: Kindling is a very abstract work. I didn’t quite know what to make of it upon first reading it. Yet, it’s a beautifully engaging comic that lures the reader in to both decipher the story and experience it. What attracted you to tell your story in this particular way.
XG: I still don’t know what to make of it either! I made myself very vulnerable and hated it afterwards. I wondered a lot about the merit of a piece of work that was purely about yourself and your own issues. But I don’t know, I had to. I had to like, pop that pimple.
I’m huge fan of film so I think a lot of the things I read or watched about how films are structured went into how I told the story in Kindling. I imagined it reading like a really meditative, long, continuous take.
PL: With Kindling, you are focusing on two primary colours, blue and red. What made you decide to settle on these colours?
XG: I really like the idea of trying to push myself to simplify things as much as possible while still having an interesting image in the end. I felt like because I was trying to make a comic about something that felt so big to me, and because I wanted to work with the texture from pastels and charcoal, I wanted to make the color uncomplicated.
PL: I’ve first encountered your work during the live reading “Altcomics 10” event organized by 2dCloud during TCAF 2017. in which you did a live reading of A Cure for Madness, one of your self-published comics. How did you get involved with 2Dcloud?
XG: That was a fun night. Raighne ended up reaching out to me to work on something with 2dcloud. I was more than happy to because a year before I gushed about how beautiful their comics were at their table at CAB. I was very uncool. Glad they decided to take a chance!
PL: In addition to Kindling, you are also currently working on a comic called Murphy’s Law. Can you give us a bit details about this upcoming comics?
XG: I wrote the bulk of Murphy’s Law on the way back from TCAF this year. I was uncharacteristically not nervous at all at TCAF and then on the plane I realized that I actually was and had a panic attack. So I made a list of all the things that I was afraid of and decided it was good material for a comic. I figured facing them, writing about them, and making fun of them for a couple of months could maybe help me get over them – like a boggart. It hasn’t totally worked, but that’s okay
PL: What do you want your readers to take with them once they’ve read your comics?
XG: I want them to maybe think about how we’re a lot alike.
You can pre-order Kindling as well as the other fantastic graphic novels and comics from 2dcloud Summer 2017 publishing slate during their crowdfunding campaign. You can follow Xia Gordon’s work at her website or on Twitter. Xia also has a Patreon page to which you can contribute.
Philippe Leblanc is a Canadian comics journalist. In his regular life, he improves Canadian medical education, and is the co-host of the Ottawa Comic Book Club. He reads alternative, indie and art comics at night and write about them for the Comics Beat.