Welcoming Camilla Zhang to Kickstarter’s Publishing & Comics Team
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Today we’re excited to announce that Camilla Zhang has joined Kickstarter as Comics Outreach Lead. As a creator herself, Camilla’s work has been published by Top Cow, Reading with Pictures, and Crossed Genres. She’s also worked with Marvel, Mad Cave, Reading with Pictures, and DC Comics, where she helped edit the entire Before Watchmen series, Batman: Black & White Vol. 4, Batman: Death by Design, and Batman: Noël. And last year, she was selected to be in Marjorie Liu’s Genre Fiction workshop at VONA, an organization for writers of color.
With over 6,300 zines, webcomics, community events, graphic novels, and more funded since our launch in 2009, the Comics category on Kickstarter is vibrant and diverse. Camilla’s breadth of experience in the comics world makes her an excellent addition to the team. And her passion for promoting empathy, inclusion, and equality through storytelling make her a great person to support, educate, and celebrate the wide range of creators bringing projects to life here.
Check out the Q&A below to get to know Camilla.
What drew you to comics as a storytelling medium?
I cut my teeth on Archie and the newspaper funnies. My mom used to co-run a deli and any unsold newspapers were mine to keep, so I clipped my favorite strips and saved them in a binder. As a kid, I loved how clever they could be in just a few panels. Each was a story beat. What’s more, only comics could achieve the exaggerated facial expressions and body language that really make sense for kids. They made me laugh and characterization was more immediate and accessible.
Later, I got into manga and Batman, the Animated Series, which opened me up to mainstream comics like Birds of Prey. I became obsessed with Cassandra Cain’s run as Batgirl. It was my first time since seeing Trini in Power Rangers (which is its own can of worms) that an Asian-American woman like me was represented as a hero. Reading about her struggles and triumphs felt incredibly validating. And the way Damion Scott drew action sequences and facial expressions (this was hard since Cass’s mask covered her entire face!) was awe-inspiring.
My tastes eventually leaned toward Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and more indie titles like Joe Sacco’s Palestine. It was amazing to see how comics could be stretched to tell all kinds of stories, from the dark and fantastical to the journalistic and slice of life. And finally, through Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, I saw how comics could be poetic and metaphorical, not just as a whole, but down to a single panel.
On a cultural level, what inspires me most about the medium is that it gives independent creators — especially those who have been marginalized — the power to foster a more empathetic society, one that celebrates multiplicity: diversity within diversity, if you will. For example, while Asian-Americans share similar experiences, each is still different. It’s the multiplicity of people’s stories that is beautiful. And it is multiplicity that dissolves stereotypes.
The comics medium pushes and leads the cultural zeitgeist, which spills into mainstream media like TV and film, thereby encouraging a larger audience to recognize nuance and empathize with those who seem different from them. Comics trends have shown that fans are hungry for inclusive stories by diverse creators and not just for diversity’s sake. I think they recognize that it’s bigger than sales and buzzwords. It’s holistic. It’s about changing the world.
What are a few of your favorite Kickstarter funded comics?
The ELEMENTS: Fire, and Boy, I Love You anthologies are some of my favorite Kickstarter-funded comics to date. Made by creators of color, the former is a fire-themed comics collection that includes stories about hot sauce that transforms you into a dragon and spells that burn away bad memories. The latter is a shorter Yaoi-inspired anthology, featuring both slice-of-life boy love stories and space mecha romance. The artists and writers in these books are so talented and their stories are truly unique, ranging from heartwarming to heart-wrenching (in a good way!). They’re really aligned with the whole “multiplicity” idea I mentioned.
What are you excited about doing with the Comics community on Kickstarter?
I am STOKED to raise up the comics community, especially marginalized creators. As a queer woman of color, it’s a very personal mission of mine to highlight LGBTQIA and PoC comics writers and artists. But specifically, I want to nurture those who may not be confident when it comes to self-promotion. There are so many talented people out there who deserve a larger audience. I think that, often, artists and writers can be shy and unsure about how to market themselves. I’d love to use my experience and new role to help with that.
What’s one great comic you recommend?
Mis(h)adra by Iasmin Omar Ata. The graphic novel is about an Arab-American college student who struggles with epilepsy. The book has a very illustrative quality where ideas about fear and illness take on symbolic forms. The story beats are expertly timed, sometimes with black pages and palette changes. I actually read this while I was going through a bout of depression and it resonated deeply with me. It made me think a lot about self care, self love, and how it’s important to let those who care about us actually care for us. We aren’t weak for accepting or asking for help.