Vexx(they/them or she/her) is a cartoonist, illustrator and storyboard artist that likes to wear many hats. They’ve been making comics for over a decade and have had work in a dozen anthologies. They love cartoons, noir and everything queer. You can read their weekly webcomic “Rickety Rat: Toon P.I.”, which comes out every Wednesday.
Their short comic, “How to Court a Lady” will appear in the Cohorts Anthology.
Tell us about yourself, Vexx!
I’ve been making comics for over a decade. I actually went to college to make videogames, but after college when I couldn’t get a job in the games industry, I started making comics because it was much easier to complete on your own. I fell in love with them.
I’m one of those people that has a million ideas and is always doing a million things. Along with making comics, I also draw illustrations and storyboards, design characters, and also design board games and tabletop RPGs. I have too many ideas and not enough time.
I came out as trans 2 years ago and I’m happier with myself than I’ve ever been.
Along with reading comics, I love watching film noir, horror, and cartoons, playing videogames, collecting toys, and traveling.
What was your inspiration for “How to Court a Lady”?
I love cartoons and I’ve always liked those cartoons with an Abbot and Costello-type pair of rascals. One’s big and dumb, the other is short and is also dumb, but has a big mouth. And we rarely see that kind of dynamic when it comes to female characters. Something I hate about cartoons, especially the classic ones, is seeing a range of diverse body types for male characters, but having every female character have that same, standard, hour-glass shape, so I wanted to make something with two odd-looking female rascals getting into hijinks.
What does the word “cohorts” mean to you?
Rascals, scamps, a couple of buddies that get into trouble. They aren’t necessarily criminals but cohorts don’t have noble intentions, they aim to get into some shenanigans.
What superpower would you want, and why?
Shapeshifting because I’m trans! I’ve always loved Shapeshifters, especially fluid-based shapeshifters like Venom, Clayface or Inque. I love the idea of being able to change your shape into anything that might suit you, and to physically change yourself into the form you think yourself to be. And changing into different objects or animals would be neat!
You have an ongoing webcomic, correct? Tell us about it!
My comic Rickety Rat: Toon P.I. started in 2018, and it’s a cartoon noir about a rat detective solving weird mysteries in New Toon City. The current ongoing story is Karma Kills! about Rickety trying to find a serial killer that drops anvils on people. This is the longest single comic story I’ve done, with over 160 pages out so far. I think I’ll be halfway through (gulp). I love cartoons and I love noir, and this comic gives me an excuse to explore noir tropes while deconstructing the physics and morality of cartoons.
What do you think comics bring to the world that other media can’t?
Comics is an incredible storytelling medium, and I find it astonishing what creators can do with the juxtaposition of words and images. Or how they can manipulate the feeling of time or the look of a space with an interesting panel layout. I wish comics were more popular so we could see so many more genres and stories represented in comics. I really get into my Scott McCloud mode when I think about the untapped possibility of comics.
Who are your creative inspirations?
I pull from so many sources it’s impossible to name them all. Classic noir films like Murder My Sweet, and Casablanca, classic Looney Tunes with Bugs Bunny, great cartoon artists like J Bone and Ben Caldwell, and riveting authors like Dean Motter and Kurt Busiek.
“How to Court a Lady” was a solo project. What do you find to be the most fun part of creating comics solo? How about the most challenging?
The most fun part is making your own decisions and not having anyone disagree with you, haha.
The most challenging is doing all the work! The things I really like doing are designing characters and doing layouts, and I think doing those initial structures yourself makes it so much easier to put the whole thing into place. I find character design SO important to a good comic. I usually start with character designs before I start writing. Every major character needs to have a unique design, and I need to know what they’re about.
What is a word of advice you would give to aspiring comic creators?
Most of my advice would be what everyone says: Make a bunch of small 8-12 page comics to start out with, put your stuff up everywhere you can. Be nice to your colleagues, etc.
What I’d really want creators to remember when they’re trying to make that thing that’ll turn heads is to find the weird niche that you’re passionate about and make something unique. Don’t just make a popular genre everyone else is doing; find something that NO ONE else is doing. Find that weird lil hole in the market and plug it with your weird comic! If you like something you don’t see a lot of, chances are there’s a bunch of other people who want to see it too!
Where can our readers find you online?
You can read my webcomic, Rickety Rat: Toon P.I. at ricketyrat.com, if you’d like to support me, my patreon is www.patreon.com/thenoirgal, and for everywhere else to find me, you can go to linktr.ee/thenoirgal! Thanks for the interview!
And thanks times a zillion to our pal Chris Byers for their help with these interviews!
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