There is so much garbage in the world right now and somehow it all seemed to catch on fire at the same exact time. But one thing that is neither trash nor on fire is Sarah Graley’s upcoming Oni Press comic, Kim Reaper. Instead, Kim Reaper is a bright spot, full of cute art, cuter characters, funny jokes and a compelling story about death, college and romance. Graley’s comics have been putting a smile on my face for a while, and I definitely had one while reading the first issue of her new book.
Kim Reaper is about a college student named Becka who has a crush on her classmate Kim. One day when she’s following her down the hall of their school to finally talk to her, she sees Kim open up a portal. That’s weird, but Becka’s still into it, so she follows Kim and learns that she’s a Grim Reaper in training. The art is adorable and fun, the characters are great and quickly establish themselves, and the universe that Graley builds is super interesting; I can’t wait to explore it further. I chatted with Graley to find out more!
Mey: This comic has a lot of the hallmarks of the comics of yours that I’ve read and loved in the past (cats, gothy stuff, queer ladies), how did you put all of that together and come up with this idea?
SG: Everything I write is always linked to personal experiences, and I was a teenage goth! (I mean, I wanted to be a goth, but goth fashion is really expensive and I was 13, so it was more like, awkward mess with dyed black hair).
Maybe this sounds a lil’ embarrassing now, but when I was 12-13 I used to dream about being a grim reaper. I lived by a cemetery and I was really scared of zombies and had a lot of zombie nightmares, so it was kind of how I dealt with those/any other nightmare fuel. Zombies and other ghouls can’t really out ghoul death, y’know? I can now confirm at the sweet tender age of 25 I do not dream about being death anymore! But I liked the ideas from those dreams and thought they’d make a really fun comic – it’s definitely been a fun comic to make!
I initially had no intention of including cats in this series, but they become a big plot point in issue 1, haha! I have four cats so I think it was maybe impossible not to include some as I’m usually surrounded by them while working. I also love writing queer stories! I grew up with tv/books that lacked queer representation (which confused teen me would’ve really appreciated having!) so now I’m like geddoutta my way world, i’m writing all the gay adventures.
M: Death is one of the big themes in this comic, but it’s definitely not grimdark like so many comics we’re seeing today. How did you find the right balance of death and comedy and lightness?
SG: Oh man, Kim Reaper being grimdark never crossed my mind! The story is steered by Kim’s profession of being a part time grim reaper, but the focus is totally on Kim and Becka’s relationship. I’ve been most excited about the potential adventures the two could go on, rather than taking it somewhere gruesome! Which is kind of funny, because I mainly listen to true crime podcasts while working on this, which are like, incredibly grim. There’s conflict and unfortunate events, but I think the focus is on the two characters navigating Kim’s bizarre job and kickin’ butt.
M: Right now comics that make you happy are super important, it’s hard to feel happy and so nice stories like this are definitely a welcome reprieve. What kind of reaction are you hoping to get from readers?
SG: I just hope that everyone has as good time reading Kim Reaper as I’ve had working on it! What’s happening in the world at the moment is really worrying and stressful, so I hope my comics can help serve as a nice break! I love dipping into other people’s worlds when reading comics, and I hope everyone enjoy’s Kim and Becka’s antics.
M: Final question: are we gonna see some smooching???
SG: If Kim can get her act together and stop goofin’ up!! I mean… spoilers… but maaybe, y’all just gonna have to pick this series up and see!
So, let’s all go out and pick up the series and hope and pray that Kim gets her act together! The final order cutoff is March 13th, so go and tell your local comic shop that you’re interested. Issue #1 comes out April 5th. In case this wonderful interview wasn’t enough to charm you, maybe these preview pages will.
New Releases (February 8)
Welcome to Drawn to Comics! From diary comics to superheroes, from webcomics to graphic novels – this is where we’ll be taking a look at comics by, featuring and for queer ladies. So whether you love to look at detailed personal accounts of other people’s lives, explore new and creative worlds, or you just love to see hot ladies in spandex, we’ve got something for you.
If you have a comic that you’d like to see me review, you can email me at mey [at] autostraddle [dot] com.