Creator G. Pike takes the hotseat to talk about their queer fantasy/adventure comic Title Unrelated.
What’s your webcomic: Title Unrelated about?
Title Unrelated is about a family of queer characters who travel to a parallel world to search for their missing sister. In this other world, known to locals as Ambaia, they befriend two teens with psychic abilities and small band of political rebels. Along the way they begin to realize that the history of their family is actually linked to the history of Ambaia.
One feature of the story that bears mentioning is that Ambaian culture does not have binary gender roles.
Does Ambaian culture perceive gender differently? What noticeable differences are there in the ways people are treated?
I would say yes, they perceive it differently. If they could be said to have a concept of gender (as opposed to sex) it’s manifested more as an aspect of personality.
It’s considered very impolite to ask about someone’s biological sex. If anything, Ambaians could probably be considered “Cis-Nonbinary”, as what beauty/appearance standards there are tend to favor androgyny. In fact, physical sex is not seen as binary either, but more of a spectrum of individual variation. Since there’s no cultural mandate to “be fruitful and multiply” (birth control methods also exist), there’s less focus on reproductive function of individuals. They really don’t have any specific roles that are based solely on sex (the exception being jobs like pregnancy surrogates, who are, by necessity, biologically female).
Children are raised together without much differentiation. Baths and restrooms are unisex. What we would call “same-sex” relationships (and marriages) are extremely common. Plural and asexual partnerships are also accepted – in fact, it’s considered ideal for young children to have at least three “parents” of any combination of sexes. There are transsexual people in Ambaia, as aligning the body with one’s mental and spiritual needs is seen as a natural part of all-around health.
What psychic abilities do the characters possess? Is it considered commonplace to have them or are they considered special?
The types of abilities include things like physical or mental healing, dream-travel, understanding/communicating with non-human animals, precognition, telepathy, telekinesis (rare and usually weak), etc. Usually abilities are quite subtle. For instance it’s vanishingly rare to meet someone who can truly “read minds”, though you might encounter people who can sense whether a person is lying to them. These abilities are not entirely commonplace, but common enough that there are special schools for psychically-gifted kids. These are often located away from towns or cities, as there may occasionally be minor dangers posed by especially powerful and uncontrolled abilities, but accidents are rare, and more likely to be an annoyance than an actual problem. Abilities can be honed and made stronger through focused training. The most common ability is simply being able to channel electrical energy from one’s body through a conductive device (usually a staff or baton) and deal a shock to another human or animal. This skill is taught to many less-gifted children who grow up in the countryside, for defence against dangerous wildlife.
Wildlife! You love drawing wildlife, too, especially birds. What’s with all the birds?
I’ve loved wildlife since I was a small child. My grandfather sold animal feed to zoos so he had a lot of books about animals that I enjoyed looking at. I didn’t become a birdwatcher until about 2006, but I’ve been hooked on birds for over 10 years now. I’ve been birding all over the world, and I just love looking at and creating art of birds.
What’s your creative process?
My creative process… Well, it’s hard to really separate the creative parts of my life from any other part – I feel like it’s something that’s always happening. There’s a few phases I could break it down into I guess:
1) Ideas. Ideas happen anytime, and can be inspired by almost anything. Sometimes I brainstorm with people close to me. Ideas are a product of my mind processing stuff I’ve seen/heard/experienced/felt into something I want to express or create? Something I want to see in the world.
2) Composing. Traditionally I’ve always had to go for long walks in order to let my mind work on the details. A big chunk of “writing” for me is letting a scene play out like a movie in my mind. This also goes for visualizing art pieces.
3) Organizing. This is when I actually write stuff down. If it’s a story, I do outlines/spreadsheets. If it’s a picture, I do a rough sketch and find reference images.
4) Making The Thing. The hardest part!
5. Publishing. I rarely make stuff that I don’t eventually show to other people, so this step is actually something I think about during step 2!
Do you have much interaction with Fans? Do they influence the comic?
I interact with fans as much as I can, through disqus comments on my page, through patreon, and other social media, and at conventions! The ways in which fans influence the comic is pretty subtle, but sometimes somebody will ask a question that starts me thinking about a plot or world detail that I hadn’t thought about previously! I value the feedback I get from fellow creators, as well!
Which psychic power do you wish you had in real life?
Telekinesis! Because It seems the most useful [ability] for someone like me; I’m already pretty developed in terms of insight and problem solving, but often wish I had more hands to work with!
What’s the best way for fans to keep up-to-date with your comics and art?