Feb 5 2016
VixenVarsity writer Asiaelle sits down with The Substitutes creator, Myisha Haynes, and discusses the webcomic, inspiration and her love for Dwayne McDuffie.
BlackComicsMonth: How long has The Substitutes been in your head?
Myisha Haynes: I’ve been working on it since summer of 2014–it started out as a fun idea about apartment neighbors who discovered a secret portal in their laundry room, and expanded from there.
BCM: Which character in The Substitutes is closest to your personality?
MH: Bianca, who hasn’t appeared in the comic yet, is a bit like it if you carefully cherry-picked certain aspects of my personality and then amplified them. She has a dry sense of humor and keeps to herself more than the other characters, and keeps herself a little more closed off than her more extroverted roommates.
BCM: Where do you go and what do you do when you need a bit of inspiration?
MH: I love reading comics for inspiration, particularly webcomics like Check Please, Agents of the Realm, Full Circle, and Blindsprings, which I enjoy for their art as well as their storytelling. I also get a massive amount of my inspiration fodder from Pinterest; everything from clothes to locations to people to art techniques.
BCM: I just love Pinterest. So, who do you look up to?
MH: I’m a huge fan of N.K. Jemisin’s books, especially The Inheritance Trilogy; rich worlds, unique characters, and extensive lore are my kryptonite; the way she crafts stories is something I aspire to. Similarly, I still love so much of Dwayne McDuffie’s work; like Jemisin, he took care to craft stories for characters, especially Black characters, that we didn’t get to see often in mainstream outlets.
BCM: Let’s switch gears for a moment. Why did you decide to do a webcomic instead of pitching it to a publisher?
MH: I crave instant gratification. In all seriousness, I really like interacting with people as the story unfolds, especially as a person who reads a lot of webcomics herself. And since this is my first time comic and I’m a person who tends to overthink things a lot, I have a lot more freedom to do things like fix a typo or readjust a panel if I notice something’s not quite right. Once it’s in print, it’s in print.
BCM: Do you have any upcoming plans for any new comics?
MH: I’m currently working on a short comic to be published in the Elements Anthology, edited by Taneka Stotts and Shing Yin Khor. There are also some other short works I might be working on in the future–stay tuned!
BCM: I’m really looking forward to Elements Anthology, the lineup looks great! Any advice for those who are looking to create a webcomic?
MH: I’ve heard before that it’s a good idea to start with something small rather than your magnum opus. It’s supposed to make it easier to deal with the growing pains every first-time comic goes through as you learn how to make better choices in storytelling, art, etc. I…did not do this, but it seems like pretty solid advice!
BCM: Understood. Now are you a self-taught artist?
MH: I’ve always done art in my spare time, but I started studying art seriously in college about four years ago, as a visual development major. In terms of making comics, however, I’m entirely self-taught, though I’d love to attend some classes on the subject.
BCM: You’re also a social media games artist, so what do you do for fun?
MH: Like just about everyone else I’m currently pretty obsessed with Neko Atsume (I’ve gotten all but one cat!) When not collecting digital cats, I love going to conventions, both as an attendee/cosplayer and just recently as an exhibitor. I also love reading fantasy/sci-fi, crocheting lumpy hats and scarves, and watching too much television and having strong opinions about it.
BCM: You are definitely not alone. Is there anything else that you’d like the fans out there to know about you? Where can they find you online to gawk at your amazing work?
MH: If you’re interested in behind-the-scenes stuff for The Substitutes, including concept art, previews, and Q&A, you can follow my development blog at substituteswebcomic.tumblr.com, follow me on Twitter at @palaceofposey and check out my art blog: myishaart.tumblr.com.