On 10/16/16, we interviewed Tommy Roddy, creator of the teen superhero comic Pride High, for our second annual Graphic Novel / Web Comic week. More info about Tommy and his work at the end.
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J. Scott Coatsworth OK, it’s the final day of our graphic novel /web comic week. Today, we have Tommy Roddy, creator of the Pride High series. Hey Tommy!
J. Scott Coatsworth Want to tell us a little about yourself?
Tommy Roddy Good morning!
Tommy Roddy Sure thing. I grew up in South Carolina, went to school in New England, then eventually settled in San Francisco.
Tommy Roddy I was always a fan of comics, particularly Teen Titans.
Kari Trenten Mmm, Teen Titan. Mmm, George Perez and how he drew Dick Grayson. (heart) Joseph…(weeps)
Tommy Roddy It was no surprise to my parents when I told them about Pride High.
J. Scott Coatsworth Oooh, I loved the Teen Titans. I used to have the first 30 or 40 issues. :P
Tommy Roddy There was a collective “duh” from them. “Of course you’re writing a comic book!”
J. Scott Coatsworth LOL… so what is Pride High about?
Tommy Roddy It’s about a Gay-Straight Alliance at a school for superpowered youth.
Tommy Roddy GSAs aren’t as common in some parts of the country, but they’re student clubs that serve as an affirming safe space for LGBT youth and their allies.
J. Scott Coatsworth Yes, we have a lot of them here in Sacramento.
J. Scott Coatsworth So in your mythos, how do kids get their powers?
Tommy Roddy They’ve really taken off in recent years.
Tommy Roddy Oh, all different ways. There isn’t a set source.
Tommy Roddy One of the main characters, Kid Mischief, got his powers after getting caught in the psionic crossfire of a battle between a mutant hero and an archvillain.
J. Scott Coatsworth Yeah, As you do. ;)
Tommy Roddy Another, Kid Olympus, had his powers bestowed by the Greek gods.
Angel Martinez Do they have superpowered teachers? And is it a private school? or is the government involved?
Tommy Roddy Private school, and yes, all members of the faculty have superpowers.
Tommy Roddy The government isn’t involved directly, but they have corporate sponsors.
J. Scott Coatsworth Do you do everything? Story, art, lettering?
Tommy Roddy Story and lettering. Art, no way, or Pride High would be stick figures. I do plan on doing a mini-issue with my own art one day. Mini, mini, mini issue…
Jeff Baker “no way, or Pride High would be stick figures.” If there’s humor like that in the book, it’s gotta be a blast!
J. Scott Coatsworth LOL… yeah, I suggested to Alex and Adam of The Young Protectors that they do a page and switch roles.
J. Scott Coatsworth Alex is apparently a talented artist – at stick art. ;)
Tommy Roddy Haha, that would be great!
J. Scott Coatsworth So how did you come up with the idea for the series?
Tommy Roddy It came about from my guild in City of Heroes.
J. Scott Coatsworth ?
J. Scott Coatsworth splain?
Tommy Roddy City of Heroes was an MMO that had superheroes in tights and capes instead of the usual (for the time period) orcs and elves
Tommy Roddy Though, you could always create an orc or elf in City of Heroes. Very broad genre-wise, as superhero comics tend to be.
Angel Martinez https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Heroes
City of Heroes – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
J. Scott Coatsworth The education of Scott continues.
Tommy Roddy I would often write short stories featuring the characters my friends and I created.
Tommy Roddy Those stories got longer and longer, and one day I thought, “this should be a comic book.”
J. Scott Coatsworth Have you published any prose?
Tommy Roddy Nope
Tommy Roddy One day, hopefully!
Angel Martinez Do you write it as a large ensemble cast or are there main characters?
Tommy Roddy It’s a large ensemble, but the story does begin to focus on one character in particular.
J. Scott Coatsworth Who?
Tommy Roddy Can’t really say without spoiling some early issues.
