#BlackComicsMonth – Day 13 – Interview: Mildred Louis

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BlackComicsMonthSpotlight

Today’s spotlight comic creator is Mildred Louis. She’s a freelance illustrator with a background in traditional animation. She’s currently working on publishing Agents of the Realm, a Magical Girl inspired web comic series three times a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, and  a straight to print Semi-high fantasy story called Bound Blades, launching early 2016. Mildred can be found on her site, art blog, and personal website. If you enjoy her work and want to continue to support, you can donate to her Patreon page! But for now, let’s jump into the interview…

What or who has been a major inspiration for you when create comics?

A lot of what inspires the stories I make actually come from the kinds of stories and shows I watched growing up. I always loved stories of ordinary people becoming heroes, discovering new unexplored worlds, etc. So it’s cool to be able to kind of take the things I loved, and shape them into the kinds of stories that I wish I had seen throughout my life.

Mildred Louis

Mildred Louis

How does nerd culture play a part in how you create your art?

Well, I grew up in nerd culture so it’s kind of impossible to not have it influence what I do. I had two older brothers that served as an introduction to video games, comics, the sci-fi and fantasy genre, and anything else you could think up. Even though I’m not as intensely wrapped up in it as I was when I was younger, it’s definitely still, in some ways, a part of everything I do.

What is your stance on Black presence in the art world, especially in comics?

The more, the merrier. As far as I’m concerned, the art and creative worlds could use more diverse voices. For so long we’ve allowed a very specific kind of voice to dictate the kinds of narratives that we ingest on a day to day basis and in this day and age … why is that still the case?

What advice do you have for those hoping to break out in comics and visual art?

If you want to do it, then do it. There’s no real tip toeing or side stepping into it. It’s a serious commitment if you want to make it work. The cool thing about comics today is that “breaking in” isn’t really a thing anymore. It’s so easy to make a website or even a Tumblr to upload your comic on. Find a story that you want to share with everyone and just go for it.

What does Black History mean to you?

Black History is every day to me. It didn’t stop at the Civil Rights movement like schools want you to think. We’re still doing a lot, we’re still moving forward, we’re still changing the world in so many ways!

How was your journey from beginner to the comic artist and writer that you are today?

Tumultuous, to say the least. My journey to get here has been more like a battle, struggling a lot with myself creatively and getting comfortable in my creative skin. I spent a lot of time trying to force myself to be a creator that I thought I needed to be instead of actually being the kind of creator that I wanted to be. Getting to where I am right now basically involved me reverting to what I liked as a kid and letting go of a lot of the expectations that I developed as I got older of what being an artist and writer meant.

Agents of the Realm

Agents of the Realm

 Switching gears a bit, let’s talk more about your work Agents of the Realm. What was it like working on that comic? 

It is FUN. Like REALLY fun. Like I REALLY love working on it. Anyone who knows me really well knows that I have a history of burning out on projects. I get super pumped, start working and then immediately lose interest. Agents of the Realm is, in a lot of ways, an experimental project. I forced myself to change my work mentality, changed my attitude towards committing to a long term project and made myself learn to temper my enthusiasm. It’s also been so much fun developing each of the characters and discovering more about who they are. I’m at that point now with working on it where each of the girls in some ways have started writing themselves and have started moving in directions that I didn’t initially expect when first developing it.

*What is the one thing you want readers to take away from by reading Agents of the Realm?

You deserve to surround yourself with people who love and respect you for who you are. I think it’s easy to get into this mindset that you need to be liked and sometimes, unfortunately, that can cause you to create a lot of unhealthy bonds with people who don’t appreciate you. When you have a really genuine support system set up in your life, you start realizing just how much you’re capable of.

News broke a few weeks ago that Milestone Media has come back to the comic game. How do you think this will impact diversity in comics?

I think that’s awesome! I think they’ll do a good job with helping create a home for a lot of Black creators who want their voices heard. Really looking forward to what they bring us next!

What do you think is one of the keys to establishing more visibility for Black artists and creatives?

Support them. Any time you come across a Black creator you like, make sure you let them know and make sure you help get the word out. I feel like people don’t realize sometimes that being a PoC creator can be somewhat isolating. Outside of the creative field, we live in a world that makes no effort to listen to us, so entering a field where you can express yourself and be open about who you are can be intimidating because it build this mentality where you go into it thinking that no one’s going to care about what you do since you already face so much apprehension and tension outside of it. So when you come across a Black creator… yeah, let us know when you dig us, be vocal about your support for us in other circles, help spread the word about our work.

What are some of your favorite diverse comic titles?

Truth be told, I don’t read a lot of print comics anymore, I mostly stick to web comics. Some of my favorites are Balderdash by Victoria Grace Elliot and Star Trip by Gisele Jobateh.

Black comic cons are some of the best ways to raise awareness for Black visibility in comics. What are some ways you think more awareness can be brought to the mainstream?

People should remember to help get the word out about Black creators they find that they love. Sometimes we don’t have as much reach as we’d like, so having people help fill that gap can do wonders.

You can read Mildred Louis’ Agents of the Realm here for free and tune in for updates on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

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