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Interview: Kat Calamia and Phil Falco on 'Slice of Life'

We chat with the two comic book writers about their new Kickstarter and how fan ownership comes at a price.

We've all been there, trapped in the pages of a comic book or a television screen. We've fallen in love with the imaginary worlds within, and we'd do anything to tumble in ourselves or rip them out and into our world. That's the basic gist of the new comic series, Slice of Life, from Kat Calamia, Phil Falco, and artist Valeria Peri.


Lucy cannot understand her sister Ravyn's obsession with the gritty anime series Lady Vengeance. From her point of view, it appears incredibly silly and overwrought - sophomoric, kids stuff. But then, one afternoon, the anime heroine Yuriko appears in the real world. And suddenly, the two sisters are tasked with adapting this warrior badass into our mundane existence.


Slice of Life began on WEBTOON, but as of this week, Calamia and Falco have launched a Kickstarter campaign to manifest the comic into a physical series. The narrative explores the nature in which we all attempt to cling onto and control our fandoms. As we travel with our fictional characters, we start to believe that we know what's best for them, and we demand that their creators stay true to our impossible vision. When the stories stray, our hearts boil.


Calamia and Falco want to challenge these impulses, and it was an absolute pleasure to chat with them about their own experiences with fandom and fictional crushes. Naturally, we have to share our imaginary infatuations as well. You get one guess, which television band makes a cameo in this conversation? Oh, Lisa, never change.


The discussion below is edited for length and clarity, but don't worry, the rest of this convo will appear on our next episode, where we will celebrate all things Baltimore Comic-Con. And guess what? Chicken Butt. No, Kat Calamia and Phil Falco will also be attending Baltimore Comic-Con next weekend. If you're in the DMV, make sure to swing by and say hello. Also, say hi to us. We'll have stickers.


But, most importantly, make sure that you jump on over to the Slice of Life Kickstarter and back this project. We've already done so. We had to get in on that Yuriko plush doll level.

Lisa: What I love so much about Slice of Life is that it pairs the experience of blossoming sexuality with fandom. Fandom, for a lot of young people, is a safe space where they can explore and express their sexuality in the context of, "I'm just a huge fan of this or that character." I was wondering if this is something that both of you can relate to, and also - who were some of your early character or celebrity crushes?


Kat: Okay, Phil, why don't you go first?


Phil: Sure. So starting with the first part of the question, totally, totally agree. That's something that we were very interested in, the relationship of fandom and this fictional character who our character Ravyn has latched onto, comes to life. And there's a beautiful side to that. Lady Vengeance, our anime character brought to life, means so much to Ravyn and potentially millions of other viewers of the anime. But there's also a toxic side to it, a problem wherein she feels a certain ownership over Yuriko, over Lady Vengeance, and the way that she has to be. And, yeah, we love complication.


Kat: We do.

Phil: We don't want to give an easy, straightforward answer in any way, so that's definitely one of the things that we're most excited to explore, to continue exploring as the story goes on. Both what does Lady Vengeance mean to Ravyn? Why is she, and so many other people, in love with this anime? But also, does Ravyn have a right of ownership to Yuriko? Which, spoiler alert, not really, Yuriko's her own person now, she gets to live out her own life and make her own decisions. I think we've, as creators, we've seen great people, great fans, and we've also seen a handful of toxic fans who do feel a little bit of ownership, and that's something that we're really excited to explore.


Kat: Yeah, for sure. I couldn't have said it better. I agree. I think, as much as this is a commentary on life, it's a commentary on storytelling and how that could relate to each other. So that's something we're really proud of. But going into that other fun part of that question, celebrity crushes, that's, that's so hard. I'm bisexual. So, there are so many, so many different ones. Now we're talking animation, or does it have to-


Lisa: Oh, from anywhere! So, to be honest, I'll open with one. When I was in middle school, when everybody else was into NSYNC and Backstreet Boys, I decided that I was into The Monkees and I made my whole life The Monkees. I dreamt about going back in time and marrying Micky Dolenz. It was just completely weird. But-


Brad: I like how you're saying this in the past tense as if that's still not the case.


Kat: I love that.


Lisa: Brad and I have a time-travel-wise open relationship, I hope. That I can marry anybody back in time.


Brad: If it's a Monkee.


Lisa: If it's a Monkee.


Phil: It's in recording now, so you can't go back on it.

Lisa: I'm curious about that very specific time in your life. Did you glom onto a character or a few characters like Ravyn and Lucy have?


Kat: I feel like I have, I always had favorite television shows growing up. I think my first favorite TV show was probably Lizzie McGuire, and probably my first celebrity crush too, just not knowing that in the past. I was a big Heroes fan, a big Smallville fan growing up. I don't know if it's to the extent of Ravyn, but... I don't know. It's so hard because I feel like back then, we're both 27, so the online community was there, but there was no Twitter or Facebook.


So I think I just watched the show, I went on maybe a forum. I talked about the episode and then I left and just didn't think about it other than like, "Oh, I love the show and I can't wait for next week." Who was I talking to about it? Not many people besides I guess myself and my dad or something, but even friends I had, they didn't watch Smallville and stuff like that. I don't know if I really had that in that regard. Funny enough, we both were really big Young Justice fans and that's how we, weirdly, met. Why don't you describe that story?


Phil: Yeah, Kat had been reviewing comics and geek properties on YouTube for years. And I had seen her because there's not a ton of people reviewing comics on the weekly, so I would always come across her when I wanted to know, "What are people thinking about this issue I just read?" And it turned out that Kat went to school with and was friends with a friend of mine, and she made the introduction and I was like, "Oh, I know you from your videos." And then we never talked about comics and stuff.


Kat: For like years. We just hung out.


Phil: We'd go to movies, we'd play video games and never talk about comics, despite both of us being very into them, Kat being a creator at that point, and I hadn't started yet until I was thinking about starting my own comic. And that's when we started talking about it.


Kat: But celebrity crushes growing up!


Phil: Yeah, I had a big crush when I was in elementary school. I used to watch Batman: The Animated Series a lot, and I always had a crush on Nightwing.


Kat: I was going to say, "I hope it's not Bruce Wayne." But, Nightwing, not with a mullet?


Phil: No, totally the mullet!


Kat: I liked Robin. But I wasn't a mullet fan.


Phil: In elementary school, I didn't know it was a crush because I didn't know what gay was at the time, but that was probably one of my earliest crushes. And then, shout out to Zuko and Avatar.


Kat: Zuko's pretty hot.


Phil: I really enjoyed the angst. I was an angsty pre-teen boy, so those would be my answers, sticking in the animation front.


Kat: That's so hard, though, but like Kara from Supergirl - Kara's hot.

This chat is just getting started. Be sure to tune into the main Comic Book Couples Counseling show next week to hear the rest of this Slice of Life discussion. And, don't forget, come join all of us at this weekend's Baltimore Comic-Con.