Freelance Illustrator and comic creator Jasmin Garcia-Verdin unveils the motivation behind her epic sci-fi webcomic Spacewarriors, in anticipation of its relaunch on June 1st, and also teases us on her next project, Girl Knight: a medieval coming-of-age. She is also a passionate educator in all things art-related; eager to share her process, tips and tricks with all those interested, Jasmin is a rewarding follow on social media – talking, showing and vlogging her way through the process of making comics.
BROKEN FRONTIER: Can you tell us a bit about how your art first ventured over into the comic medium?
JASMIN GARCIA-VERDIN: At the heart of why I make art is the need to tell compelling stories. Venturing into the comic medium was both a practical and natural progression. I started playing around with comics back in middle school when I became entrenched in reading any manga I could get my hands on. I was in awe at how I could get completely lost in a truly fantastical world by reading manga like Magic Knight Rayearth – I wanted to do the same as an artist with my stories, so I would draw little comics here and there, even though I was absolutely terrible at it. I genuinely thought that being a manga-ka would eventually catch on as a viable career in America… I was wrong. By college I accepted the inevitable reality that I would be telling stories through comics forever as a hobby.
BF: What was your creative process for Spacewarriors?
GARCIA-VERDIN: In college, I was fascinated reading about astrophysics, eastern philosophies, and the psychology of trauma. It took feeling restless while working a dead-end office job a few years later that their impact distilled into daily daydreams about superhero-like aliens protecting the universe and feeling lost themselves – as lost I was navigating a doomed corporate world with no purpose (the popular company I worked at was in the midst of a bankruptcy). The first materialization of this story was drawn on a post-it note during a dismal lunch break. Much like after the Big Bang, it took several more years for concrete forms of the story to materialize more clearly. This is when a talking three-eyed cat appeared, and the ending formed. The story changed a lot depending on the tone and message as I navigated these themes and topics on my own, but the main component was the need to answer the existential question I was struggling to grapple with in my own life – why are we here?
Two years after that initial post-it note, I had an outline and the script to Part 1. A year later, I finally published that portion as a comic on my website. It’s been two years since that. So all in all, it has taken a little more than 5 years of to get to this point where the last portion of the story, Part 3, is on its way to fully form.
BF: From your Let’s Start a Band zines, to your semi-biographical Cucamonga comic, and now the Spacewarriors web comic, how do you feel your abilities and areas of interest have changed?
GARCIA-VERDIN: I know, these projects are vastly different from each other. They reflect the interests I am collecting through the years, from backpacking the outdoors to magical teen adventures. I used to think this was a lack of focus but in seeing how I can create finished work pulling from these varying interests, I’m embracing it. I have a Victorian horror story I’d like to finish writing to turn into a short comic, a YA fantasy novel in the works, and once Spacewarriors is completed, I plan on moving on to a comic project that takes place in medieval France. None of these projects are in the same genre! I hope that readers can jump into these different worlds as easily as I can.
As far as abilities go, I struggled for years to take the leap into finally drawing Spacewarriors. I feared I wasn’t “ready” skills-wise. Eventually I realized I’ll never feel ready and embraced imperfection for the sake of just getting the darn story out. Questioning my abilities is a daily practice and I’m improving my drawing and storytelling skills every day.
BF: Webcomics are an inherently flexible form, without the permanence or set format of print. What have you found different between making print comics and working on the web?
GARCIA-VERDIN: Indeed! Print comics require painstaking consideration of the physical qualities of the comic and the logistics of printing; it’s an added layer of complexity that I am not looking forward to when Spacewarriors is completed and I eventually attempt to print it as a graphic novel. I have found working on the web much more forgiving for new comic artists like myself, both in terms of much easier exposure and the impermanence of the actual artwork – I have edited pages in Spacewarriors multiple times directly on my site after seeing spelling and line work mistakes. I recently re-edited Part 1 yet again for the relaunch. That is impossible in print. Once it’s printed…those mistakes are forever. Because of the fact that I am still improving immensely, I am grateful for the forgiving nature of working on the web.
BF: What can readers expect in the Spacewarriors relaunch; will this complete the Spacewarriors story?
GARCIA-VERDIN: With daily posts on Instagram and weekly posts on Webtoons, they can expect an updated version of Part 1 and a new Part 2. Part 3 is still in the works but I have plans to finish the entire story by summer of 2021. Most likely there will be a brief break after Part 2 is published so I can finish making Part 3.
I wish I could already have all three parts complete, but this is a hobby at the moment unfortunately. The purpose of the re-launch is to publish the new Part 2 and gain enough exposure to acquire any amount of funding to support completing this project. If I can make any income, no matter how small, it will help me invest the time needed to finish it as soon as possible.
BF: Let us talk a bit about your plans for the future after Spacewarriors. It looks like you are moving from science fiction straight into medieval with Girl Knight – that is quite a genre change; did anything inspire this change specifically?
GARCIA-VERDIN: Tell me about it! I studied history in college so it only makes sense that I eventually turn my interest in the past to translate into a medieval coming-of-age story requiring extensive historical research. France, during the first half of the 15th century, was a complete political mess and all hope seems lost – especially after the battle of Agincourt. The devastation of the French countryside is unimaginable. Alys’ journey as a girl who fights her way into becoming a knight to make sense of this senseless chaos slowly rose to the surface of my imagination a few years ago during a deep dive research session on Joan of Arc. Alys’s story is nothing like Joan of Arc but the idea of an outspoken teenager changing the course of a country engulfed in chaos is nothing short of inspiring because we’re not talking about a fantasy… this really happened. You can even read the court documents of her trial – she was smart and incredibly brave. Did you know she’s considered the first female general in the Western world? If Joan could exist in this cruel and unforgivable landscape, why not Alys?
Like Alys, we too are facing an overwhelming amount of uncertainty at this time and I often wish I too could pick up a sword and gallop towards the enemy in the hopes of vanquishing these anxieties. In Spacewarriors existential questions are explored inwardly, and, in Alys’s story, the questions might be the same but perhaps not the answers.
BF: Lastly, can you tell us about a webcomic you have really enjoyed?
GARCIA-VERDIN: Yes! I have been really enjoying following Jake Wyatt’s Necropolis webcomic. It’s so, so rich in story and the artwork is absolutely stunning. Every time I read any of the pages I am instantly inspired.
You can find the Spacewarriors webcomic via Instagram or Webtoons. For more on the work of Jasmin Garcia-Verdin, visit her website and follow her on Instagram . She also makes informative YouTube videos that go into more detail about her creative process.
Interview by Rebecca Burke