Chubby Anthology – Caution, Beautiful Comics At Work!
“Body Positivity” has been a phrase that’s been thrown around rather frivolously as of late in the mainstream media. It’s the buzzword that’s been used in everything from soap commercials to pseudo “plus-sized” clothing and other so called “progressive” products.
Needless to say, the world we live in isn’t exactly forgiving to women (or men, or non-binary gender people, for that matter) who are full-figured. It’s no wonder that when it comes to creating more diversity, sometimes you have to go out and create it yourself.
That’s exactly what Natalie Parker and her partner Stephanie Parker set out to do. This dynamic wife duo are the brains behind Chubby Anthology: an inclusive anthology series based around Sapphic women who come in all shapes and sizes!
So Natalie, please tell us, how did you get started as a professional artist?
Like many other artists I’ve always drawn. I’ve taken the basic classes in high school for art, and I learned a lot from my mother who is also an artist. But I never took any of it seriously until I met my wife who encouraged me to do my first comic con years ago. She is always telling me to keep going and encouraging me in some of my wild ideas.
I have to say I would have never even tried if it wasn’t for her. I would probably still be drawing in my sketchbook, which I used to keep a secret, and then being jealous of the artist being noticed. I guess you can say my entrance into the professional artist world was a lot of someone else pushing me. Although I still don’t consider myself a professional artist – it kind of feels like ‘work in progress’ artist to me. I am always learning something new at all times. That’s what I like most about art – it’s a forever learning game.
How has being an LGBT woman shaped your professional experience as an artist?
I have never felt that me being an LGBT woman should impact my professional career, nor have I ever thought of myself as one. To me, I am just an artist that draws what she loves and what I view as beautiful. Beauty can be found in anything if you look hard enough.
Being an LGBT woman has, however, taught me to just go with the flow. Sometimes people will be a fan and other times you’ll hear the most hateful comments. I feel that is the case for any artist nowadays that really puts themselves out there and tries to be original.
Now, let’s get down to the real nitty-gritty. How did the idea for Chubby Anthology come about? What were the forces at play here?
The idea for Chubby Anthology came to be as I wanted to see more illustration of characters like me. Ones that are Chubby and so happen to identify as LGBT.
Then we noticed our own niece over the past summer. She was worried about what others thought of her (body image). So we set out to show her that she is beautiful and others are as well. We set out to start a small zine of illustrations to show her that not only did we think she is beautiful, no matter what, but others did as well.
The response we got was incredibly encouraging to both us and her.
Would you say that comics have a diversity problem in general?
I am not sure if there is a diversity problem, so to speak. I see many other comics being LGBT-friendly and I am totally encouraging of them. In fact I will buy the issue the character comes out in – but I do see a lack of characters that are LGBT and have a more realistic body type.
I understand the draw to make the character stereotypically sexy with an hourglass figure but that isn’t always realistic. To me, that was the problem. I want to see more female and male characters drawn in a manner that shares a positive outlook on every body type.
Did you always intend for Chubby to be an Anthology Series?
No, we didn’t. When we first started we thought maybe there’d be a few people interested. The very first day we ever posted an ‘artist wanted’ post, we got over twenty people emailing us, sharing the post and sending messages of support. It might not be a huge success, but it was far more then we ever thought would be interested. We then continued it with different themes.
Was creating a comic/anthology series something you’ve always wanted to do?
I have always loved doing things like yearbooks. Putting images together in a book for others to read was always something I liked doing. I just never thought I would be the one in charge of something like this. After all, I am a very shy and quiet person and to me an editor/creator has to be more than that. But I have no regrets and now I love talking to people about the Anthology. It has, for sure, become the main focus in my art career.
What would you say has been the most thrilling thing about this editor/ creator experience?
As an editor it’s so thrilling to talk to other artists, some of which I have admired for a long time. I admit I have secretly art-stalked some of them on social media. It has so far been an amazing journey of becoming friends with so many artists.
I also love when a story comes in my email and I get to read it with my snacks. It’s a great honour to be the one that previews some amazing stories before everyone else.
Do you have any advice for any Mookychick readers out there who want to be editors or start a zine of their own?
I would have to say to not give up, EVER. Every bad idea sometimes sparks a good idea. Keeping your creative idea to yourself serves no purpose to anyone!
- How to start your own zine (by someone who’s been there)
- Jade Street Protection Services – a comic chock-full of diverse magical girls
- Anime and comic conventions in the UK in 2017