This week saw the release of Kim Reaper, the new series published by Oni Press from creator Sarah Graley. Graley is already known for her auto-bio webcomic Our Super Adventure, as well as previous work with Oni Press on the Rick and Morty: Lil' Poopy Superstar miniseries.
Kim Reaper marks Graley's big foray into her own fictional story, and we get a sweet, funny, and adorably 'grim' new adventure series. I spoke with Graley about the series, what we can expect and what it's been like going from auto-bio webcomics and licensed properties to this
Joe Glass: Tell us a bit about Kim Reaper? What's the series about, what can readers look forward to?
Sarah Graley: Kim Reaper is the story of two university students figuring out their early twenties – and also navigating Kim's weird job as a part time Grim Reaper, no big deal! The series features big crushes, lots of cats, muscular men, haunted ships, annoying bosses and DEATH. But also, lots of cute things.
JG: People might be more aware of your work from the webcomic Our Super Adventure or your work on the Rick and Morty comics. What is different about working on Kim Reaper from these other projects?
SG: With Our Super Adventure being autobiographical, and my Rick and Morty miniseries being based on an already existing cartoon, there were definitely more rules in regards to writing both of those – Our Super Adventure is based on real life events that have happened, and Rick and Morty has to stay true to the show to an extent. With Kim Reaper being my own creation, I have 100% freedom with the storyline and characters!
JG: Kim Reaper obviously includes some great LGBT representation right from the get-go. Was this a conscious decision or did it just come naturally?
SG: When I write a comic I usually start off with rough character designs before getting into the story – I knew I wanted Kim to be a woman, and after drawing her design and Becka's in my sketchbook they looked perfect together. I want to make comics with female leads, and as I figured out what Kim Reaper would be about, it became more obvious to me that it should be a goofy and fun romance staring these two.
I would like more LGBT representation in media, so the stories I write tend to reflect this! Becka is bisexual and that was a conscious decision. As a bisexual woman myself, I've noticed that it feels rare to see bisexual characters in stories in comics and on TV, so it's great to be able to include bisexual characters in my published work.
JG: Diversity has very recently come under the comics discussion microscope again. What are your thoughts on diversity's place within the medium?
SG: The world is a diverse place so comics should represent that, but I feel some comics don't and it's a shame. There are best selling graphic novels by women featuring women with LGBTQ themes (i.e Raina Telgemeier) that stay on top of the charts. There's totally an audience for diverse content and these books prove that.
JG: Can you give us a tease on the future of Kim Reaper? Or even what may be next down the line for you?
SG: There's danger in store for Kim alongside cute babes and dissertations, but her and Becka make a good team so hopefully they'll figure it out!
JG: Kim Reaper is definitely a fun and quirky series, in terms of art and humour, and yet from the premise it has so much potential to be dark. Was that part of the plan, twisting from something that could have been grim (excuse the pun) to something more joyful?
SG: I love making comics that are fun and upbeat! I'm a huge horror fan and have drawn a lot of this comic while listening to true crime podcasts, but a grim and scary comic just wasn't my vision for Kim Reaper. There are moments in the series that are quite serious/gruesome in nature, but I think even those pages turned out pretty cute! The focus of Kim's job revolves around death and her profession does form the main narrative of the comic, but I feel the series is more about Kim and Becka which I think steers it away from a darker narrative.
JG: What's it like working with Oni Press? What makes Oni the place for Kim Reaper?
SG: Working with Oni Press is a total dream! Scott Pilgrim (An Oni Press title) got me back into comics when I was seventeen, so working now with Oni Press feels serendipitous. My editor, Ari Yarwood, is amazing to work with, so I just feel very lucky about the whole thing! I'm a big fan of previous Oni Press titles, so it's cool I get to add to their back catalogue.
JG: What is your favourite part of comic making?
SG: Aw jeez, that's a tough one. I think maybe seeing the finished comic in print? That's pretty wild, seeing your work collected together into a physical form! Also when it's finished, that's usually when people can see what you've been holed away in your studio secretively working on for the past half year, haha!
Kim Reaper #1 is available in comic stores now!