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No Satanic Porn: Jennie Breeden of The Devil’s Panties

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We happen to be big fans of webcomics here. And our favorite happens to be The Devil’s Panties by Jennie Breeden. She was gracious enough to agree to be our first interview. After we got done with our fanboy squeeing, we asked her about drawing, fans and blowing kilts.

Windy City Banner – First question, did you ever think you’d be where you are with your comic when you first started?

Jennie Breeden – Not at all. I started it as a way to keep active art wise, while working those temporary after college jobs. I kept seeing friends graduate and get a job to pay off student loans and then never go back to art. I saw a daily online comic as a way to have an incentive to keep drawing while I looked for a “real” comic book job. It wasn’t until I started getting large ($60 is huge for a college student) donations that I realized there might be some monetary compensation in this webcomic gig. I started the comic in 2001 and as far as I knew, no one was making a living wage doing webcomics.

WCB – Are surprised at the following you have for the Devil’s Panties? Especially since as of this past September, you’ve been doing it for ten years?

Jennie – I don’t think that I’ll ever fully comprehend the size of online readership. I hope I never do because I might run in fear of the idea of so many people seeing my art. It’s all just numbers on a screen until an actual physical person walks up to you and says they read your comic. I’m always floored by that. “But I don’t know you, why would you be interested in reading my work?” I hope that I will always get that bizarre thrill when I meet someone who is familiar with my comic strip.
I try not to think about how long I’ve been doing the comic. It only feels like two or three years and then I’ll have a college graduate say they started reading my stuff in middle school.

More after the jump!


WCB – You’ve gotten a devoted following. Is it surprising to see people having the same fanboy and fangirl reactions to you that you do to your idols?
Jennie – Since I’ve felt that excitement at seeing the person who create something that I read and love, I always get giddy when I see that I’ve inspired the same hyperactive flailing in others. I end up bouncing along with readers and I have to calm myself down as well as them so that we are able to communicate rationally.

WCB – You recently showed your engagement to Obby in your strip (and congratulations on that). Were you surprised at the fan reaction both when it actually happened and in the strip?

Just FYI, she said yes.

Jennie – I was a bit distracted at the time. Obby surprised the hell out of me and I think I was flipping out right along with everyone else. Once I came down from the high about a week later we watched the many recordings of the event (he proposed at the end of my Kilt Blowing at Dragon Con) and were amazed at the level of noise that the crowed was able to produce. I heard the same excitement and glee in the peoples recorded voices that I felt myself.

WCB – You’ve met your idols like Tamora Pierce and they post comments on your website. Does that ever stop being surreal?

Jennie – You have no idea. My mother has pointed out to me that this is the pinnacle of success. When the people who created the stories that shaped your childhood admire your own work… there are no words.

Tamora Pierce said that when she was a little girl there were not very many stories with strong female characters for her to read. She said that she started writing strong female stories so that little girls would read them and then grow up to write their own stories so that Tamora Pierce would have something to read. Because of her and Wendi Pini of Elf Quest, I knew that I could do whatever I wanted in life even if it wasn’t a “girl” thing to do. The Alanna books taught me that I may have to work twice as hard to do it, but I shouldn’t let anything stand in the way of what I want.

WCB – There’s a few people we haven’t seen in the comic in a long time, like Darcy and Steph. Do you still keep in touch with them?

Jennie – The thing about having an autobiographic comic is that life doesn’t always follow a clean plot line. Sometimes people move away or loose touch and it doesn’t really fit into a clear narrative. I do still talk with Steph, but she lives on the other side of town, so we don’t hang out as much now that we’re not housemates. Sometimes life happens.

WCB – I have to ask this. How did the kilt blowing at DragonCon get started?

Jennie – I think that it was actually suggested by one of the women who worked at the gaming place that I was interning at. They took me to my first Dragon Con. I think we were talking about doing a Pin Up Calendar of hot men of comics. We were coming up with all of these classic pin up girl poses that we could have the guys do. At some point someone suggested setting up a Marilyn Monroe pose with a guy in a kilt. This was Dragon Con. There’s tons of guys in kilts around. I started doing comic strips about this idea but it wasn’t until about three years later that I went ahead and got a small electric “hard surface blower” (not strong enough to actually blow leaves) and approached my first kilted man. It all went down hill from there.

WCB – Did you ever think it would grow into the madhouse it is? And how do you get the guys to join? Appeal to egos?

Jennie – I have no control over the kilt blowing. Originally, I’d walk up to guys and ask to blow them… The next year we just told everyone that we’d be in the lobby and about thirty guys would show up. Now we reserve a convention room and have to cap it each night at fifty guys. The men in their kilts seem to have a good time standing in front of over three hundred screaming women. The women seem to have a good time cat calling the guys. So far, with a good bouncer, things have gone pretty well.

WCB – I was thrilled to find some of your books at local shops. Any chance you’ll get to Chicago in the next year?

Jennie – I love doing conventions but my ability to attend is mostly monetarily based. It can cost me between two hundred and over a thousand dollars to get to a convention. For the conventions that are farther out of Atlanta than I can commute to, I usually need assistance with transportation and housing. I’d love to do all of the conventions around the world, but for most of them I need help. I haven’t been able to get up to Chicago in a while because of the expense of gas and hotel rates. I do plan on going to Chicago again at some point, but it’s not on the schedule for this year due to timing and finances. I tell everyone that I’ll come to their show if I’m available that weekend and if hotel and transportation are provided. Conventions are fun, but the bank insists on getting their mortgage payment, like, every month.

A HUGE thank you to Jennie for agreeing to the interview. We also reccomend you head over to her site and buy as much merchandise as you can and to check out her other work at Customers Suck, Geebas on Parade and Vampire Rave.

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