Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Kat Roberts and the Online World

“I came into comics a pretty late,” Kat Roberts admits. Sitting back in her chair, she’s wearing large eyeglasses with blue frames and small diamonds. They threaten to swallow her face and, given her pulled back blonde hair and thin build, give her a mousy and cute look. “When I was in college, one of my best friends, Kevin, lent me The Dark Knight Returns. Though I had never read any of the Batman comics, I was a big fan of the character, mostly because of the excellent Bruce Timm animated series that was around in the 90’s. So I read it and couldn’t believe how great it was. Miller’s art, story, really everything about it was perfect. Next I read Sin City. It was really powerful to me. I loved it. Through Miller, I went on this meandering journey of really discovering comics.”

Kat, a new cartoonist on the scene, got into comics through the gateway drug of Frank Miller’s Batman. It soon led to an immersion in a grab bag of series, from one end of the gamut to the other – from Marvel to indy.
From there I began reading a whole lot of back issues and discovered titles that I enjoyed like New Mutants, Cloak & Dagger, X-Men, Swamp Thing, and Simonson’s run on Thor,” she remembers. “It was later that I discovered indy creators such as the Hernandez brothers, Sammy Harkham, and Kyle Baker, all whose work I loved and inspired me to create my own comics.”
Kat was pursuing her Social Work degree at a small college in Boone County, North Carolina and, discovering a penchant for fashion design and illustration, made the move up to New York City to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. While she currently works part-time in fashion illustration, Roberts has started to pop up in the New York comics world as a rising cartoonist.

I was writing my own stories and had just begun trying to make them into comics, but they were really horrible,” Kat laughs. “I was fortunate enough to meet Dean Haspiel at a signing some time after that, and we kind of recognized each other, and realized we were neighbors. Dean was kind enough to invite me over to draw with him and some other creators, but I didn’t want to go because my work was shit. I kept bumping into him and finally I went decided to drop by with my work.

The first time I went to his place Michel Fiffe was there, as well. They were nice enough to look over what I had brought and told me in a very kind way that it sucked. But thankfully they were still very welcoming, so I continued going over. It actually provided me with a nice balance. I had my friends who were super supportive of me, and basically just happy that I was doing what I loved, (whether it sucked or not), but I also, had professionals who were honest enough to go “That’s cute, but don’t do that,’” she laughs. “Having their critique was invaluable and it helped me get through a difficult process much faster than it would’ve been possible for me otherwise.”

Kat’s comics have already appeared in the anthology Negative Burn, as well as Roctober Magazine, combining a story book illustrative sense with sequential art. Most of her work has found a home online, currently on her blog, where a child asks her grandmother about the size of space, tortured when Grandma starts on about infinity and black holes, or about cute painted blue bunnies covering over a pink hill – that is actually a person lying prostate.
Her work, combining multi-media like colored inks and acrylic paints, is perhaps most memorable in her Next Door Neighbor strips for Smith Magazine. Kat's art has appeared twice, once telling the story of her first New York neighborhood, ruled by a kindly homeless woman, and secondly illustrating the story of writer Shawn Kittleson’s childhood indoors. Pretty soon, she’ll be part of the vast online web collective, Act-I-Vate.

I’ll be doing a weekly strip for a while, but would eventually like to begin a much longer narrative story,” Kat reveals. “I’ve been a devoted fan of Act-I-Vate since they began, so I’m super flattered to be involved with it.”

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