Name: Whit Taylor
Job Title & Description: Cartoonist, writer, editor
Whit Taylor is a New Jersey born cartoonist, writer, and editor who is currently based in Brooklyn.
Jamie: How long have you been working in the comics industry?
Whit: It’s hard to pin down an exact date, but I’d say about 5 years?
Jamie: Describe why you chose the industry and the path you took to get there (education, internships, etc.).
Whit: I didn’t choose comics as a career at first; it was more of a hobby. I had been drawing comics and reading them since I was a kid. I taught myself how to put together minicomics after college and started attending small press festivals, where I learned more about the independent comics scene and started selling my work. I never went to art school (bachelors in anthropology/masters in public health), so I am largely self-taught. So I guess I took the DIY approach and just stuck with it.
Jamie: In Feb 2014, your comic Headquarters, was featured on Black Girl Nerds. Can you tell everyone what the comic is about and what inspired you to write it?
Whit: I wrote some autobio strips about visiting my family for the holidays in NJ. It was about reconnecting with people from my past and trying to make sense of a difficult period of my life. I drew them on computer paper on my parent’s kitchen table. I love doing diary comics, even though I’ve been focusing on other things lately. It’s funny looking back at them because I feel like I’m in such a different place in my life now!
Jamie: What are the highlights of your career/current job or project so far?
Whit: In the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to work as a cartoonist, writer, and editor with people whose work I admire. Some highlights have included working on The Anthropologists for Sparkplug Books, serving as an Ignatz Awards juror in 2014 (which allowed me to really see the diversity of work out there and expand my tastes), writing for The Comics Journal, Panel Patter, and The Tiny Report, and doing some comics essays on race and culture for The Nib, and editing an anthology called Subcultures: A Comics Anthology with publisher Dan Mazur (Ninth Art Press).
Right now, I’m working on some smaller editing projects, writing for some future comics, and delving into a longer project that I can discuss at a later date. I’m also hoping to have a new minicomic out this fall, called Ghost.
Jamie: Any lessons learned you like to share about your time working in comics far?
Whit: Yeah. Becoming a cartoonist has probably been the most challenging, yet most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life. Harder in my opinion than any formal education or more traditional career path because there have been no “steps” which guarantee a specific end goal. I also find that my idea of what it means to be successful in comics keeps shifting as I grow as a cartoonist and either achieve things I didn’t expect or don’t achieve certain things I wanted. There are tons of talented people who want to make a living or name for themselves in comics. And unfortunately even though the fan base is growing, the infrastructure of comics (publishing, marketing, distribution) has not quite caught up enough to support everyone wanting to make a go of it. It’s important to be mindful of this, but to stay focused in putting out work that you believe in and think is of value.
Jamie: Any links to past/upcoming projects or a portfolio you’d like to share?
Whit: My Website
Latest Comic I did for The Nib called “The Fabric of Appropriation”
Jamie: Are there any comics that you are currently reading?
Whit: I’ve just finished reading the stack of comics in my room, so I’m waiting till SPX to pick up a bunch of stuff. Some recent comics/graphic novels I’ve enjoyed include: Arsene Schrauwen (Oliver Schrauwen, Fantagraphics), Sea Urchin (Laura Knetzger, Retrofit/Big Planet Comics), The Weight (Melissa Mendes, self-published), Miseryland (Keiler Roberts, self-published), Frontier (Jillian Tamaki/Emily Carroll, Youth in Decline), and The Oven (Sophie Goldstein, Adhouse Books), and the latest Optic Nerve comics (Adrian Tomine, Drawn & Quarterly). I also am a fan of The Nib (ed. Matt Bors), even though it’s paused at the moment, as well as Jen Sorensen’s sociopolitical cartooning on Fusion. It’s hard to keep up with all of the great work out there.
Jamie: Any advice you’d like to pass along to someone interested in the comics industry?
Whit: Keep working and showing up to cons
Meet people, build relationships, and don’t be a jerk
Read lots of comics, even in genres you wouldn’t expect to like
Don’t get bogged down in comparing yourself to others’ work or progress
Figure out how comfortable you will be with not making money initially (or possibly ever) and decide if you want/need a “companion” career to support you as you make work
Jamie: Are you attending any events or participating in any panels in Spring/Summer 2016?
Whit: I don’t have a set schedule for next year yet, but so far this fall I will be exhibiting at the Small Press Expo (SPX), Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE), Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC), and Comic Arts Brooklyn (CAB). I might have a panel or two for this fall, but that’s TBA at this point.
Jamie: Any last notes or information you’d like to include?
Whit: I’ve got a few things coming out this fall, listed below.
“The Myth of the Strong Black Woman” in Eat More Comics! The Best of The Nib (ed. Matt Bors)
“The Duality” (a comic about being a Gemini) in What’s Your Sign, Girl? (ed. Rob Kirby, Ninth Art Press)
a TBA collaboration with cartoonist Simon Reinhardt for the next Dog City Press anthology
Guest editing the comics section, Early Edition for Nat Brut #6 (ed. Kayla E.)
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