Kathryn Briggs

Posted on March 12th, 2018

Kathryn Briggs is an American artist and writer currently based in Scotland, whose work will be familiar to long-term Dirty Rotten Comics readers. Her first comics collection for Throwaway Press, Magpie, will be released this Friday. Ahead of the release, we sat down with Kathryn to chat about art, mysticism, and psychic warfare…

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Hi Kathryn! We’re delighted to be publishing your new collection Magpie; I can safely say that we were blown away when you sent us over the final draft. First off, can you tell us a little more about the book, and what readers can expect to see?

Thank you so much! I am absolutely thrilled (and honored) to be releasing Magpie with you. It collects every short comic I’ve ever done; it’s a collection that’s been three years in the making. These shorts were a playground for new ideas or working methods, and I tackle everything from my personal healing journey to the benefits of space travel in the company of felines. It’s a collection of things I love, things that have moved me, and things that inspire me.

Although the subjects of your comic pieces are diverse in tone and content, I’ve noticed a recurring otherworldly theme running through your work. Is there something about the mystic which particularly appeals to you, and where do you draw this inspiration from if so?

I think that is a very fair assessment of my work! I think I’m drawn to the mystic or the esoteric or the abstract because it feels like the farthest possible zoom outwards; from there I can get a clearer perspective of the whole, see all the working parts. Which is useful when writing about subjects that might be emotionally difficult. Plus, symbols, archetypes, myths, and faery tales have been passed down for so many generations for a reason! They’re beautiful ways to tell a story or express something about what it’s like to be human.

You seem to have a knack for working across a variety of mediums. Are you classically trained in art, or is it something you picked up over time? What would be a typical starting point for you, when you set out to make a new comic?

I am, yes. My undergrad was a very traditional fine art training: life drawing and painting, anatomy, cast drawing, color theory, even sculpture and print making. My degree show was a bunch of large landscape oil paintings. Later on, I taught myself watercolors because I hated cleaning all my oil painting brushes. The starting point is always the script. Then I let the script dictate the art, whatever method or medium I feel will express what the script is trying to convey the best. And what I feel like doing on that particular day; I also play with different techniques to keep myself engaged as an artist. If I had to stick to one style I think I’d bore myself to death.

As an American ex-pat, have you noticed anything different about the comics scene in the UK to that in the US? Is there a noticeable difference between the British and American sensibilities, or is our world now so globalised that these differences might not be so distinct?

Actually, I only started making comics after I moved to Scotland! Before that I was more familiar with the fine art scene, and once I went to my first con to sell my books, I knew I was never going back!

What’s next on the horizon? Do you have any longer form projects in the pipeline, or are you happy sticking with shorter work for the time being?

I do have a large project, a full length graphic novel, that I’m very excited about – Victory Violet! I’m working with a writer this time, Bobsy from The Mindless Ones and Diane podcast fame; if you’re interested in Twin Peaks, I’d highly recommend Diane. We’re taking a look at the Magical Battle of Britain and its head warrior priestess Dion Fortune. During WWII Dion organized weekly meditation and visualization sessions with anyone who’d like to join her in a effort to fight Nazis with magic and prayer. This really happened! It’s a little known chapter of WWII history that we’re exploring, as well as a biography of Dion Fortune and her work. Expect strange, complicated comicsing as I attempt to illustrate psychic warfare!

Lastly, do you have any advice for those who are looking to get involved in comics?

I think first and foremost, make comics. Make the comics you want to read, focus on bringing out your own unique voice. And then get out there! The small press scene in the UK is very warm and welcoming, so book a table at small con and see what it’s like, meet the other creators, ask them questions! But keep in mind, making comics is time consuming. So don’t get into the habit of connecting your productivity with your worth as a creator. Take good care of the most important comics-making tool you have – yourself.

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Many thanks to Kathryn for taking the time to answer our questions. Magpie is available to pre-order now, and will be released on Friday 16th March in both physical and ebook formats, published by Throwaway Press.