Feb 10 2016
Let’s get to know Taneka Stotts – comic creator, editor, anthology export, and so much more. BlackComicsMonth sits down with Taneka Stotts and she talks about her experience and the need for diverse voices in the comics industry.
BlackComicsMonth: I know who you are, but can you tell the people all about you and the amazing things that you do?
Taneka Stotts: Hello, my name is Taneka Stotts. I am a freelance and published comics writer, editor, Kickstarter consultant, web dabblin’ social promotin’ high energy panel moderatin’ tumbleweed from the southwest desert. It’s nice to make your acquaintance.
BCM: How long have you been working in the comic industry?
TS: Officially, I have no idea. Unofficially, about 5 years. I say no idea, because I’ve been working in webcomics for so long. I pretty much tried to teach myself the ins and outs as I’ve gone along and found that there was really no right or wrong way as long as I was having fun. Recently, I’ve been able to shine by producing The Beyond Anthology with Sfé R. Monster. We had the amazing talented assistance of Christianne Goudreau, Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein, and all 28 contributors to make one amazing queer anthology.
BCM: You have done the Beyond Anthology which did very well on Kickstarter, congrats btw. What prompted you to create this anthology?
TS: For this origin story it all falls on Sfé R. Monster, who posted a tweet that talked about a queer anthology that told unabashedly queer stories. I had a moment where I said, I have to be part of this. And so like 300 other applicants I applied, and miraculously I made it into the book. So I started out as a hopeful and a contributor. As history would have it, life happened and I got to take a place other than just on the sidelines for this fantastic books creation.
BCM: I notice that you’re currently working on another anthology, how’s the progress coming along with that anthology? When can we expect it to hit Kickstarter?
TS: Elements is my BABY! It’s a project not only born from my successes with Beyond, but also my current irritation at the mainstream comics media and its constant ignorance of creators of color. Being told by white writers that their editors are demanding them to be more diverse for the market instead of finding diverse creators is infuriating. Seeing stories of representation that depict slavery and baffling stereotypes is so out of touch you have to wonder if corporations have gone senile (regardless, there is no excuse). The message that these companies suddenly pretend to care, but in reality they’re just checking a box and calling it a day, implore me to continue my journey.
BCM: In both of the anthologies, you cater to diversity. Why is that? How important are diverse voices to you?
TS: Diverse voices have existed on this planet since we told stories around campfires. Diverse voices made and make history every day. This world is not just one note that has been sung consistently through the ages, but we have been inundated by a lack of platforms for our voices for centuries. So it’s time to step up and it’s time to not just hear “well why don’t you create it yourself.” If you want that, then you’ll have to deal with the aftermath of what happens when we do, and our voices will not coddle or tolerate you as we rise. So yes, diversity matters to me, be it characters or creators, because we have amazing stories to tell.
BCM: As a woman who identifies as a lesbian, do you think there are enough queer black creators who create comics?
TS: I don’t think there will ever be enough queer black voices. Please give me more! I love them all and signal boost them whenever or wherever I can. I feel there is a stigma that has existed in comics for a long time that has left all people of color feeling unwelcome within the community. However, we have now changed that by literally not caring, entering all spaces (regardless of welcome) and enjoying ourselves. We are carving out our own spaces where we can share our stories, and speak in our own unedited voices. So I want more, a lot more, queer creators, I want more creators of color, I want this industry to stop looking like a blizzard with occasional token ethnicities and sexualities being cherry-picked out to grace the masses with pre-approved interpretations of diversity. So no, there will never be enough queer black creators for me, because we haven’t taken over yet.
BCM: Does it matter if a queer black creator creates a queer character in their comic?
TS: Not really. I will support them, because I want to support them. If a chosen character is queer or not that fact would not limit me from buying a good story. Because after all, that’s what I base my purchases off of, is it a good story. Also, that creator probably has more than one story to tell, they should be given the same amount time to discover and share their voice and visions.
BCM: How important is a queer creator telling their stories in this industry?
TS: Very important. The industry has been living off of us for years, so why can’t we share the same platform that they profit from? Why is it just now dawning on companies that we are more than just consumers? We work in the offices, review/promote their works to others, and we’ve always existed. I don’t know about everyone else, but I want to speak to future generations. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I didn’t get to grow up in a time where my sexuality and race was widely represented, but now it can’t be ignored. I want the future generations to be bombarded with positive affirmations of their choices and likenesses. Queer voices are great, and I for one find the industry a lot less boring with them instead of without them.
BCM: Thank you very much for all the amazing work that you do, Taneka. Do you have anything new in the works that you can share?
TS: I have quite a few things in the pipeline, it’s almost clogged. A few are hush hush still, but I’m working on a badass comic project for Stela with Sara DuVall, which is a new creator-owned comics developer for mobile platforms. I’m also working on Love & Sprockets for Janelle Asselin of Rosy Press with the fabulous artist Genue Revuelta (who also colors my webcomic Full Circle).
BCM: What tips do you have for those that are either starting out in the industry or those that are scared to take that first step?
TS: Just take that step. There is nothing that exists other than your own limitations holding you back from achieving your dreams. If you want it, you can take it, but don’t expect it to fall in your lap. We work twice as hard and get maybe about a fraction of the recognition. But those fractions add up and before you know it anyone who told you otherwise will have a hard time not seeing you for who you truly are. WRITE ON!
BCM: You’re RUTHLESS with the red pen, but you’re such a fantastic editor. What advice can you give to those who receive back their scripts? These scripts have either been rejected and told to do it over or those that are seeing way too much red ink and feel overwhelmed?
TS: Edits are there to make you stronger. They are there to bring out your full potential. As a creator you need to learn to accept criticism and you need to learn how to utilize it like a weapon. Are all critiques right? No. However, opening yourself up to outside voices and the experiences they can bring can not only help you enhance your story, it can open doors you might have otherwise seen as closed. The same can be said in regards to rejection. It happens. Be adult about the situation and you’ll be surprised to see what you can produce from the motivation it gives as you continue to seek acceptances. I’ve got my own rejections on my wall. They’re a good starting point to see how much further I’ve come since receiving them.
BCM: Please tell everyone where they can pick up your books, where to find you online and anything else you’d like the world to know.
TS: Hey there world, you can read my current webcomic for free at www.FullCircleComic.com. The Beyond Anthology is available on our site www.Beyond-Press.com. You can check out Elements (kickstarting this July) at www.ElementsAnthology.com. Last but not least, my personal website is www.TanekaStotts.com, check me out 🙂