Tommy Roddy But it becomes apparent by Issue 4
J. Scott Coatsworth LOL…
J. Scott Coatsworth How long have you been doing the series?
Tommy Roddy It started back in 2006. There was an extended hiatus and recently picked back up August of this year.
J. Scott Coatsworth Are you excited to be coming back to it?
Tommy Roddy Absolutely.
Tommy Roddy I really missed it, but I didn’t realize how much until I got the ball rolling again.
J. Scott Coatsworth So who does the art? And how did you find them?
Tommy Roddy It varies. The first artist was Brian Poncé.
Tommy Roddy I’ve had a rotating group of artists including Shaun Piela, Robert Rivera, William O. Tyler, Brian F Gressett, Blake Curia, Dex Craig, Paul Jack, Diego Gómez, and Patrick Pungpee
J. Scott Coatsworth How do you keep consistency in the look with so many artists?
Tommy Roddy There are certainly changes from issue to issue, but the characters all have signature looks that come through, regardless of the artwork.
J. Scott Coatsworth It’s almost like a Pride High artists’ collective ;)
Tommy Roddy One of the things about Pride High is that it is a collaborative effort,
Tommy Roddy Yes, pretty much.
Tommy Roddy Even readers are a part of the action.
Tommy Roddy From the very first issue, it has also included reader characters.
J. Scott Coatsworth This series seems like it would be a natural for GSAs around the country. Have you done any youth outreach?
Tommy Roddy I have in the past, but print copies of the comic can be prohibitively expensive.
Tommy Roddy I started back before Kickstarter and Patreon really got going, so crowdfunding wasn’t what it is now.
Tommy Roddy I did attend a California GSA Network conference in 2007, I believe, which was an incredibly experience. The comic was received quite well by the students.
J. Scott Coatsworth Yes, Patreon seems to be a really big deal for comic creators. It lends itself well with the possibilities for fan rewards…
Tommy Roddy I was also shocked to learn that there were GSAs in middle schools.
Jeff Baker I didn’t know what gay was in Jnr. High (early 1970’s.)
J. Scott Coatsworth Yeah?
Tommy Roddy I grew up in South Carolina, so the idea of GSAs in high school was mindblowing enough :)
J. Scott Coatsworth So what parts of the LGBTIQA spectrum are covered in your characters? Give me some examples?
Tommy Roddy Mindsweeper and Kid Mischief are gay, Suravi is a lesbian, Scotch Bonnet is bi-curious, Chip Cheetah is Euro-trash (his words).
Tommy Roddy There are other identities within the spectrum that will be featured, including a trans character, but can’t really elaborate due to, well, spoilers :)
J. Scott Coatsworth LOL… I’m not sure Eurotrash is one of the usual categories. ;)
Tommy Roddy Chip basically reclaimed that term for himself. He’s from the UK and got a bit of flack when he arrived at Poseidon Prep, the school Pride High is set in.
J. Scott Coatsworth So what’s the process? Do you put out a page a week online? Or work on it until you have a whole issue, then release it?
Tommy Roddy Originally it was the standard comic released by issue
Tommy Roddy I’ve shifted gears so that it’s a webcomic that updates every MWF.
Tommy Roddy Patreon supporters get to see pages up to 2 weeks in advance
J. Scott Coatsworth Wow – three pages a week???
Tommy Roddy it’s produced with a large buffer.
Jeff Baker :)
Tommy Roddy thus, having all the pages that are available for Patreon rewards.
J. Scott Coatsworth Ah ok. But still… I do a serial story on my blog (prose) and I’m hard-pressed to do once a week.
Tommy Roddy The webcomic is on Issue 8 atm, with edits for Issue 9 and Issue 10 in production.
Tommy Roddy This way, there aren’t the long gaps that occurred between the first 7 issues of Pride High
J. Scott Coatsworth Are the earlier ones also available online?
Tommy Roddy Yes.
