This Artist Is Transforming The Idea Of Comic Books

Photo courtesy of Aidan Koch.

Meet the Artist: Aidan Koch

The following feature appears in the May 2016 issue of NYLON.

In Bushwick, Brooklyn, in the basement of a house on a corner lot with a real yard, illustrator Aidan Koch stands in her studio holding a cat named Turtle as she leafs through a set of drawings on a drafting table. We’re here to talk about her new collection of art comics, After Nothing Comes, which spans six years of work originally printed as limited-edition zines. Even the labels “comics” and “zines” are tricky here, so cleverly does Koch dance between the genres. Her characters and settings are soft in texture and illusory, each frame like a fragment of a dream only barely remembered. In one story, the narrative is clear: A pair of girls follow a doe into the woods and pretend to be Walt Whitman and Ernest Hemingway. In another, Koch renders abstract landscapes in watercolor ink and pencil—a tiny human figure is depicted only in smudges. Amid the organized chaos of her small workspace, Koch discusses how her comics come to fruition.

Click through the gallery to read the rest of the feature. 

Walk me through the process of physically making these zines. How do you choose your materials, like paper and binding?

They were just kind of made with whatever was available. I now, for the first time in my life, own a long-arm stapler. I only bought it this year. I always had sewing machines, so that was a really easy way to do it. The whole point of zines is that anyone can make them.

How much planning goes into the narrative of each zine before you start drawing?

I write as I’m putting the imagery together. Sometimes I get ahead of the drawings and I’ll start writing out a whole story, but I don’t have stories planned out too precisely. Having this game of going back and forth between what’s informing what is important, I think. For one zine, I just started drawing and following a character. I had an idea of what I wanted the last page to be, so it was just about seeing how I could get there in different ways.

Photo courtesy of Aidan Koch.

I noticed there are erasure marks in some of the frames of the comics, where you can actually see a word or drawing that once was there.

I don’t really sketch anything out [in advance]. Showing the hand and slight imperfections gives it more of a personal touch, some traces of humanity.

It also emphasizes the DIY nature of the art form.

I would just draw something and take it to the photocopier. Every copy would turn out different. One time when I was printing, I actually flipped a page in a bunch of the copies I did, but the story still made sense. I didn’t realize that I put it in the wrong place until after the fact. It worked perfectly.

Photo courtesy of Aidan Koch.

Are the comics autobiographical at all? I see that you have tattoos on your arms of hands that appear in the first zine in the collection.

Those are in my first comic, so it’s totally about me. My longer stories have been pretty straightforward fiction. There are always hints of [me] and I use myself as a model for a lot of poses. I think I naturally get in there somehow.

In addition to your comics, I heard you’ve also done some sculpture recently.

I think a lot of my content, characters, and aesthetic walk this line of being almost precious. There’s a lot of delicacy and beauty, but there is also always something there mentally or emotionally unsatisfied at being only that. My metal work really comes out of that. Much of it is based on or references ancient pieces that I’m really taken with, but then through my own lens and hand are re-rendered in a very raw way. I’ve mostly been making unique jewelry and hair pieces, but for a show coming up next month at Open Space in Baltimore, I’ve made seven brass candleholders that include people, butterflies, and snakes. I’d like to do more of the actual casting myself someday.

Photo courtesy of Aidan Koch.

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images

Which one, though?

Kim Kardashian is suing fast fashion retailer Missguided, claiming that the brand uses her image to spark interest in and sell its clothing. This lawsuit comes a few days after a theory, that she may be selling her own vintage clothing designs to fast fashion brands so that they can rip them off, made its rounds on the internet.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kardashian's attorney Michael Kump writes that "Missguided systematically uses the names and images of Kardashian and other celebrities to advertise and spark interest in its website and clothing." Other celebrities that the brand has tagged on its Instagram include Cardi B and Dua Lipa, along with the other members of the Kardashian-Jenner family.

Kump uses the example of the Yeezy dress that Kim posted to Instagram, which was ripped off by the brand within a couple of hours. "Recently, for example, after Kardashian posted a photo on Instagram of a dress that was made for her... Missguided quickly responded with its own Instagram post... boasting that it would be ripping off the design within 'a few days,'" Kump continues. "Missguided purposefully inserted Kardashian's Instagram username (@KimKardashian) into its post to capitalize on her celebrity status and social media following in promoting the sale of its upcoming product."

Kump also draws attention to the fact that the brand uses Kardashian's name so much that it may lead others to believe that she works with the brand, which, he wants to make clear, she does not: "Missguided's U.S. website has included entire pages that are devoted solely to the sale of clothing inspired by Kardashian, and on which Kardashian's name and likeness are prominently used without her permission to promote the products."

Some are noting that it's suspicious that Kardashian is not suing Fashion Nova, as well, since the brand most recently ripped off a vintage Mugler gown that Kardashian wore. Though it may be harder for Kardashian to make any claims since timestamps have revealed that the dress was made before Kardashian premiered the dress.



Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

He previously claimed to be a victim of a hate crime

According to reports, actor Jussie Smollett has been arrested by the Chicago Police Department. As CNN outlines, he's facing a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report. If found guilty, he could face up to three years in prison.

The Empire star previously claimed that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime on January 29. He alleged that two masked men attacked him, tied a noose around his neck, poured bleach on him, and yelled, "This is MAGA country!" Brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo were eventually arrested and brought in for questioning, during which news broke that one appeared on Empire and the other worked as Smollett's personal trainer. Now, according to both men and reports, it's being said that Smollett paid them to "orchestrate" the attack.

Smollett's attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, have issued a statement regarding their client's defense. "Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked," they told Deadline. "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."

If this is all true, this unfortunate turn of events should in no way take away from the fact that there is an abundant number of racially and sexually motivated attacks happening all of the time. They also still remain vastly underreported, so it's essential to listen to alleged victims, always.