Today we’re joined by Matthew Cobb. Matthew’s a webcomic artist and a very talented one. His webcomic can be found at cobbillustrations.com. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I draw fanart and take some commissions, but my primary artwork is my webcomic, Oneiromancers. The main character, Madelyn Drielle, who is asexual and aromantic, has the ability to see the future through odd dreams. She uses her abilities to help people, but her world is changed when she finds she is not the only woman with such abilities.
What inspires you?
Movies, books, comics, manga… I really love a good story. Especially one with beautiful visuals or one with an intense mystery. I grew up on Scooby Doo, fell in love with Agatha Christie’s series of Hercule Poirot detective novels, and have most recently just begun digging into Murder, She Wrote. And while I haven’t really written or illustrated a mystery story yet I know I’m fated to one day because I love them so very much. For now, I work primarily with the urban fantasy subgenre, but I think my influences from mystery novels and manga adventures show through.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve been drawing since I was very young, starting with doodles I would copy off from my older sister. I believe I got interested in writing thanks to her as well while I was still a very impressionable sponge of a child. And in middle school friends introduced me to manga, which set me forward to today where I love manga, comics, and webcomics very much. I find graphic storytelling to be very beautiful and I love being a part of that.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in our work that you’d be willing to reveal?
In Oneiromancers, there are two physically different approaches to the illustration. Panels that occur in reality are generally quadrilaterals that are inked, whereas dream sequences have softer rounder shapes and are left at the pencil stage. This approach to panel layouts and style variation are far from groundbreaking, but they aren’t exactly common either so it is a little special to my work. There isn’t much else I can think of, but you can decide on your own.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
I went to art college. And while I did learn a number of things there I wish I hadn’t gone. It was a very expensive investment and I will be paying off the student loans for many years with hardly any money to keep for myself. If you enjoy art but are unsure if you could do it for a living, then wait. Go to a community college or a different specialized one or just don’t go yet at all, it’s always possible you could go later. But it’s a lot of money on the line, so think very VERY carefully about it.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
It is of course a very fluid spectrum, but I should say I am aromantic with demiromantic leanings and asexual with homosexual leanings. I should say so because I am hardly one to seek out sex or romance and am quite content to hope it doesn’t come looking for me. And if it does I will offer it a glass of water, ask if it wants to watch a movie or play a video game, and then wish it a fair farewell so I can get back to the important things.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
If “in my field” you mean “as an artist” then the main thing to acknowledge is that the big movies, shows, and comics, the ones random people can name as the classics, are almost all (if not all) going to have the protagonist fall in love. There are some, which I appreciate very much, where this is not the case. But that does not mean that the character is ace or aro, simply because they did not fall in love in this particular instance. So while these cases are important and do well to spread the message, “you don’t need to find romantic/sexual love, you’ll be ok without it,” I believe we can go further. We can have more protagonists that are canonically ace. So in my own work that is what I intend to do.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
I think people like me who haven’t dated are just expected to date later on and to keep the practice going. And if we don’t, it’s not because we’re asexual but because we haven’t met the right person. I get it. I get that children say they don’t want to have kids when they grow up and the parents laugh and say, “Oh we used to think the same way. But you’ll grow out of it just like we did,” and then a great number of those children will “grow out of it” and have kids of their own. But desiring sex and romance is not such a given that those who do like it should assume everyone else will eventually as well.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
If you’re struggling to label your orientation to better know who you are, then don’t worry about it (I know it’s not as simple as just “don’t worry” but hear me out). All sexualities are very fluid and nothing is set in stone. Everyone does change and grow but that doesn’t have to change who you are as a person. Take the time to experiment, to learn who you are by being out in the world. Those who say you just haven’t met the right person could be correct or not and it doesn’t matter. If you’re asexual today and heterosexual tomorrow that doesn’t matter either. If you’re trying to understand who you are then worry about who you are now and the rest will come in time.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
My webcomic along with a small portfolio I need to expand upon are currently hosted at www.cobbillustrations.com. There are icons on the bottom of each page of the site linking to my twitter, tumblr, and facebook. My facebook will do little more than tell you when my comic updates though it is a fair way to contact me. My tumblr will have updates along with some original illustrations and a good deal of fanart. My twitter will have all of that along with a bit more of my personality (which is not as refined as the voice I’ve used in this article, which is a bit more like I’m writing an essay I suppose). If you enjoy my comic or artwork, please do like or follow one of those social media sites. Every time that follower count goes up it does so fill me with glee. Thank you, and enjoy your day.
Thank you so much, Matthew, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.