Fresh from C2E2, Comic Book Yeti contributor Alex Breen corresponded on the convention floor with Minerva Fox, writer/artist of the fan comics Heavy Metal Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon Deliverance and artist of Just Us: Clementine, to discuss her approach to creating fan comics and the influence of Sailor Moon and Akira on her creativity.
NOTE: This interview was conducted with Minverva during last year's C2E2 on 8/05/22. Since the time of this interview, Just Us: Clementine is now available through Ko-Fi, Big Hype 2 is out now,the R.A.M. Story mentioned is on hold until further notice, and Act 2 of Sailor Moon Deliverance is currently in production.
COMIC BOOK YETI: I am here with Minerva Fox, the writer and artist of Heavy Metal Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon Deliverance, Just Us: Clementine, and a project from Big Hype 2 that you mentioned, but I don't know the title of.
MINERVA FOX: Oh, that's called R.A.M.
MF: Yeah. Random Access Memory.
CBY: Oh, that sounds amazing.
MF: That's all Frankee, the writer. That's all Frankee White's idea. I'm just making the pretty pictures.
CBY: Man, I'm hyped to read that already. Frankee's awesome.
MF: Yes, he is.
CBY: Okay. Well, thank you for joining me, Minerva. This is something I'm asking everyone as a baseline question, just because I'm always curious. What would you say is your comic book origin story as a creator?
MF: Little Minerva back in '92, I want to... No, '89, was watching The Little Mermaid, Disney's version. For some reason, I didn't like the ending. I did not like the conflict between Ursula, Ariel, and Prince Eric. So I drew them having their resolution without any conflict. That's my earliest memory of drawing something for myself. Second one, my next origin story is watching Akira as a 10-year-old kid, watching an R-rated movie going, "What the fuck is going on?"
Then watching Akira and going, "Holy crap, it's a comic?" Reading that, and then branching off to all of Katsuhiro Otomo's work, going, "Oh my God, this is amazing." Started tracing over that stuff. And it was like, "Oh, yeah, I can totally make stories." I make stories.
CBY: That's awesome. I couldn't imagine watching Akira as a kid. Like, I finally watched it last year during the pandemic.
"...I love doing illustration. I love doing still pics, but the story behind the picture is what gets me."
MF: Holy shit, man.
CBY: And I was like, "Man, if I was nine years old, with the arm animation, that would've messed me up."
MF: It did. Yes... it did.
CBY: Oh geez. So from the PDF provided, I'm going to start with Just Us: Clementine. I really dug how intimate that felt and just like it really... Having the color dimension helped in comparison to the Sailor Moon series.
MF: With black and white?
CBY: Yeah, absolutely. But I was curious, what inspired that story?
MF: Well, that is written by Blake Donaldson. I met him at a drink & draw basically, during the pandemic online, a group called Shidrago, and I was drawing Sailor Moon stuff because I can't seem to not do that. And he was very interested, and we got to talking. He threw me his pitch and it was great. He wanted something that was really coming of age, someone coming to realize who they are, what they can be, what their potential is, and escaping the trauma of the past. And everyone can relate to that in some level, shape, or form. I definitely did. And during the pandemic, I also learned a lot of things about myself, even at this point in time of my life. It was something very relatable and I felt that I wanted to do this with Blake.
CBY: Excellent. And based on the PDF you gave me, is this part of a webcomic or how is this being released?
MF: Oh, this is being very, just as he goes. He did want to do it as a webcomic. I think he's releasing it as a webcomic, and then will eventually take it to print, if and when he's able to get the funds together for printing. He's growing as a writer, and I'm actually seeing it from script to script because the first issue was two years ago. And then I did the third issue last year and I was like, "Oh, okay, this is cute."He's learning from me and I'm learning from him, and we're all growing together.
CBY: Yeah, it's the best part of a collaboration.
MF: It's addictive.
CBY: It absolutely is. So from a storytelling perspective, what's your creative process like, from when you're just an artist and then when you're both writing and drawing it?
MF: Oh geez. I always start with a very... It's always been a very broad idea. I have a lot of ideas and it's a matter of picking the one that will naturally sharpen as I think more about it. And I still have a lot of those sharpened ideas. And then coming down to, I would rather have it written out, take it physically out of my brain, take pen to paper, or type it up in Google Docs, like a very basic outline and see if as I think about it more, do the plot points work? Do the character themes work? Or is it all just falling apart and do I have to revamp it? So I always started from a writing perspective and the art actually kind of comes second because actually Heavy Metal Sailor Moon kind of started just shooting from the hip. I just started drawing and then was like, "Okay, I got to reign this in somehow." And that was a whole learning experience, reigning that in, into a sharper painting.
CBY: Excellent. So we mentioned a little bit about Big Hype 2, and your story with Frankee White. What's that like working alongside him? He's got to have so many crazy ideas.
