Hello! To start, welcome to my new space! Finally everything is set up and I hope the transition will go smoothly to everyone.
Soft is also finished, the updates will go all the way to the end of the year. To my relief I'm satisfied with how it'll end (I also hope you've enjoyed the very brief Regency AU this month).
AND we have a cover for the digital volume!
I hoped to have a presale but Gumroad doesn't allow those anymore...
What you can get right away though is a commission for the Holidays! So don't miss the opportunity!
This month was super stressful (yes, I'm so tired of saying that), and I've come to the conclusion that my house is going through its Saturn return since last year, it's the only explanation. Anyway, I've done everything I needed, so it's still a win.
Our guest this month is Hannah Templer, who you most certainly must know as drawer of space gays and great fashion.
Now, starting with one of our recurring questions. Was there something or someone queer you felt pulled to before you even understood why?
Oh yes! Great question, especially because I came out quite late in life. For a long time I was terrified of classifying my feelings for women as attraction, but even from a very young age, I think I had crushes on girls and female characters all the time. My most vivid first memory of this is watching the Digimon anime as a ten-year-old… when Gatomon digivolved into Angewomon for the first time, I was in awe! After that, my most serious obsession was probably Helga Sinclair from Atlantis – at the time I didn’t fully understand why I was so enchanted with her, but I drew her and wrote fanfiction about her constantly, and even marked her height on my door frame hoping to be as tall as her some day (spoiler alert: I am not).
Assuming you made your first attempts in writing as a kid. Do you remember what your first story was about?
Well, I had a story about fairies that I don’t remember now very well at all, but it was based on a dream I had when I was eight or nine years old. It had to do with shrinking down to a small size and exploring my backyard and protecting the fairy realm, I think. A later story I remember more clearly was a superhero comic I wrote when I was ten, about a girl who had chameleon powers and could camouflage into any environment. It was pretty run-of-the-mill superhero stuff, but that was the only comics I had available to me at the time, so it was all I could think to write.
Your clean lines mixed with your use of colour to relay depth are very distinctive. And so are the silly and delightful expressions you pepper all over Cosmoknights (especially Percy’s!). Can you tell us about the process of finding your style? Not only visually, but also in relation to your recurring storytelling tools.
Thank you! I take a lot of inspiration from 80’s cartoons and early 2000’s movies, since that’s what I grew up watching. Jem and the Holograms, as well as Barbie and the Rockstars and Captain Planet – I really like the flat, clean style of that period of animation, and those shows also have really vivid colors. I also love (as I mentioned earlier) Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Treasure Planet, and Titan A.E.. With my style I try to keep a sense of maturity (cartoons for grown-ups!), but also leave room for a little bit of silliness– a well-placed visual gag becomes even funnier when it contrasts with a more reserved “serious” style.
In terms of storytelling, I think action/adventure movies like The Mummy, Tomb Raider, and The Matrix made really big impressions on me. There’s something really great about stories that have high stakes, but are unapologetically fun and outrageous. I tend to try and write very clear and fast-paced stories, without too much flowery language or opaqueness, keeping things character-focused and heartfelt. Truly, my guiding light is that I never want my stories to feel like work – I try to write fun adventures you can take a break with.
I’ve been reading Cosmoknights since its beginning as a webcomic and what pulled me to it was Cass. She’s such a rare figure in any medium and you already shared how connected she is to your personal story. What are some of your favourite butches in fiction and what would you like to see more in such characters?
I think there are sort of two answers to this question, because we very rarely see true butch characters (until more recently, but even now, it’s still extremely rare)! So there are a lot of butch-adjacent characters I grew up with that I love; Helga Sinclair from Atlantis, Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, Ursula from The Little Mermaid, Mrs. Trunchbull from Matilda, and so on… a lot of villains on that list, but that’s because villains tend to be queer-coded, haha!
But in terms of actual butch characters, my all-time favorite is Corky from Bound – the first time I saw that movie was one of the first times I felt attractive! After a lifetime of being made fun of for not being feminine, seeing Gina Gershon play Corky as a confident and alluring Butch was so refreshing and exciting. I also love Poussey from OitNB (although I don’t love the show), Anne Lister from Gentleman Jack, and most recently Mary Read from Our Flag Means Death.
What I would like to see more of is honestly just… more butch characters! As long as they are written thoughtfully and authentically by actual queer people (even better if they are written by butch lesbians themselves), I don’t worry too much about “bad representation”. I know there are negative stereotypes out there, but I also know so many butches in real life with wildly different personalities and interests, so I don’t think there’s an “ideal” butch character or trait I’d like to see – I just think the more fictional (and authentically written) butches we get, the better! I dream of the day I can pick and choose what I like from butch stories, rather than be limited to a small few that are under tremendous pressure to be “perfect”, whatever that even means.
While sapphic stories tend to revolve around romance, I see Cosmoknights as taking an unexpected road. We have established couples, a single unexpected couple formed only in volume 2 and Pan, our main girl, is still alone. Was all this intentional from the get go or the characters took their own routes?
