An Interview with Sophie Labelle, Assigned Male Comics

Sophie Labelle is one of the most well-known transgender comic artists out there. I was familiar with her work back when I first transitioned, and I’m pretty sure most trans people are. Her comics are generally about trans kids and adults spreading trans positivity, and Assigned Male, Sophie’s comic, has been shared all over the internet. Not only is she an accomplished artist and writer, but Sophie has been one of the biggest supporters of Fake Gamer Girl Comics! It’s been a really awesome year, and today, I’m glad I have the chance to do an email interview with Sophie!

How do you identify and what pronouns do you prefer?

I’m a trans girl, and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I don’t prefer them, they are my pronouns and they are mandatory.

Where were you living when you came out? How did your family handle the transition?
I never actually came out properly. I had a lot of independence after my mom left, when I was 9, and I could just buy whatever clothes I wanted and my dad wouldn’t care haha. I eventually moving with my mom and my stepfather a couple of years later, and my stepfather had some important issues with my gender expression. We fought a lot and he ended up kicking me out of his house, fun times!

Do you have any trans role models?
Of course, several! I think I was deeply influenced by Gabrielle Bouchard, a trans activist in Montreal and current president of the Fédération des Femmes du Québec (Women Federation of Quebec, in Canada). Janet Mock also influenced me when I started Assigned Male.

What kind of art are you interested in making at the moment?
Comics, of course. I’ve also been writing a lot lately, after a French Canadian approached me to publish a youth novel series based on my comics, which is a fantastic opportunity for me to explore my characters’ personalities.

Oh, and I do subversive cross-stitching as a hobby.

Do you have a certain moment that made you realize you wanted to come out or inspired you?

I saw a documentary about a trans woman, when I was 9. That really stuck with me, even tho I remember it being terrible and objectifying.

What kind of media are you enjoying? (video games, movies, music, etc)
I never didn’t like musicals. That’s most of what I listen to. I’m a huge musical nerd. My all-time favourites are Les Misérables, Little Shop of Horror, Hamilton, Notre Dame de Paris, Oliver and Billy Elliot.

What kind of comics do you read? Any graphic novels you’d recommend?
Lately, I enjoyed Pantheon, Lumberjanes and One Year Out.

Is there a dream project you’d like to do if time and funding wasn’t an issue?
Writing a play or a musical!

What are you excited about in 2018?
A new novel in english about Assigned Male’s characters! Also, a United States tour in the fall. It will be my first full-length US tour since I started giving talks, and I’m very excited about it.

How is your community in the city you live in?
There’s lots of drama, lots of people who won’t talk to each other, lots of clashes between different groups. The usual, I guess. Also, Montreal’s Pride logo is a bar code and incorporates TD bank’s logo, an openly transphobic bank, which I think says a lot about the organization.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Night shifts at a “dépanneur”, a kind of corner stores that are popular in Quebec. One of the employees was murdered by a someone who intended to rob the store (there was 35$ in the cash register). We kept a baseball bat behind the counter, and I actually had to use it.

What’s the best job you’ve had?

beside cartoonist? I worked as a seamstress in a fashion workshop from when I was 16 to 19. I loved it and kind of miss it.

Is there any advice you’d give other trans artists that are just starting out?
The famous Morgan M. Page rule: don’t publicly attack other trans women. The rest of the world is already busy doing it.

You’ve received a lot of praise and acclaim over the years and it’s really inspiring. You’ve also received more hate than you’ve deserved. How do you handle these criticisms? Do you have methods of taking care of your mental health?

Oh, I take naps. Lots of naps. They are the best.

I also let my harassers inspire me. They say the darnest things! I also save screenshots of everything on a file on my computer to be able to use it at will.

I mean, there’s harassment and criticism. Sending me death threats and stalking me aren’t a criticism.

(Good point, it’s really not a criticism if it’s just intended to be harmful or threatening, obviously.)

You’ve been writing comics about your partner lately. (I’m assuming, I could be wrong). Can you talk a bit about your relationship with your partner? I think it’s always good for others to hear about healthy relationships from trans folk.

Uh? No I didn’t. I wrote maybe 3 or 4 autobiographical comics. All the rest is fiction!

I mostly dated cis guys in my life. They were all really wonderful. My longest relationship was 3 years long, when I was a teenager. I think we brought a lot to each other!

Do you do comics full-time now? If so, what does a work day look like for you?
Well, let’s say I do comic-related works, since I also give a lot of talks because of it, as well as a lot of writing. I’m also a workaholic : I can work for 12, 13 hours a day. That’s what happens when your main hobby becomes your job I guess!

What is your setup for making comics? What programs do you use?
I use a MobileStudio Pro tablet by Wacom. It’s a new one that I got recently, but I miss my old Wacom Companion 2, which was discontinued. I use Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop CS.

You’re touring the U.S this year! Is there a city or place you really want to visit?
I’m excited about visiting the South! I think it’s important to give these public talks in areas where they are the most needed.

What is the one thing you’d want if you had the money? (piece of gear, computer, tv, idk, a leather jacket)
A boat. And also pay off my student loan.

Any links for your art? Anything else you’d like to share?
facebook.com/assignedmale and assignedmale.tumblr.com!

Thanks again for doing the interview, Sophie!

(If you are a non-cis person that makes music, art, comics, lets play streams, etc, then email me your basic info and links to: fggcomic@gmail.com and we can set up an interview.) 

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