About Bess - An Interview With Rachael Smith

Following on from the success of her debut graphic novel House Party in 2014 and this years The Rabbit, Rachael Smith is back with Bess, her new webcomic. We asked her some questions about Bess...

What is Bess?

Good starter question! Bess is a webcomic written and drawn by Rachael Smith (me!) which will update every Tuesday and Thursday here

Who is Bess?

This is a tricky one. I think the less spoilery answer is that she's a woman who Lyndsey meets. Once these two meet they start to change one another's lives. I think it's better if you get to know Bess through the comic rather than me telling you about her.

And what is Bess about?

It will largely follow two main female characters: Bess and Lyndsey. It's generally about feminism and ideals of beauty. It will heavily involve Japanese yokai and mythology too. Oh, and it's mainly set in a supermarket in Hull. It's a wild ride.

Can you tell us how the yokai element will play in the story or is it something we need to see unfold with the story?

Well, in the old yokai stories, yokai evolve right alongside humans - they change over time as the stories are retold. They inspire us to keep asking questions. I guess it's that nature that made me want to bring them into a modern environment. What would they question in this new world?  

Also, one common characteristic of yokai is their inbetween-ness. They are creatures who come out at dusk - half way between day and night. They live in places on the borders of towns, or in the mountains between villages, or bridges or tunnels. It's this idea of not fitting in that will endear Lyndsey to them - she is someone who feels like she doesn't fit in with anything, but in different ways.

As this is a twice weekly webcomic, do you have the story all planned out in advance with a definitive end or will it be an ongoing story that will grow organically as it's told? 

It's planned out to a certain point, but I haven't written an ending yet. One of the reasons I decided to do this story as a webcomic was because I didn't want to be bound by a page count right from the start. I wanted to be able to spend time with the characters and see them grow without worrying about print costs too much! I wanted to make a story that could just veer off to see what someone is doing and tell stories within stories. Organically is a good word for it actually!

Thank you Rachael.

The first 4 pages of Bess are online now, with a new page posted every Tuesday and Thursday.

You can find out more about Rachael at her website and see her at a conventions around the UK, including #TBCF2016