Interview: Heather Nunnelly

Today we’re joined by Heather Nunnelly.  Heather is an incredibly talented professional comic book artist.  She draws a comic with an asexual main character entitled Vacant.  My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview



Please, tell us about your art.

I am a professional comic book artist. Right now I am working on a science fiction/film noir web comic called VACANT that stars an Asexual main character with a crew of varied sexualities. Along side that I am working on Illegal, a comic written by Jeremy Whitley, and do various illustrations to make a living.

What inspires you?

Being a feminist and trying to promote the positives ideas associated with movement. As a child I lived a very difficult life because of my gender, and I don’t want other little girls and boys to have to live the same life I did. I want to spread awareness, educate others, and inform others that they don’t have to feel alone.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I wanted to be a part of the field because my sister was always very good at it. Her name is Michelle Nunnelly, and I was mesmerized by her work; so much so that I wanted her to teach me.  She did, and in return I taught her how to tell a story.

We’ve been drawing since we’ve been children. So for most of my life.

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?

Not really. The only thing I can think of is that a lot of my characters have a lot of sass. But, the only reason on  that is because I, myself, think I am too nice. A part of me wishes that I were a lot meaner than I actually am, and that channels through the characters a lot.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t give up and don’t be afraid to fail. Make ugly art. That sounds stupid, but one of the biggest roadblocks I see in new artists is the fear to mess up. They want everything to be perfect. If it’s not perfect they beat themselves up about it afterwards. This is unrealistic, unhealthy, and doesn’t allow you to grow.

Screw up, get used to screwing up, and then learn.



Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I guess I classify myself as Bi-Asexual, which is that I am Asexual, but wouldn’t mind dating a girl or a guy. The idea of being romantic interests me, I guess but not much else. I’ve never been in a relationship, and don’t plan on it anytime soon. I’m not against the idea; I am just very very very rarely into anyone enough to do so.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Oh my god. Yes. Where do I even begin with this question?

When I was younger I didn’t classify as Asexual. I didn’t even know what that was. All I knew was that I was “different”, and that I had no interest in dating when I was in school. For a very long time I thought I was broken because of it. I thought that I was a monster (I literally said this at some point).

Everyone else treated me like I was different, too. I was constantly called a prude, and that I was “very innocent and naïve”. A lot of my colleagues treated me like I was stupid. Whenever there was sex in movies or TV, they would explain to me what was happening. This was despite the fact that I was well educated, and knew exactly what sex was.

It hurt a lot. People still do it to this day. Someone recently explained to me what oral sex was. I know what that means. I also know where the clitoris is. Just because I am not sexual doesn’t mean I am a hermit and don’t know what these things are. Sexual Education is important, and I understand that. It’s important to understand your body and how it works.

As a result of this constant backlash, I started saying that I was Bisexual. It was easier saying that then explaining what Asexuality meant, and being convinced that “I wasn’t really Asexual. I am just confused”.

Even Hayze (The main character of Vacant) suffered from this. I started saying he was Bi, because it would have been too confusing to say that he was Asexual, too. It wasn’t until this year that this changed. I finally said that he was Asexual, and luckily everyone was very accepting.

Which is absolutely wonderful, and I thank everyone who has been supportive about it.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That we don’t know what sex is and that we can’t be aroused. I, as an Asexual, can look at someone and think, “they’re pretty”. I can write and draw porn and think it’s fun. As an Asexual, I am in charge of my sexuality. I can have the right to know what I want.

We also aren’t weird, prudish, or broken. We are not all victims of sexual assault. If your boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t into sex, they’re normal. Not being sexual doesn’t make you into a freak of nature.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

You’re not strange. Nothing about you is different than the person standing next to you. You can also find love and happiness. Someone will understand you. Don’t think that because you don’t want to have sex that people will reject you. You also don’t have to change. For anyone.

If you want to be single, be single. If you want a relationship, get one.

There are a lot of people who won’t understand. But there will be people who do.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

You may read VACANT (Which, again stars a Asexual character who talks about these things) here:

You can follow my art on tumblr here:

And here is my portfolio:


Thank you so much, Heather, for participating in this interview and this project.  It’s very much appreciated.

First Post: An Introduction

Hello there.

If you’re reading this, you’re obviously interested in this blog.  I figured it might be a good time to introduce myself.  My name is Lauren Jankowski.  I’m the author of “The Shape Shifter Chronicles” series (more information can be found on my website:  I specialize in writing strong kickass heroines because there are never enough in the fantasy genre.  I also happen to be aromantic asexual.  I’m very open about my orientation because asexuality is still a pretty invisible orientation and I never want anyone to go through what I did before realizing I was asexual.

Born This Way

When I was growing up, there was nothing about asexuality.  Anywhere.  I didn’t even have a name for my orientation.  When people began developing crushes, I was still lost in my books.  I really only realized something was different about me when I reached middle school and suddenly noticed that everyone around me was experiencing something I wasn’t:  romantic attraction.

To say that was scary is an understatement.

I spent most of my high school years trying desperately to diagnose myself.  I convinced myself I had a number of conditions and disorders.  For a brief time, I was even convinced I might have a brain tumor.  Every test I took came back negative.  Physically, I was perfectly fine if on the lighter side (I was also struggling with body image issues).  At home, I was receiving a toxic message:  I was just going through a phase, I was a late bloomer.  If I was patient, I would eventually become normal.

