Interview | Sophia Foster-Dimino

Multiple Ignatz Award winner Sophia Foster-Dimino says Small Press Expo is “like a summer camp for cartoonists.”

With Small Press Expo just over a month away, I thought it would be a good time to post this interview, which was done at last year’s SPX.

Sophia Foster-Dimino

Sophia Foster-Dimino was one-third of the reason that women creators swept the 2015 Ignatz Awards: She won three out of the nine awards, taking the Outstanding Series award for Sex Fantasy, Outstanding Minicomic for Sex Fantasy #4, and the Promising New Talent Award. I spoke to her on the exhibit floor the day after the Harveys.

Can you tell us a bit about Sex Fantasy?

Sex Fantasy is a series that I have been doing for about two years now. They are small format zines, 4 x 4 inches. The first three were kind of like a stream of consciousness explanation of different ideas, and then the next three, 4 through 6, have been more structured narratives. I’m trying to explore things in this series that I wouldn’t want to tackle in a larger book. Like kind of a safer space to play around with new ideas in a small format.

Do you sell them mostly at conventions?

Yes, I actually sell them only at conventions. I don’t sell physical copies online, because they are free to read on my Tumblr, but I’m a big believer in physical zines and objects that can be shared between people, so I do make physical copies to sell at conventions.

Sophia Foster-Dimino Sex Fantasy

Tell me about the Tumblr. How does that work for you?

It’s been good. It’s definitely given me a wider audience. I started out in 2010, 2011, with no followers, and then it kind of blew up. I met new people through there, people send me really nice messages, recommending things to check out or giving me good feedback. I keep my followers updated on where I’m going to be and what I’m working on.

How do people find you?

I think mostly from my friends who were established, helping to promote my work early on, so some of their fans could be my fans. People just kind of share among themselves, and that’s how a fanbase grows.

A piece from Retrofit's Future Shock Zero anthology
A piece from Retrofit’s Future Shock Zero anthology

How many shows do you do a year?

I probably go to about four per year. So far I’ve been to RIPE, Rhode Island Press Expo, which is in March; and I went to TCAF, which I go to every year, it’s in Toronto, that’s a big deal with me; I’m doing SPX; and my last show of the year is COLA, Comic Arts LA, which is a new show, it’s only in its second year, but it’s one of my favorites so far. My friends are the organizers and they do a really good job putting it on.

So Tumblr is building your audience, but are you able to monetize it in any way?

I believe that I do. I don’t take a purely economic view towards it because I think it’s hard to quantify just how many people look at it. It’s true that financial support is obviously necessary and important, but just having people respond to my work, even though there is no pay involved, is a big driving force behind what I do, so I don’t want to downplay that. Otherwise the life of a cartoonist is very isolated and it’s easy to get discouraged, so that kind of recognition is a big deal for me. I do think I monetize a little bit—I sell comics online and and I get benefit from that—but I don’t see it purely in those terms.

Do you have a day job?

I don’t have a day job. I quit my day job one year ago to try to do not just comics design but drawing design, I am a freelance illustrator and I do animation as well.

Why do you like to come to SPX?

SPX is wonderful because everyone is really friendly. I think that the selection is always really great, I see all my friends here, it’s kind of like a combination of selling your own work, meeting your fans, learning about new artists, seeing your friends, catching up with what people are doing, going to panels and learning about work and new topics, so it’s really like a summer camp for cartoonists. It’s a really rich experience.

Below: Two pages from First Date.

Sophia Foster-Dimino First Date 1

Sophia Foster-Dimino First Date 2

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