My original intention was to write a story where queer women get to be the heroes, but I didn’t want romance to be the central focus of the story. It was really important to me to show a married lesbian couple with a stable relationship, hence Cass and Bee, but how they originally got together is not part of the story I’m telling. Additionally, while Pan may find romance in the future, I also wanted to play a little bit with unexpected twists– just because two characters are lesbians doesn’t necessarily mean they will end up together, or that they both are attracted to each other. Lesbians can experience unrequited love, too!
Actually, one of the most important things to me is writing about friendships between queer women! Those lines can blur between platonic and romantic sometimes, especially as we grow old and fall in and out of crushes, or stay friends with our exes, and often our partners are also our best friends… but there is just something so beautiful and unique about the friendships and bonds shared among queer women. I love writing the different dynamics of the main cast and watching them grow closer to each other.
Flung Out of Space won an Eisner earlier this year, no need to say it’s an incredible comic. The limited palette, the double spread with a huge dyke written across, her imagination taking space at all times. It has so many great visual choices, how was the process of coming up with the comic’s identity?
Thank you! I worked very closely with Grace to establish the style of the comic, which is fairly cinematic and inspired by film noir, but also nods to lesbian history (especially historical photographs), and has some very personal emotional moments that draw from my own life. Patricia and I actually share a lot of the same experiences, so it was interesting (and heart-breaking) to look at old photographs of her and feel a connection with a queer woman living 70 years before me who experienced so many of the same things.
In the era of burn out, we have been forced to rethink routines and our relationships to working on our previous hobbies. A long trial and error process. How have you been navigating that?
Honestly, I have been navigating it fairly poorly, but I am trying to do better! I started my career as a cartoonist quite late, so I have a lot of anxiety about “catching up”, but I am working hard to take care of my health and set good boundaries these days. I do my best work when I am well rested and full of inspiration, so I am motivated to find the right balance of taking enough time off to do my best work. Right now, my goal is to take at least one day off a week (which is new for me, haha), and being more realistic with how I estimate my time (no more planning 12+ hour work days).
Can you tell us anything about future original projects?
Sure – I have a bunch of ideas that I want to play with that are simmering on the backburner, but I think my next book is going to be a comedy-horror project inspired by my life growing up in a cult. I don’t talk much about my personal life or childhood because it’s kind of crazy and not very relatable to most people, but I think I have a really great idea for a story that will be freeing and really fun to tell. Needless to say, all my future stories are going to be full of lesbians, haha.
What’s the queer story (in any medium) that has your attention right now?
I adore Our Flag Means Death – especially Anne Bonny and Mary Read in season two. I just think that show does such a great job being heartfelt, authentic, multi-faceted, and hilarious. I also loved The Fall of the House of Usher, which is not queer-focused, but features many really great (and badly behaved) queer characters. I love to see a show casually introduce well-written characters who just happen to be queer alongside other well-developed personality traits.
What would you like to see more in sapphic/queer stories?
As I said earlier, just more stories from queer people! More, more, more! I want to see well-behaved queers, evil queers, problematic queers, traumatized queers, joyful queers, queers falling in and out of love, sci-fi queers, action and adventure queers – everything that heterosexual stories get to do, I want to see authentically told queer stories in the same vein! Of course, I look forward to more lesbian narratives specifically, especially ones written by butch lesbians – I’d love to see more of our experiences written with love and care, and I’m here for whatever those stories look like!
Please, share where people can find more of your work.
Right now, I’ve gotten rid of most of my social media, but I am on Bluesky (@hannahtempler), and you can find my work and contact info on my website at hannahtempler.com. And of course, Cosmoknights is always free to read online at cosmoknights.space!
Stuff I read
The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich by Deya Muniz
This was the most delightful read and the light in the end of the tunnel after a shitty day! Even more delightful to find out Deya is Brazilian (yes, I'm slow and I didn't know that until now). I love a "disguising as a man" trope, but contrary to what usually happens—where the woman tries to be the most macho possible—,Camembert turns into the most dandy guy ever, obsessed about fashion and mingling with other girls at all times. 100% recommend, add some fun to your life!
Hen Fever: A Sapphic Victorian Romance by Olivia Waite
This novella left me as delighted as The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows, which I talked about earlier this year (and I'd say has an equally misleading cover). It carries both Waite's historical knowledge and a compelling couple, amidst... a Christmas poultry show. So I guess it already counts as a Holiday book.
Gwen and Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher
I know I'm only repeating delightful non-stop, but I really had a sequence of delightful reads (and I really need to make fanart of this book when I find 5 free minutes). It's the sort of fictional historical novel that mixes the historical and fictional very well, but the characters are really the best of it (which for me should always be the case). I confess at first I feared I'd hate Art, but he possibly ended up as my favourite. I only hoped we had more time with Bridget...
See you next month with another interview and the best of 2023 (by me obviously)!