Danielle Corsetto talks "Girls With Slingshots"

Danielle Corsetto lives in West Virginia, where she draws a webcomic called "Girls With Slingshots." It doesn't have too much in the way of slingshots, but it does have girls and a horny talking cactus named McPedro. The strip, which is now updated mostly daily at www.girlswithslingshots.com centers around the lives and misadventures of Hazel, a mildly boozy writer with hopes of an actual social life and her best friend Jamie, who is probably more life than Hazel can handle to begin with.

And a talking cactus.

CBR News sat down with Corsetto to talk about "GWS," the world famous Batboy, and life in West Virginia.

Why is your webcomic called "Girls with Slingshots?" I've detected a distinct lack of slingshots, although there are plenty of girls.

Okay, lame story behind this one, you ready?

I can't draw guns. I can draw girls. So when I started doing conventions, the sketches I would do for people would often be a "girl with a gun" which would turn into "girl hiding her gun so you can't see how crappy I draw guns." After awhile I just started giving the girls slingshots. Way easier to draw.

People started asking for those "girls with slingshots" drawings. I knew a catchy title when I heard one!

How do you describe to people what "Girls with Slingshots" is actually about?

I tell people it's about two girls, a bar and a talking cactus, but if I had to fit it into a Twitter post, I'd say it's a comedy about two 20-something girls tackling post-college independence. With a talking cactus. And booze. And the occasional dildo.

What inspired you to adapt your convention sketch characters into a webcomic strip?

Someone at a convention asked me when my famous "Girls With Slingshots" characters have their own webcomic, and I tossed out a date at random. I'd been publishing my college strip, "Ramblers," at PopImage.com for a year, but it'd kind of petered off and I needed a new strip anyway.

I created the first three "Girls With Slingshots" comics to debut October 1, 2, and 3 of 2004, conveniently falling on the weekend of SPX that year.

You've just recently bumped up the posting of new strips from three days a week to five. What led to that?

I was getting way too tied up in small, one-time jobs; illustrations, commissions, logos, etc. That took a lot of time and didn't make me happy, but it did pay the bills. The jobs were getting so time-consuming that I thought I'd have to quit doing "GWS" altogether to make ends meet.

I finally asked myself, "What would I like to do, day in and day out, that I know I'm capable of doing well?" Doing "GWS" full-time seemed impossible, but I decided that I'd rather give my readers the choice to keep it going through their donations, than to just quit it altogether. Between the donations and my ongoing caricature gigs, which I still enjoy and they pay well, I'm able to make a living and do only those side projects that I'll enjoy.

And I get to tell nearly twice as much "GWS" story! That was the real bonus for me.

Has it been difficult generating so much new work?  

Yes and no. It's been harder than I thought it would be, but having five straight days to tell a story arc is so helpful. I can tell more of the story, throw in silly gags when I want to, and rearrange the strips so that they flow better. I'm spending the first half of each week writing and the latter half drawing, which gives me a chance to re-read everything before I put it to paper. When I feel the work is getting better and better, I'm more excited to keep working on the strip.

Were you surprised at how well the donation drive went?

Heh, another "yes and no" question. I knew I had a lot of readers --and the readership is continually rising. So I knew I had a good shot at having enough donators to reach my goals, which is just enough money to pay my bills and cover taxes, but I was bracing for the worst in case it came. I'm very lucky and grateful that it didn't come to that!

Are we going to see a collected "GWS" print edition anytime soon?

Yes, and you'll see it this year. I'm going to collect the first 80-100 strips and add some extra goodies - hopefully a selection of "Bat Boy" comics and some older strips that might be of interest to hardcore GWS fans.

How did you end up working on the Weekly World News' most famous… er... celebrity, Bat Boy's strip?

What a random opportunity that was! A guy with a Superman belt buckle came up to me at one of the Big Apple cons in New York, and started flipping through my "GWS" strips.

"Is this yours?" he asked.

"Yes, it's mine," I said. "I'm not just a booth babe girlfriend of the real creator.

"Do you write it, too?"

"I do everything ."

He flipped a card my way and mentioned enthusiastically that he "might be able to use me" as he turned to leave. Turns out he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Weekly World News. Interesting way to hire artists. It worked!

Speaking of which, is "Bat Boy" continuing, with Weekly World News ceasing publication of the actual newspaper?

Unfortunately, because Bat Boy is the WWN's flagship character (and not mine), I can't and won't continue doing Bat Boy strips any longer. But I do plan to make them accessible to readers somehow; preferably online, and for free. In all fairness, Bat Boy is their character and their property, so the final decision is theirs to make.

You completed your first graphic novel recently, Jim Dougan's "Crazy Papers." What was that like?

That was an eye-opening experience for me! I figured I could move smoothly from comic strip format to comic book format. But then, I met my nemesis: backgrounds. Who the hell draws backgrounds?!

But it was educational, and I improved over time. I'm glad I did the book, and I'm especially glad that it was a comedic, slice-of-life book focusing on girls. Did I mention I can't draw men? Yeah, men and guns.

How'd you get involved with "Crazy Papers?"

I think Jim found me at SPX one year and perused my "GWS" collection online, liked what he saw, and contacted me. He discovered quickly that I preferred to draw the pages for cheap because I was so nervous about what the end product would look like, this being my first time doing a graphic novel! So it was a good match for both of us.

Do you have plans to illustrate a graphic novel from an original script of your own?

Yes,and I'm finally starting to work on my first GN. I've been sitting on the idea for two years and I think it's time to give it legs. Or, you know, pages.

Enough about you, let's talk about you. Where are you from and what did you do to end up in West Virginia?

I'm actually from Maryland, about half an hour from DC and Baltimore, but I moved to WV for school and I've called it home ever since. The town I live in is actually very liberal and artsy, and it's got a nice mix of poor college kids (many who make art) and rich commuters (many who buy art). I have sushi, a farmers market, the post office, my bank, a smoothie shop and a tea room within walking distance, and I'll never live in another town that doesn't have a train, a river, and church bells nearby. I live in heaven and I've got my dream job. Couldn't get better than that.

I'm sorry, I'm from Pennsylvania; I have a genetic imperative to make fun of WV, even if it is just a half an hour away.

That's okay. I make fun of Pennsylvanians all the time. Go Amish!

How'd you get into drawing?

It'd be easier to tell you the times I didn't get into drawing. When I was a year old, I couldn't hold a pencil yet, so there's that. I was in ballet until I switched over to horseback riding when I was ten, and I had some 4-H, church, and Girl Scout meetings in between there somewhere. Every other moment of my life, I was drawing.

How'd you start cartooning, since I can see you're frothing at the mouth to talk about it?

My second grade teacher got the ball rolling when she had us start daily journals, which I decorated to death with drawings in the margins. When I was in 3rd grade, my art teacher had us all draw a comic strip, and that was where I really found my calling. I did a cheap and blatant rip-off of Garfield, and from then on I was creating characters and stories nonstop.

What else is coming up? Anything extra cool?

Mainly, the GN I'm writing. I've decided to only allow myself gigs that seem like a lot of fun, most of which are pro-bono or to-be-paid-later, so I've got a lot of pin-ups and guest art for other artists in the works. I'm also doing illustrations for a short story that will be featured in an upcoming Christmas-themed anthology.

In "GWS" Land, I'm finally (although slowly) working on t-shirts and more merchandise, along with the "GWS" collection. Anything I do that's new and exciting (okay, arguably exciting) will be posted on my website first, so keep an eye on the blog below the strip!

Now discuss this story in CBR's Indie Comics forum.

Oberon #5

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