J. Scott Coatsworth How many pages in an issue, typically?
Tommy Roddy 32
J. Scott Coatsworth So *does the math* about 2 1/2 months per issue. :)
Tommy Roddy *nod*
J. Scott Coatsworth Will you still be doing print editions?
Tommy Roddy Yes, but primarily for conventions.
J. Scott Coatsworth Gotcha.
J. Scott Coatsworth So, say someone wants to become a part of the Pride High empire.
J. Scott Coatsworth How would they connect with you?
Tommy Roddy [email protected]
Tommy Roddy though, more like a fief vs. an empire ;)
J. Scott Coatsworth And Patreon?
J. Scott Coatsworth what are the options?
Tommy Roddy https://www.patreon.com/pridehigh
Tommy Roddy From “Prospective Student” to “Faculty,” supporters get extra pages every Monday, along with special rewards for those with access to the Staff Lounge :)
J. Scott Coatsworth Cute. :P
J. Scott Coatsworth I love the idea of this series. Growing up, I think we all wanted to have super powers. I *so* wanted to fly. In fact, flying dreams are some of my favorites. And I love comics that portray queer heroes. We need them.
J. Scott Coatsworth Where can folks buy them?
Tommy Roddy Unfortunately, there is limited physical availability for Pride High outside of the convention circuit, though a digital trade collection is carried by Northwest Press
Tommy Roddy http://northwestpress.com/shop/pride-high/
J. Scott Coatsworth OK, and as we wrap things up, any art you can share with us?
Tommy Roddy oh, absolutely!
Tommy Roddy here are two of my favorite covers, Issues 6 & 7:
J. Scott Coatsworth Oooh, cute guy bottom right. :P
Tommy Roddy He’s actually one of the main villains, Kid Olympus
Tommy Roddy Was once best friends with Kid Mischief, then it all fell apart when Jorge came out :(.
Jeff Baker J. Scott Coatsworth Yes! Give him a centerfold! :)
Tommy Roddy He actually has his own mini-comic. 2 issues so far.
Tommy Roddy http://pridecomics.com/webcomic/issue06/37.html
Tommy Roddy http://pridecomics.com/images/ko2/kid-olympus-2.pdf
Tommy Roddy Issue 2 was part of a contest where fans submitted scripts and one was chosen for a full-color mini done by the amazing Anne Cain.
Jeff Baker Looks good! I geeked-out on Greek/Roman Mythology when I was a kid!
J. Scott Coatsworth We’ll be posting this transcript on our website shortly. If you have any other questions for Tommy, feel free to leave them here.
J. Scott Coatsworth And Tommy, if you don’t mind circling back to check and answer any that come through?
Tommy Roddy Sure thing!
Tommy Roddy Had a minor internet hiccup there.
J. Scott Coatsworth LOL… ok, that wraps things up. Thanks for joining us!
Tommy Roddy Thanks for having me!
Jeff Baker Yes! Thanks to you folks fo doing this! I grew up reading comics and this is the first I’d heard of Pride High! :)
Kari Trenten Thank you for stopping by to visit us and sharing your comic! I’m really intrigued by your Kid Olympus arc, where he was best friends with Kid Flash, but now he’s a villain. I’ve got a weakness for that sort of character plot. :)
Tommy Roddy My pleasure! As for the KO arc, it is a big part of the Pride High story. Losing friends is a painful reality of coming out, especially so young.
Tommy Roddy’s photo.
Tommy Roddy – Pride High
Pride High follows the adventures of a Gay-Straight Alliance at a school for superpowered youth. When one of their friends dies under mysterious circumstances, the kids take matters into their own hands with the investigation. Along the way, they still have to deal with pop quizzes, bullies, and friendships frayed by homophobia.
Tommy Roddy is the creator and writer of Pride High. The comic was shaped in part by his experiences as a gay, biracial teen at a residential high school. He was the recipient of the Prism Comics Queer Press Grant in 2007. Also that year, he was awarded by Blind LGBT Pride for the positive portrayal of a blind lesbian teen and the availability of Pride High in Braille.