MF: He has thrown several ideas at me, but RAM was specifically targeted toward me, if I remember correctly, because the protagonist is a Filipino woman, and it's a future dystopia, generic... Not a generic dystopia. There's a very specific thing, but I don't want to talk about it right now.
CBY: No worries.
MF: But the fact that he targeted it for me and it felt great. I've read Broken Bear. I've read Eat My Flesh, Drink My Blood and I just love how he makes characters make just the worst mistakes ever and I love seeing them fumble and figure out what to do. I like character driven stuff. Can you tell?
CBY: Absolutely. So obviously, you've done a lot of Sailor Moon comics. And I was kind of saving it for this tail end here. So how did you first connect with Sailor Moon?
MF: Eighth grade. DIC dub! Watched it. I saw an eighth grader turning into a magical superhero, kicking ass, monster of the week, very colorful. She finds her love. She beats the baddies, each and every season. Then comes the second season, she finds out she has a kid and everything. There's a whole lot more. And then I actually watch through the credits and realize like, "Holy crap, it's a manga? What the fuck's a manga?" I looked that up on the AOL internet. They're like, "Oh, it's a comic." And my mom and dad were very supportive of that. They found it, they got it to me, I read it and the rest is God damn history. It's my gateway drug. I watched Akira before Sailor Moon, but Sailor Moon was a thing that I just latched onto.
CBY: Makes sense. For that generation, like Akira, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, those were very common gateways for the west.
MF: Oh my gosh, yeah! Ronin Warriors, Speed "freaking" Racer on MTV right after Beavis and Butt-Head? Yeah, I would watch that!
CBY: Side note, I feel like I just turned into dust when you said AOL internet. I just got snapped out of this interview when you brought that up.
MF: I will twist a knife if you want me to?
CBY: (Laughs) No, I am good. So how would you describe Heavy Metal Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Deliverance to people?
MF: Okay. So they are separate stories. Heavy Metal Sailor Moon is my "Elseworlds" or my "What If". Sailor Saturn was the leader and it is just flipping the idea of the Senshi of love and justice, not being in the picture and the Senshi of death and rebirth, being the leader. So I wanted to be dark and gritty about it. So I went Zach Snyder on it. So why not?
CBY: I could feel that on that one.
MF: Yeah. And Sailor Moon Deliverance is me going Rogue One in the Sailor Moon universe. It explains, not a plot hole, but an unexplained part of the universe of how Neo-Queen Serenity becomes who she is. That leads up to the reason why the Black Moon Clan decides to go decides to rebel against Neo-Queen Serenity and then sends Chibiusa back in time... (Laughs)
Yeah. So I'm Rogue One-ing it.
CBY: So what was it that first made you decide to jump into making fan comics then?
MF: Because I feel like I don't like writing and I like drawing, but I don't want to just draw a picture. Yes, a picture can explain a thousand words, but I also want to put the before what happened and then after what happened, et cetera, et cetera, until they're like, "Oh, hey, it's a comic. It is 100% my creative expression. I love doing illustration. I love doing still pics, but the story behind the picture is what gets me.
CBY: Would you say that it's gratifying for you to be playing around with characters that obviously have influenced a lot of your life?
MF: Yeah, it does. Fan fiction is great, man.
CBY: So what is it that fans of Heavy Metal Sailor Moon can expect from Sailor Moon Deliverance?
MF: It is still much more realistic than Sailor Moon is in the fact of how they fight, what occurs after the fight, and the self-care afterward if there is any self-care, and the consequences of what happens after that.
CBY: Excellent. And this one will be maybe a little challenging, but I'd like to ask you.
MF: Oh, damn it.
CBY: So, if you could give one piece of advice to aspiring creators, whether it's writers, artists, whoever, what one piece of advice would you give them?
MF: Keep doing it. Baby steps at a time, because the more baby steps you take, when you finally look back, you'll see how far you've come.
CBY: Nailed it.
CBY: Okay. Where can people support your comics outside of the convention circuit?
MF: Okay. So everyone can see me on the social medias. My handle is @bluetroller. That's where you can find me on Twitch, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok? Yeah. And, nope, not YouTube. YouTube is Minerva Fox or something like that. But you can also find me on my website at artbyminervafox.com. And yeah, that's where you can find me, guys.
CBY: And apparently, you're the voice of the intro and outro of The Yeti Podcast. Yes, I did not forget that. I literally had to mention that. (Laughs)
MF: (Laughs) Damn straight. Yeah. You can thank Grant Stoye of Into the Comics Cave for that because it's like, "Can someone record this for me? I don't like my voice." Like, "Hey, I can do it. Let me do it." And I did it. And now it's history.
CBY: Yeah. I just couldn't help myself. Minerva, thank you so much for your time.
MF: Thank you.