Cover for Ahmara Smith's "Brontide" comic
1: Tell us a bit about your background as an artist.

I am an Atlanta based comic artist. I’ve been doing comics professionally for about 2 years now, but I’ve really liked drawing from a young age. In middle school I decided I wanted to do comics so I went to SCAD. It was very fun, for me! I learned a lot about art and being an art professional!

2: Give us an introduction to 23.5 Degrees.
So, the anthology is called 23.5 Degrees but my specific comic is called Brontide. Which means something like “the distant rumble of thunder”, I’m scared of lighting so I thought the word seemed kind of tense like something bad might happen and that related to the main character who is trying to hide their magic in the story. I had this story concept from 2014 or so, and I put it on Tapastic (an online comic hosting site) first, but then came back to it for this anthology and redid everything. I really like writing romance, even if the story has other elements in it, when I draw or write a story it keeps me interested if it has romance so this short comic was just about some college students in love, but the twist is that it’s all fantasy! Fantasy is my second favorite genre, haha!

3: What would you say is the most significant thing you’ve learned in the creation of your comic?

This comic was done earlier this year, that’s when I was mainly learning lettering (the text in a comic) for comics so looking back on it now it’s really a stepping stone to my nicer lettering currently. Lettering is much harder than you assume at first glance! I think nowadays because there are so many comics, opinions on text are a lot looser and I appreciate that. Comics is really a medium for everyone and I think standards are convenient but not always necessary. For this comic though, I can see my improvement with lettering over time and that makes me happy.

4: Any advice you’d give to other Black creators trying to break into comics?

I’m new to this also so I don’t have any really awesome advice yet! My piece would be to not be afraid that you aren’t representing EVERYONE just represent yourself and you’ll like the comics you make more. Also, don’t be afraid to ask what people like and don’t like! If making cash is your goal, finding a good place between what you like and what your audience likes seems important.

5: Fancast your comic! If 23.5 Degrees were to be adapted for film/television, who would you want onboard to direct or act/voice act your characters?

This is really hard! I don’t know a lot of actors that well! I would want the actors to match really well with the characters so I don’t know. Hmmm…. at least I can say it would totally have to be directed by someone cool like Ava Duvernay! I liked the style she did for a wrinkle in time it was very pop and the kid audience liked it a lot so I think she would be good at directing young adult things also. This is hard!

6: What’s next for you in your creative career?
Right now I have a few more comic projects lined up and so hopefully those happen successfully! Also, for my day job I do graphic design and things like that so hopefully more work! haha!

Title: Brontide   | Release Date: March 2019   | Buy links:   Brontide   |  23.5° Anthology
L.D. Lewis is an award-winning SF/F writer and editor, and publisher at Fireside Magazine. She serves as a founding creator and Project Manager for the World Fantasy and Hugo Award-winning FIYAH Literary Magazine. She also serves as the founding Director of FIYAHCON, boardmember for Diverse Voices, Inc., Researcher for the LeVar Burton Reads podcast, and pays the bills as the Awards Manager for the Lambda Literary Foundation. She frequently authors studies about the treatment and experiences of racially/ethnically marginalized authors in speculative literature. She is the author of A Ruin of Shadows (Dancing Star Press, 2018) and her published short fiction and poetry includes appearances in FIYAH, PodCastle, Strange Horizons, Anathema: Spec from the Margins, Lightspeed, and Neon Hemlock, among others. She lives in Georgia, on perpetual deadline, with her coffee habit, two very photogenic kittens, and an impressive Funko Pop! collection. Tweet her @ellethevillain.
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