K. Lynn Smith is an artist and designer from the Mid-Michigan area. K. Lynn found her start in the comic book world as a cartoonist for her university newspaper. In 2006, her artwork won the Michigan Press Award, as well as the Helen Victoria Haynes World Peace Cartoon Contest. For the past six years, she’s published the webcomic Plume; a western adventure featuring Vesper Grey and her supernatural guardian Corrick. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, the book was published by Devil’s Due Entertainment.
Bleeding Cool: You recently finished the second to last chapter of Plume and are now on a small hiatus before dropping the final chapter. The thing I love most about your protagonist Vesper Grey is how she is not your stereotypical comic book female. She’s not showing off her body. She’s not a damsel in distress. She actually releases the man tasked with protecting her, because Vesper doesn’t want to be in that role. Was this your intention from the beginning? Did you set out to write Vesper this way or did it push its way to the surface during the writing process?
K. Lynn Smith: I thought it was extremely important to have a female lead who wasn’t sexualized. Someone who was gritty and bullheaded; compassionate but flawed. We need more well-rounded characters; not well-rounded chests. Sure, the strong female lead is gaining more momentum and that’s great, but too many of these women are ‘sexy first, strength later,’ so I wanted to steer clear of that. Vesper definitely wrote herself. The moment when she released Corrick from protecting her came much later in the writing process. As the characters develop more, you get a sense of what they would or wouldn’t do in a situation. Vesper definitely wouldn’t want someone enslaved to her.
BC: Strong female leads, as you said, are gaining more momentum and have been for some time. Are there any female characters, leading or otherwise, from other books, comics, television or movies that heavily influenced your choices with character direction?
KLS: Katara from Avatar: the Last Airbender definitely had some influence, along with Bonnie from Red Dead Redemption, both of whom were strong and independent people. I’m also a huge fan of Parks and Rec, which was a show that could really write strong and witty women. Jokes were never made at their expense for a change; each female character was smart and quick. They got shit done!
BC: I think that really translates into your book as well. Vesper isn’t the only strong female. Tegan arrives and commands every page she’s on. I also really appreciate how you balance her profession while still keeping the book pretty kid friendly. I love that a woman who clearly works in a brothel isn’t reduced to that profession, instead using her knowledge to help the team and further the story.
KLS: Thank you! I definitely did not want her to be a throw-away character. She had to bring her own strengths to the table, as any good character should.
BC: Plume has been a webcomic since March, 2011. You made the decision to take it to print, launching a very successful Kickstarter campaign which lead to your collaboration with Devil’s Due, who ultimately published the book. But even after all that, Plume is still available completely for free on your website. What led to the decision to continue publishing the webcomic for free?
KLS: Plume started as a webcomic and it’ll end as a webcomic. Taking it off the website would’ve seemed greedy. Plus, when people spend the money on something they can get for free, that’s the biggest compliment out there! I am massively grateful to them too.
BC: Aside from your own work, how do you pick what comics you’re going to read? Is there anything in particular you look for when deciding to give a new comic a try?
KLS: Compelling characters! Sure, the plot needs to be good, but if it’s not being driven by an interesting character, then I’ll probably move on.
BC: With the conclusion of the Plume storyline only a few months away, what’s next for K.Lynn Smith?
KLS: I have a few projects in the works, one being another webcomic, which will be somewhat of a ‘day in the life’ type of story with a twist. The characters are fictional, but the places they visit will be real, and will be based off the traveling I’ll be doing all next year. It may or may not involve a renovated school bus.
You can read all of PLUME for free at www.plumecomic.com or follow K.Lynn Smith on social media: