Stephanie Zuppo is a cartoonist, graphic designer, and educator originally from Philadelphia, PA, but currently living in Burlington, VT. They received their BFA in Illustration and Design at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia and an MFA in Comics at The Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont. They are an adjunct professor in the Game Arts and Animation major at Champlain College. Stephanie is currently focusing on teaching, making comics, and developing ways to make the comics industry a better place. They are the editor of The Ladybroad Ledger, VT's only free femme comics newspaper. They are also the co-creator of Conosaurus, a tool which helps creators and fans plan their convention season.
Besides printing and distributing their own work and the work of others, they have also appeared in several comic anthologies and publications.
Stephanie’s interview to Milk & Honey, as seen in Milk & Honey Comic Anthology Issue 1:
exert from Belchville, VT vol. 1 - “Chapter Six: Main Street"
interview asked by editor Giancarlo D’Alessandro (2016)
M&H: Belchville, VT is about strange things that start to happen in an innocent looking New England town. Before all the spooky happenings begin, Belchville’s colorful cast of characters are introduced and they certainly capture a lot of the personality of small town life. Did you experience this yourself moving to VT?
SZ: Definitely. Belchville is based off a lot of the small towns that I encountered in mid-southern Vermont. It was a total culture shock for me, since I has lived around a major city all my life. These placed were very small in comparison, yet the residents were from all over! I attended The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, VT, which brings in students from all over the world, but all over it seemed it was very disproportionately people who moved to VT for some reason.
M&H: Exactly! It all seemed so similar but then it got really eerie. What was the inspiration for when things started to not feel right?
SZ: There are two huge inspirations for Belchville’s horror side. One is the terrible parasites affecting moose here in New England, which are leading to a steep decline in their population. Look up brainworm and winter ticks! Absolutely disgusting and a horrible way for any animal to go. The second inspiration would be Stephen Bissette’s influence. He’s the king of horror comics and a life-long native of Vermont. I originally started Belchville as my mini-thesis, and Bissette was my advisor. I had a vague idea for a story about moose and feeling like an outsider in a new place, but he really helped me turn up that horror dial. I’m a huge fan of the X-files, Twin Peaks, and B-Movies too, so it felt really natural to write in that way!
M&H: You recently published the first six chapters in one volume successfully through Kickstarter. Any advice or thoughts on artists looking to get their work out the same way?
SZ: I used Kickstarter as a way to raise money to produce something that was already fully completed. Running the Kickstarter, printing the books, shipping rewards was a breeze because I had planned so well, that I didn't have to worry about completing or designing my book at the same time. As soon as I hit my funding goal, I gave the printer who I already lined up the OK to print my books. I would of printed it any way if it wasn’t funded, but it would have taken more time.I think it's important to have a finished product before you Kickstarter it, or as close as you possible can get. People hate delayed deadlines and canceled projects. I worked as hard as I could beforehand to prevent that. I also shipped the books as soon as they came in to avoid procrastination. :)
M&H: So what new works can we expect to see from you next?
SZ: I’m working on a lot of non-fiction and journalistic comics for a few different publications. I’ve also been working on some non-comic projects aimed at making the comics world a better place. Nothing has been released publicly yet, so I feel like I look like I haven’t been working on anything at all... but I swear I have been very busy!