Female Creators Project

Female Creators Project: Toril “Starlock”Orlesky

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I’m Toril, and I go by Starlock on most platforms. I’m 24 and currently live in New Zealand, although I’m a US citizen and spent most of my life in the Tri-state area and New England (specifically: New York City, Providence, Boston). You can find me on the following sites:

twitter: @_starlock
art blog: http://starlock.tumblr.com
webcomic: http://hotbloodcomic.com
portfolio: http://torilorlesky.com

What do you do? (Write, draw, edit, publish, promote etc.)
How did you get started doing that?

I’m a producer, author, designer, and artist– in that order. Like everyone else I’ve been drawing for most of my life, and I spent high school reading a lot of webcomics and high fantasy novels. I tried writing prose first because I wasn’t very adept at art for a long time… eventually I went to school for animation, worked for a bit in the video game industry, and finally decided to become fully self-employed and make a living by selling at conventions and running a webcomic. It worked, but only because I had a lot of help from my friend Emily. She taught me everything I know about cons!

What was your first comic? Why that one?

Hotblood! was my first major comic project. I was fresh out of art school and furiously impatient with fine art– I was chiefly interested in making something fun. Nothing is less pretentious than a western/romance story with centaursThe first comics I remember reading were the Adventures of Tintin, which were at the local library.

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Any current or upcoming projects we can find you on?

My next ongoing project will be Zarco, which I estimate will be ready to launch in January 2017.

Favorite inspiration, collaborators, other professionals you’ve worked with if any?

HamletMachine and her comic, Starfighter, were my No.1 inspiration for wanting to have my own webcomic! It was absolutely wonderful to work with Shelly Bond back when she was still with Vertigo, and with Anne Notation (who ran the Purity anthology).

Anyone you’d like to collaborate with some day? Why?

No, unless by “collaborate” you mean “act as producer”. I love marketing and publicity. I prefer it to the actual creative component of being an independent artist. So yes, there are people whose work I’d like to produce, but I don’t have the capital to go through with any of my plans– yet.

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Favorite genre to read? To work in? Are there any you won’t work in?

I love romance, slice of life, crime, science fiction, and historical fiction… right now I’m really into Metal Gear Solid and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and I recently read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, which I loved. I’d never want to write a story about artists, comics, or artists making comics. Whenever I see anything like that I think, “Go outside!”

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(See more of her Star Trek: The Next Generation drawings here.)

Have you ever faced adversity/discouragement for being a woman in your field? How did you overcome it?

I haven’t, actually. I look, physically, rather androgynous and I’ve always had the personality to be “one of the guys”… it helps to have short hair and wear a lot of plaid. It also helps to be 100% self-employed. I don’t have to deal with anyone telling me what not to do, for any reason.

Coolest moment you’ve had as a creator?

Ah, well, having my Kickstarter funded was a pretty great moment! But more than that, it means the world to me whenever anyone says they’ve started a comic or story because of my work, or was encouraged by something I’d said. I try to be the artist I needed to look up to when I was younger. I like to stay positive, but I don’t sugarcoat anything.

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How do you think the current comics industry is toward women? What can we do to improve it further and create a safe space?

I think it’s disgusting and I want nothing to do with it, honestly. Call me when companies stop protecting known sexual predators, abusers, and rapists– and also when they’re interested in paying a living wage– and we’ll talk… the only way to make the comics industry (or any industry, for that matter) a safe space is to develop a zero-tolerance policy for assault. I’m not interested in the current trend of tokenism for diversity’s sake, either– I find it laughable that men who write female characters are applauded as feminist and get more recognition than women or nonbinary individuals who write male characters, for example. We should be prioritizing real flesh-and-blood creators over the fictional content they’re making.

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Who are some of your favorite/most inspirational female characters to read? What about in other media (novels, TV, movies, pop culture)? Why?

I absolutely love Nyneve and Prill from Ariel Ries’ Witchy!! In other media… well, The Boss from Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid franchise is one of my favourite characters of all time… I also love Jolyne Kujo from Hirohiko Araki’s Stone Ocean, and Chihiro from Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. None of these characters are written as flawless female archetypes. They’re people, and they make mistakes, endure pain and joy, in believable ways. Their gender is important– they’d all be very different characters if they weren’t women– but it’s also not their sole character trait.

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What do comics mean to you?

For me, a “comic” is the only way to single-handedly create an animated feature film. I was trained in animation but I don’t particularly love the process, and I have no interest in the industry. I have no interest in the comics industry, either… I’m not here to make comics, or graphic novels. I’d say that the term “static film” is a better descriptor of what I produce.

Advice to other female creators in the field?

All I have here is general advice, because I (fortunately) haven’t had any of the specific experiences that come with being DFAB in this industry… but yeah, what I’ll say is: pick your battles, don’t worry about what other people are doing, and go outside. Cultivate other interests and hobbies. “Comics” can be a job, but it’s not worth giving up your life over.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently playing through Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and reading Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat. I can’t stress enough how important it is to consume media apart from comics… so many recent webcomics look very similar, aesthetically, you can tell the artists don’t have a big inspiration pool… there’s nothing wrong with this as long as everyone’s having fun, but it’s not exactly compelling, as a reader. Webcomics I keep up with include Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu, Quick$ilver by Emily Smith, Witchy by Ariel Ries, and Starfighter by HamletMachine.

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Want to join the project yourself? Email ab188302@reddies.hsu.edu or hit me on twitter @Beebidon!

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