On Thursday, July 23rd, 2020 at 1:00 PM San Diego time, the prerecorded Insider Art: A Compendium of Comics, Crafts, & Cats for All Ages panel was released on YouTube.

The panel gave the editors of the massive anthology the opportunity to share more information about the project, which aims to offer relief to female and non-binary comic book retailers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Insider Art anthology is available digitally through Gumroad.

Drawing on the fact that people must remain indoors due to the pandemic, the structure of the Insider Art anthology is based on the layout of a house, with different editors being placed in charge of different rooms, including the Garage, the Kitchen, and the Basement. The comics and activities included in each section are based around a unifying theme that compliments whichever room of the house is that section’s namesake.

The panel was introduced by Mariah McCourt, editor of the Attic section of the anthology, and she introduced veteran comic book editor Shelly Bond, who set the project into motion and edited the Garage section. Also on the panel was Nicole Boose, who edited the Bathroom section, Chris Simon, who edited the Kitchen section, Elizabeth Brier and Megan Brown, who co-edited the Basement section together. And there are two United Kingdom-based editors who worked on the project but were unable to make an appearance on the panel: Chrissy Williams, who edited the (all-ages) Bedroom section, and Sofie Dodgson, who edited the Craftroom section. Also making an appearance on the panel was Jen King, Insider Art’s retailer liaison.

Finally, the last room of the anthology is the Living Room, an eclectic section that was completed through the collaborative efforts of the Insider Art editorial team.

Mariah McCourt

McCourt explained how the stories in the section she edited reflected the section theme.

“The attic, my room, I sort of approached as a treasure trove of things that have yet to be discovered,” said McCourt. “Memories, different things that you might not always think about and discover on your own as you kind of explore. And some people used it very literally, and some people used it very metaphorically.”

McCourt was especially pleased with the way the different sections each had their own individual flavor, but came together to form a cohesive whole.

Bond explained that the initial idea emerged at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as she was searching for a way she could help those in need.

“Like so many people, I’m broke, and I though, how can I help the greater good?” said Bond. “How can we actually look after female and non-binary comic book retailers? Because let’s face it, all businesses were losing money, especially small businesses, and comics were first and foremost in my heart.”

She connected with King, and they began working on the foundation of Insider Art, which eventually grew to include the efforts of over 142 creators. The creators that took part in the project came from all over the world, so the anthology represents a global collaboration.

Shelly Bond

“The fact that we were able to do an anthology of this massive size, that’s just a feat in any age, at any time,” said Bond. “But in under three months? During a global pandemic? I think we all deserve five stars and trophies, because that is quite a feat, and we could only do it because we were working together. And I think Insider Art celebrates the beauty of comics as an art form, and what we can all do when we just put our heads together and work for the greater good, work for one cause.”

In addition to the anthology, Insider Art also has two additional prongs.

First, there is the fabric jam on Spoonflower. If creators did not have the availability to contribute a full story to the Insider Art anthology, they were asked if they could provide a single drawing of a cat. Then, the various cat drawings were collected together into three different fabrics, which you can purchase online through Spoonflower.

The final prong is the Facebook shopping network aspect of the project, which provides online auctions to raise funds.

Jen King

“The reason why we started that part was because we needed funds to start moving a little more quickly,” said King. “We didn’t know when we started how long the anthology would take to put together and coordinate and get to a place where it could start raising funds. My skill is in selling things, as a retailer, so we used the skills to ask friends, family, artists, creators, publishers if they could donate objects that we could put on the comic book shopping network and eBay and try to raise funds right away that we could start to disperse to retailers that we are supporting, and that’s worked really, really well.”

Everything appears first on the Facebook group Comic Book Shopping Network, and then the items immediately go to the Space Cadet’s Collection eBay page and use the words “Insider Art Charity Fund.”

To hear more from the editors about some of the individual pieces and different rooms included in the Insider Art collection, check out the full video of the panel on YouTube.

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