An avid reader of comics and a fan of most things nerd, Carly Berkowitz follows the local and indie comics scene regularly. She is also an undercover superhero.
Mouna Toure is the latest in a series of creators we have featured in our ComiConverse Tradecraft section. Here, our own Carly Berkowity chats with Ms. Toure about her latest work DEREctions.
With a fun, friendly art style and an anime inspired twist, Mouna Toure creates cute short story comics that have a tendency to hearken readers back to their weeaboo days. Her stories range from a short, queer, romantic westerns, to more personal subjects, but her longest effort to date is a semi-educational comic explaining common Japanese romance tropes – entitled DEREctions.
“I would say that my art is really cute – I really enjoy the adorable – I also would describe it as fun,” said Toure, explaining her style and work. “I try to appeal to female audiences because I want the world of comics to be safe and enjoyable for women, because of kind of that ‘boys club’ mentality that I’ve gotten from comic communities at times.”
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Being a visual learner herself, Toure shares her stories with the world in a way that she would absorb them best were she to be the audience. “Everything I take in, I take it in best through visual mediums, whether it’s cartoons or illustration,” said Toure. “Comics seemed like the perfect medium for me to take in information and for me to read stories.” She also credits media from her childhood such as cartoons like Sailor Moon, and Dragonball Z, as well as comics like Archie and Sonic the Hedgehog as a source of inspiration for her work.
Sailor Moon in particular proved to be a big influence on both Toure and her art. “When I was little and I heard the Sailor Moon theme song – ‘fighting evil by moonlight, never running from a real fight’ – it helped me to overcome a lot of fears I had,” said Toure. She explained that Sailor Moon as a show embraced femininity of all types, and sent the message that no matter how “girly” or “not girly” you were, you could be both strong and feminine regardless. “I didn’t appreciate it as much at the time, but looking back it’s like, wow, that’s something I really needed.”
Toure also suffers from A.D.D., which prevents her from focusing on media that is not visually compelling enough to hold her attention. “Comics help keep me really engaged, so I want to be able to make stories that people have fun with and people can possibly learn something from,” she explained.
Toure both writes and creates the art for her comics, but usually runs the stories by her friend Lindsay Brents to help with clarity and consistency. For Toure, writing is a stream of consciousness process, and Brents, in turn, helps to ground her.
The first comic Toure ever completed (entitled Believe) was an autobiographical story about Toure’s own experience writing comics. It was created for the Dirty Diamonds comic anthology under the theme of ‘comics.’ Toure expressed that she put her whole self into the comic, making the story a personal one as well as a milestone.
“What I want people to sort of get out of that is that when you make content – whether it’s comics or writing or anything like that – you just kind of have to start,” said Toure. “Whether it’s writing a script or doing concept art you won’t have anything unless you start.”
Despite having no long form comics written to date, Toure has plans on the horizon for another story, this one a serialized mix of long form and short strip comics. Once again touching on anime-style roots, Toure plans to create a comic about elements from the periodic table, personified. The comic takes place after the humanity has been mysteriously destroyed, leaving only the characters of Metal and Non-Metal to rebuild the world from the ground up. In need of help, Metal and Non-Metal “summon” the other elements from their base materials. “For each element character, their personalities are based on what the element is used for, or how the element actually reacts in scientific terms,” explained Toure. “For example, Chlorine is kind of obsessed with cleaning things – he carries around a spray bottle, wears a lab coat and goggles – and likes swimming in his spare time.”
When this new project gets off the ground it, like all of Toure’s other art, will be posted on her Tumblr and Facebook pages, with updates posted on her Twitter as well. Toure’s work is also available on her online shop, and she has tabled at Small Press Expo twice, with hopes of continuing that in the future.
Note: This article also appears on the author’s personal blog, which can be accessed here.
Carly Berkowitz is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow her on Twitter: @CaptianComic