By some stroke of luck, I stumbled across the Asexual Visibility Network.  I can remember it vividly:  I was in the midst of a panic attack, desperately searching my “symptoms” on a library website, convinced someone would catch me.  When the website popped up and I scanned the words, my heart rate gradually slowed down as did my respiration.  I slowly uncoiled, leaned back in my chair, and thought, “Huh.  Well, that’s not so bad.”

The more I researched, the more comfortable I became with myself.  I wasn’t abnormal, I wasn’t sick, I was just born this way.

This isn’t the same experience all asexual-identifying individuals have, but there is a similar thread running through almost all our stories:  being scared and alone.  Feeling broken, messed up, or abnormal.  There are ace-identifying individuals out there right now who have no idea there’s a name for their orientation.  We are bombarded with messages that sex is a necessary part of life.  If you don’t desire it, you’re somehow unhealthy or repressed.

Living in a Monosexist Society

Monosexism has a couple different definitions, but the one I prefer is the belief that sexual orientation falls on a gay/straight spectrum, thereby erasing bisexuals, pansexuals, and asexuals.

When I come out to people, I’m often met with the same questions:  “But how do you know you’re really asexual if you’ve never even had sex?” or “Are you sure it’s not a hormone thing?  You should probably see a doctor just to make sure.”  I’ve had a couple friendships fall apart because people didn’t believe in asexuality and thought I was lying to them for some odd reason.  The erasure of asexuality is extremely harmful and I wish more people understood this.

I’ve had a number of people approach me at conventions and tell me they had never heard of asexuality, but it totally described them.  Can you imagine not having a term for a crucial part of your identity?

Society has started to catch onto the term asexual, but unfortunately, a lot of mainstream media hasn’t bothered to research the term.  So aside from asexual erasure, ace-phobia has begun to pop up in extremely insidious ways.  You have a lot of narratives I refer to as “Fix the Asexual” (a good example being the film “The Olivia Experiment” or an episode of “House” that dealt with asexuality in the most insensitive way imaginable).  What I find disturbing is how many pro-equal rights people believe there’s nothing wrong with “Fix the Asexual” narratives.

As a passionate genre feminist, I’ve seen how asexuals narratives have begun to be seen through a very narrow lens.  Our stories are being told through a white, cis-het patriarchal lens, and that needs to change.

What Brought About this Blog

When I was querying literary agents and publishing houses, I encountered my fair share of misogyny (I was a poor woman without any connections.  How dare I consider myself worthy of publication!).  I’ve heard every sexist rejection you can imagine (including one really wonderful individual who said my books had “too much estrogen” in them.  Charming.  I also had a literary agent freak the hell out because a lot of my characters are queer).  However, the only one that really bugged me was a literary agent who said “asexuality is too niche to move books.”  Um, okay.  People aren’t niche.  I’m not niche.  Why can’t heroines be asexual?  Who says fantasy with asexual characters won’t sell?  Because I know of quite a few readers who would disagree with this.

So, like many asexual-identifying individuals who want to get their stories out there, I went into self-publishing.  Indie publishing is starting to be seen as a valid method of publishing, but indie authors (especially newer ones) still have to deal with a massive amount of bullshit.  You hear all kinds of “that’s not real writing” crap from a lot of traditionally published authors.  But here’s the thing:  traditional publishing isn’t open to everyone.  It’s a rigged game and there are massive amounts of people who the gatekeepers turn away due to unconscious bias.  Asexuals are seen as niche, so their narratives are often ignored.

I’ve written about this elsewhere (on the Asexual Artists Tumblr), but what brought this around was a blog about asexual representation in books that included almost no asexual authors.  Worse, one of the only books by asexual authors was a romance anthology (because non-asexuals love to gawk at the kinds of attraction asexuals feel.  As if that’s solid proof our orientation isn’t real).  So, I did what I normally do:  I ranted and raged about the damn list.  A friend of mine asked me to make my own list of asexual authors.  I thought that was a brilliant idea . . . until I realized I couldn’t think of any (besides me, obviously.  God, that would have been a pompous list:  Asexual Authors!  Me!).

The more I thought about it, the more bothered I became.  No openly asexual artist has ever been up for any major award (any of the literary ones, Oscars, etc.).  Try as I might, I couldn’t think of many asexual artists.  That needed to change.  Asexuals needed a resource to show we were indeed out there.

So I put out a call on Tumblr.  Wanted:  Ace Artists from all fields and all over the ace spectrum.  To be interviewed and profiled for this new project.

This is the result.  I will be interviewing ace (and aromantic) artists for this blog.  This is going to be a resource for those on the ace and/or aro spectrum.  It will mostly be modern artists, but I plan to tackle historical aces at some point in the future.  Future aces need to know that it’s okay to be who they are.  They need to see asexual artists telling their own stories.

As I mentioned before, I’m also a genre feminist (intersectional, obviously.  Because women kick ass).  At some point, I’ll write about the intersection between feminism, asexuality, and art.

The posting schedule will depend on when artists respond.  To begin with, I will likely be posting every other day starting tomorrow.  There may be times when I don’t have access to my laptop or when I’m busy with writing projects (I make my living as an author after all).

I’m still working on the menus, but I have a page for links about asexuality (for those who may be interested).  I also have “Asexual Artists Links” where you’ll find links to the artists profiled/interviewed for this site.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for reading 🙂