Stepping Into “Jane’s World” with Paige Braddock

 
 


Pieces of Braddock also wind up in various other Jane’s World characters,
such as Jane’s NASCAR-loving roommate, Ethan. A crumpled Charlie
Brown-adorned NASCAR hood hangs in Braddock’s office, the place where
it was originally designed and approved. They sent it back to her as a
joke after Billy Elliott wrecked it in a race in Memphis, not realizing
that she is a huge NASCAR fan.

Braddock’s characters are not only her livelihood but her friends—and not just the
imaginary kind.

“I’m so invested in the stories and the characters that
they seem real. So when I finish a book and I haven’t started working
on the next one yet, I’m kind of depressed. Like I kind of miss them.
That’s weird, isn’t it?”

She
may joke about the deep connection she shares with her creations, but
Braddock does value the ethereal. She traded in a successful 12-year
career as a visual journalist for a graduate program in theological
studies. “It gets me out of being grounded in the physical world and
helped me think in a more expansive way,” she says.

She never intended to be a minister but was burnt out and looking for a new
direction. Although she eventually left her theological studies program
in Atlanta for her current job in California, she credits the stint at
grad school with jumpstarting her brain.

“With journalism you’re dealing with facts all the time and you’re so
grounded in reality,” she says.

She had been working for the Chicago Tribune, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and, briefly, USA Today.
Mostly she did op-ed and humorous illustrations, occasionally writing
stories. It was a field she stumbled into in college at the University
of Tennessee when a friend encouraged her to apply for an illustrator
position at a local paper.

Atlanta and Knoxville are
just two of the many Southern cities Braddock had lived in before
settling on the West Coast. “I’ve pretty much lived in every southern
state,” she says, noting that her seven-year stretch in California is
the longest time she has spent in one place. Her father worked for the
Forest Service, so the family moved every few years.

“I
have that conservative, Southern thing in my head” Braddock says,
explaining why she tells potential distributors that her books are for
teens and adults. “It has some adult content, so I don’t think it’s
appropriate for little kids, although there are some young people who
read it,” she says. “But they live in California and their parents
don’t care what they read.”

The
world of comics has more guys than girls, Braddock points out, “so it’s
a challenge to be a female creator with a lesbian character that guys
actually think is funny. Tapping into the gay market is one thing, but
crossing that next barrier and actually getting straight boy comic fans
to like the book is really a challenge.”

“My lesbian readers are
incredibly loyal, so I wouldn’t in any way minimize that part of my
demographic,” Braddock says. “It’s just an interesting cultural switch
to see mainstream audiences embrace these characters, I guess.”

Judging from the people who approach her at conventions, Braddock says her fans
are a pretty mixed bunch of young and old, gay and straight.

She guesses that there aren’t a lot of gay comics readers, and gay fans are
mostly men “because of whole muscle-bound characters in spandex. But
for women, the female characters in comics tend not to be really well
defined. Maybe with the exception of Catwoman.”

But she applauds PrismComics.org
for getting gay and lesbian comics noticed in the larger comics
industry: “They not only pick up on gay titles but they let people know
about gay threads in mainstream books or gay creators working on
mainstream books.”

The Eisner Award nomination will certainly increase the visibility of Jane’s World.
Braddock is especially excited to be recognized by her larger
professional community: “It’s that next hurdle I’ve been wanting to get
past, where you don’t have that identifier of ‘gay’ comedian or ‘gay’
performer or ‘gay’ cartoonist. You’re just a cartoonist and it’s just a
funny book and it just happens to be gay.”

That said, some fans have complained to Braddock that Jane hasn’t been
getting enough action. Braddock listened and recently got her
protagonist tangled in a love triangle. “So it’s pretty good for Jane,”
she says. “I’m sure it’ll end badly. But she’ll have fun along the
way.”

Get more information at JaneComics.com.

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