this black feminist cartoonist is up to big things and crowdfunding for her education
August 10, 2018
American-born, Paris raised cartoonist Calyn Pickens Rich feels like our little art sister the way we keeping stanning her here at AFROPUNK. Pickens Rich is the creator of the world of ‘Dill Comics’, all stemming from its title character Dill. Dill Comics has grown and expanded, branching off into different Dill’s while also including ‘Pwatt Institute Comic’, inspired by her time as Pratt Institute student. We first featured Pickens Rich in 2014 where she introduced herself to us a “young Paris-dwelling-afro-wearing-temporary-tattoo-sporting full-time artist, part-time mad scientist and occasional technical captain.” Since then, she’s only gotten cooler and the cartoonist has unveiled more characters and grown the world’s in which they reside.
‘Dining with Dana’ is the fat bat goth heroine of our dreams that Pickens Rich created at the age of 14 out of her own need for an unapologetically black and round role model. Amen girl. Dana has found her way onto the AFROPUNK website and was then featured in For Harriet and Black Girl Nerds. Dana has even collaborated with our own Michaela Angela Davis and plus size yoga guru Jessamyn Stanley. Essentially, Dana girl is booked and BUSY!
Pickens Rich is doing the damn thing and has been doing it consistently but, like many white-male saturated industries, there are often barriers to entry and our girl has experienced quite a few of them. When Pickens Rich first blew up after her feature in 2014, she received unexpected backlash. Pickens Rich mentions the experience stating, “a lot of male readers began to question my credibility, suggesting that appearance alone had gotten me the piece. As they went on to research my background and personal life, my first exposure to a reality I hadn’t been familiar with before was prompted. Following this “dill”emma, there were multiple occasions where readers assumed I was both white and male.” The presence of Black women in the cartoonist world is drastically low. The expectation for the demographic of cartoonists is painfully clear and it stays that way because that world is expensive to get into, even for bright stars like Calyn.
Pickens Rich has a Go Fund Me going to help keep her at the Pratt Institute so she can graduate and show the world what she is really made of. We lose so many vital voices because funds aren’t readily available for those on the fringes of industry – namely people of color. This cartoonist has proven herself to be a rising star time and again, and honestly, who would want to live in a world without goth fit bat Queen Dana? Not me!
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