David Ferguson chatted to Anna Fitzpatrick, creator of the Alien Heart comic, who is also behind works such as Between Worlds and Kore. The illustrator, designer and webcomic artist is currently working on Volume 2 of Alien Heart, which centres around Ivy, a 16-year-old gay alien facing the end of the world. During their interview, Anna shares how she created Ivy, her queer sci-fi recommendations and the Alien Heart Kickstarter campaign.
What made you choose to do a sci-fi story?
I think I’ve always been obsessed with sci-fi, the space opera kind in particular. It’s all the fun and magic of fantasy but with cool tech, planets, spaceships, and lasers, you know? I was obsessed with Star Wars as a kid, which was weird back then.
These days that’s a lot less weird. It used to be that all the melodramatic space opera sci-fis and high fantasies were all the standard white male power fantasies. I sort of went off them as I got older when I considered my place in that sort of world. Then Mass Effect came into my life when the trilogy was going for a tenner on the PlayStation store and, holy god, it brought me right back in.
It’s not perfect, still a product of its time with the bonus sexism you get when you play as a woman (they simply MUST keep us reminded of your place after all). But just the idea that you could play that super duper powerful best person in the world everyone loves and fears your role as a woman (and a gay one at that, if you want), it’s sort of intoxicating?
It felt like I was stepping into a world that was previously forbidden, I’m still not over it. Anyway, that’s something I wanted to explore with the Alien Heart comic. It’s about who we are and our role in the world. You want to be the hero, but how do you actually find that role in reality? Particularly when you’re a 13-year-old lesbian with undiagnosed ADHD and no friends.
I love the Alien Heart comic main character Ivy. She’s so down to earth and makes you want to root for her. Can you tell us about her?
Ivy’s like my fictional daughter. She’s sort of based on what I was like as a chungwan: loud, gay, extreme fantasist, lonely – she’s me without the depression. Ivy’s made of elastic, she takes a lot of hits but she just bounces right back and tries again after a short sulking period.
She also has some meaty flaws which are fun to explore. She has some very fixed views on the world around her and other people’s roles in her life. She can be prone to charging down certain paths without understanding why. It’s like she almost knows she was born to be a protagonist, for better or worse. Her passion is what makes her fun to write though, everything’s 110%.
FINALLY! I can reveal the FULL COVER ART FOR ALIEN HEART VOL 2 AAAAH ❤️????? pic.twitter.com/iQJOWObyok
— ? Anna ? Alien Heart Vol 2 now funding on KS!!!! (@BlackMothEyes) June 28, 2023
Of course, she’s so relatable to many of us because she has a huge crush on the seemingly perfect Rosa. I’m sure we all have one of those stories?
I’m sure we do! The thing is, and I don’t know if this is a gay thing or if it’s pretty universal, but when you meet someone who looks at you like you’re worth looking at when no one ever had before, it can completely shake you to the core in a way you can’t ever forget.
That was another thing I wanted to explore, the impacts we can have on one another. Those small, entirely life-defining earthquake moments that may not have meant anything at all to the other person.
You’ve been writing and drawing the story for a number of years now. Do you think comics have changed much when it comes to telling queer stories? Are we doing better?
Oh big time, we’re doing better, it’s unbelievable. The stories coming out now are the things I didn’t dare dream of growing up.
As a millennial, the focus of that millenarian change is usually technology-focused, analogue vs digital, but the BIG era change for me is just how the stories we’re able to tell/read/watch/experience. It’s moving at such a speed now, it’s dizzying. I’ve been wanting to tell this sort of story all my life and then it turns out my whole generation felt the same and they all had their stories too.
I do worry we’re sort of on the downward slide though. There was a golden age and now the markets are getting bored. Profits need to go higher and higher and as soon as “diversity” isn’t a profit maker, the doors will close. The open platforms we had on social media to find our own paths outside of the industrial mainstream are also closing their doors. I do think we’re in a bit of a bottleneck of sorts.
I think there are some tough times ahead for marginalised people’s stories. We need to stay vigilant and keep creating and forming communities where we can. Social media numbers are trash, all we truly have is one another.
You’re doing a Kickstarter for your latest printed volume, the second one. Those late to the story can get both volumes along with other awards.
They can indeed, you can get just volume 1 if you want to try it out, too.
Hello #portfolioday, I’m Anna and I make a gay girl pre/post apoc sci-fi comedy webcomic called Alien Heart, the second volume of which is now funding on Kickstarter! All links in bio, thanking u v much!?? pic.twitter.com/9LHWkbmy8H
— ? Anna ? Alien Heart Vol 2 now funding on KS!!!! (@BlackMothEyes) July 11, 2023
Last one I like to ask: any queer story recommendations?
When you’re gay, it can be an effort to distinguish between someone you want to be or want to be with. It’s usually both, in my experience, so I’ll focus on lesbians in space comics that are everything I’ve ever wanted to read as well as everything I’ve ever wanted to make. The fact that there are several is amazing, all the grown-up millennial lesbians who were also Star Wars obsessed as kids are all making their comics at the same time you see (that’s my theory anyway).
I’m reading On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden right now. It’s like something from a dream. I find myself having to really take my time and read slowly, I adore it.
Cosmoknights by Hannah Templer has an INCREDIBLY stylish kitschy space action/adventure vibe. I’m kind of in awe of it, I feel like it’s too good for my eyes, I don’t deserve to read it. Her compositions like, I don’t know how to handle it.
Space Trash by Jenn Woodall. Jenn has the coolest underground comix style and the characters are so vibrant and distinctive, it’s just loaded with personality and cheeky details in the background, definitely on my wavelength!
For all these and more, I boil with equal parts adoration and searing jealousy and that’s just queer culture I suppose.
You can check Anna’s Kickstarter for the Alien Heart comic here.
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