Tana Ford is the creator behind “That Time I Turned 30 in Greece,” an 8-page excerpt of the tale of her epic trip to Greece to celebrate her thirtieth birthday. The comic was a highlight of the fourth Oneshi Press Quarterly Anthology. So, naturally, we chatted with Tana about queer representation in comics, her heroes, and her career.
Tell us about when, how, and why you started creating comics!
I got my start self-publishing in 2010 with my lesbian graphic novel series “DUCK!”
I felt compelled to make “DUCK!” because I did not see reflections of my own queer experience in comics at the time. After that I managed to self-publish a book a year. I won the Queer Press Grant for “Duck!” in 2010 and became a Lambda Literary Award finalist with the sequel, “DUCK! Second Chances,” in 2014.
How did you get to where you are now, as an award-winning creator who’s drawn for Marvel and indie publishers? How did you learn to make comics?
The internet is a wonderful tool and I used it to find artists whose work I loved, I read comics and web comics that interested me, I studied panel structure and layout. I educated myself. And I had a day job that allowed me some creative freedom so I could work on comics during the day.
Women in comics are still far more rare than they could be. What kind of advice can you give to others who want to get started in the industry?
Make a thing.
Finish your comic and put it out in the world.
You learn so much by just doing it, so go in ready, do your research and work hard.
And keep trying.
Who are your personal comics heroes? Writers, artists, or others who inspire you?
Let’s see! I love the work that David Marquez is doing right now and Sara Pichelli‘s art is lovely. Jen Bartel is phenomenal and Sean Murphy‘s art—that painterly style of his is without parallel. For writers I am watching Matt Rosenberg, his “4 kids walk into a bank” comic was delightful, and I love Kelly Thompson‘s books.
What is your favorite comic series? Your favorite comic-based TV show or movie?
Oo. Let’s see. SAGA is a fave. And right now I am loving PAPER GIRLS by Brian K. Vaughn. Anything by him, really. I should’ve added him to my “fave writers” list. He is also, naturally, the writer of SAGA.
What comic book character do you most identify with?
Leeward from The Wake comes to mind, partly because I just read it and mostly because she’s a badass that hang glides with her pet dolphin. What’s not to love?
What’s important to you in a comic book as a reader? As an artist?
The art must be compelling. I cannot read a comic book or graphic novel whose art I do not like. It’s too distracting for me. And I like when writers write poignant dialog, that’s a big sell for me. Don’t just blather on, it’s lazy writing.
What do comics offer the world that other media can’t?
We can go off-world, blow up planets, hang glide with pet dolphins, build empires, deep sea dive—whatever we can draw, we can do. And we have the benefit of books in that we speak directly to the audience; you can know a characters’ mind.
Can you tell us a bit about “That Time I Turned 30 in Greece”? Where did it come from? Where is it going?
It came from my desire to memorialize the trip I made to Greece for my 30th birthday. I’m satisfied with how it came out. The next question is: Where to go for my 40th?
What are some other projects you’re working on currently?
I am working on a Dark Horse book right now with superstar editor Karen Berger and afrofuturist Nnedi Okorafor. Nnedi and I worked together on a Black Panther book for Marvel where we got to create our own Venomized female Black Panther called Uzaru and it was awesome.
What are some finished products readers can find out now?
Check out that Black Panther story. I also did work in Jem and Holograms #1, Star Trek #15, Marvel’s SILK series, a short story in Gwenpool, or check out my self-published work.
Where can readers find you online?
While you’re here, grab a copy of Oneshi Press Anthology #04, featuring “That Time I Turned 30 in Greece” by Tana Ford!
Digging this creator chat? Read more of our Creator Interviews!