So many of the great things I’ve seen in fandom have come to me via others. Fans are generous when it comes to sharing what they love, and because of that my experience has widened. coloredink pointed me towards the artist Pangaea Starseed, as they had worked together on an artist/writer collaboration for the Hannibal Spring Fling. And when I found their Hannibal art blog, my head kind of exploded. Their work, for lack of a better term, is stunning. After I stopped staring at the bloody and bright incarnation of the monster that haunts the dreams of Will Graham, I knew had to know more about this artist. So I crossed my fingers and hoped they would take part in this project and share with me their story.
Pangaea’s art is layered with mysticism and religious imagery. The images they create push towards you and radiate from the center, like a halo. Unconventional palettes skew your expectations. The ravenstag bleeds hot pink and is sliced like meat, raspberries and whipped cream feel like gore, and hearts are sacred and for consumption.
Pangaea was kind enough to be the first artist to allow me to interview them, and I am forever grateful for their time and patience with the process. I took the slow boat and we conducted this interview via email, sending rounds of questions and answers back and forth, slowly digging into the hows, whys, and whens of their fandom history. We dove deep into the details and stories behind their art and took a close look at eight of their Hannibal works to find out more about their process, inspiration and the thousand words behind each one.
There’s always a unique story behind every fandom handle. What is the origin story behind Pangaea Starseed?
While it sounds like a fluffy, new age artist’s moniker, I feel it’s actually bluntly autobiographical when it gets broken down. Pangaea can be taken apart as Pan and Gaea: the debauched goat-legged god, and the Earth Mother Goddess respectively. Male and female . . . I feel like both these figures at once. And while Starseed is the title of my first comic, I’ve recently discovered that it is also a fringe theory where people believe they originated as extraterrestrials and arrived on Earth through birth . . . so it outs me as a pretty queer individual in every sense of the word.
I’d love to know more about your Starseed project! How did that come to be? What is the story? You mentioned it’s your “first” comic project, are you working on others?
About four years ago my writer friend RM Rhodes and I decided to work on a comic project together, and the loudest story in my mind at the time was what would eventually become Starseed.
Starseed is exactly what it says on the tin: gay porn space opera (either you perked up, or you didn’t). It’s a story very heavily influenced by Star Trek, sci-fi tropes, and the old slash zines I was absorbing at the time of its inception.
As of typing this I’m working to finish the latest book… and looking forward to applying what I’ve learned about story-telling, comic making, and gender identity, and sexuality to future comic projects.
It sounds like you’ve been a fannish person for quite some time. How did you get into fandom? What was the first fandom you created works for?
Honestly, the first bits of fanart that I did, and didn’t really realize was fan art, were from Poppy Z Brite novels . . . in particular, Lost Souls, Drawing Blood, and Wormwood. From there I eventually moved on to, of all things, Dragon Ball Z (because I am a nerd for Vegeta and Bulma). I would continue to peck out drawings from both of these sources through high school and college, but never really creating a large volume of work . . . mostly because in those years I focused on original characters and stories.
The first proper, solid fandom I participated in was more than ten years later, with Star Trek TOS. Combine childhood influence with catching the energy wave of the reboot movie and you’ve got the path I tumbled down into the fandom. I was (and still am) an enthusiastic Kirk/Spock shipper, and while I made my own art and fic, I devoured all of the fan history of the fandom and show that I could. To this day I still have piles of classic zines and framed old art from my time in the fandom. I would highly recommend the art of Gayle Feyrer, and the meta of Brittany Diamond.
(For the curious: all my art and fic links can be found under my side-tumblr: princessofswordsart.tumblr.com)
This might be more of a “fandom and art” question, but how do you think people view fanart? There is sometimes a mixed reception to fanworks, and fan writing. What are your thoughts on the status of fanworks?
I think . . . that that is actually a very complex question, that is much larger than my own experiences and that I’m barely qualified to answer! I will say that over the past ten years I’ve absolutely observed a rise in the enthusiasm of creation and reception of fanworks, both in fan communities and the paying-attention public . . . and that makes me happy.
Can you tell me about your art background? When did you start creating?
I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember, and I’ve been a story junkie just as long, too. I was read to as a small child, I kept reading when I learned how on my own; I haven’t slowed down for a second, and to this day I am mainly artistically influenced by the stories I devour.
What mediums do you work with?
These days I’m exclusively digital, with a Wacom tablet and Photoshop. . . it’s just easier to get the art exactly how I picture it in my mind. I can rotate, resize, darken, lighten, recolor, etc., in an instant. But in the past I’ve used just about everything from pencils, ink pens, brush and bottle ink, watercolor paint, acrylic, oils, colored pencils, markers…
What’s something that you wish people would ask you about your art? (Or what would you like for people to know about your work?)
I think I just want people to be aware of how many layers of detail, balance and composition, symbolism and story-telling actually goes into these pieces. Even if it looks like I’ve just splattered some paint over some line work . . . I try to be very deliberate in my work.