Prism Comics Interviews Iron Circus Comics’ C. Spike Trotman
C. Spike Trotman Interview – Smut Peddler X and My Monster Girlfriend
By Rebecca Oliver Kaplan (she/he)
Iron Circus Comics’ Backerkit campaign for two exciting books – SMUT PEDDLER PRESENTS: MY MONSTER GIRLFRIEND and The Deluxe Reprint SMUT PEDDLER X: TEN YEARS OF IMPECCABLE PORNOGLIFICS – closes Wednesday, December 7, 2023 – https://www.backerkit.com/c/iron-circus-comics/smut-peddler-x-my-monster-girlfriend?ref=pr – You’ve still got time to get in on the funding and get these books on release!
Edited by women, made for everyone, erotica anthology Smut Peddler was first crowdfunded by independent publisher Iron Circus back in 2012 and again in 2014. Now ten years later, Iron Circus is crowdfunding a double-header with both a brand new and even bolder Smut Peddler and a deluxe tenth anniversary edition of the original 2012 Smut Peddler. Smut Peddler Presents: My Monster Girlfriend is the long-awaited companion to Iron Circus’ first full-color anthology project, My Monster Boyfriend, and features almost 300 pages of new stories, while Smut Peddler X: Ten Years of Impeccable Pornoglifics brings back the original Smut Peddler from 2012—featuring all the groundbreaking stories from the original anthology, as well as tons of extras including a foreword from Stoya, short essays from the original editors, and hidden treasures from the archives, all wrapped in a brand-new cover by superstar artist Claire Hummel.
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan of Prism Comics and The Beat interviewed Iron Circus founder and publisher, C. Spike Trotman*, on the two new sex-positive books and the nature of publishing LGBTQ comics today. We thank them both for their work and the interview.
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan – The anthology is for “literate smut” fans, meaning it’s “sex-positive, consent-driven erotica with an emphasis on strong characters and storytelling.” What is sex-positive erotica? What can people look for to identify literate smut?
C. Spike Trotman – Sex-positive erotica, as we define it, is pretty straight-forward stuff: Everyone involved in the scene depicted wants to be there, and the pleasure of everyone involved matters. When Iron Circus first began publishing volumes of Smut Peddler, finding a smutty comic that met that bar was… depressingly difficult.
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan – It’s the 10th anniversary of the first edition of Smut Peddler in 2012. What has changed in queer erotic comics during that time? How has the market changed during that time?
C. Spike Trotman – Oh, a LOT has changed, almost all of it for the better! For instance, we’re far from the only publishers of fun, sex-positive smut. There are zines, other anthologies, independent ventures, and they’re all crewed by amazing people and most are crowdfunded into existence. The detail I love best is the fact that no one asks, “Who’s the audience for this?” or says “No one wants this, it’ll never sell” anymore.
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan – On an anthology like this, how do you ensure that a diverse range of erotica is represented?
C. Spike Trotman – There’s a pretty involved editorial process, to ensure we get a good balance of stories in every volume. No one just shows up with pages we’ve never seen before on the deadline! We have to review concepts and pencils, and tell folks if their idea’s taken. For My Monster Girlfriend especially, we had to let the creators know that there could only be ONE Lady Dimitrescu-inspired story! Otherwise, we’d probably have a ton.
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan – How is queer erotica activism? What role do queer erotic comics play that may be unique as a medium?
C. Spike Trotman – Oh, I would never describe what we do as activism, that should be reserved for something much grander and more purposeful. But I feel the erotica Smut Peddler features does contribute in a meaningful way in the sense of representation. In a world that seems to more and more strongly emphasize lowest common denominators all the time—less color, fewer risks, fewer unique attributes— I’m proud to say Smut Peddler is determined to stay weird, stay niche, and appeal to people not necessarily used to being appealed to.
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan – Iron Circus is always ahead of the game regarding crowdfunding, so why Backerkit?
C. Spike Trotman – Simply put, Backerkit is a level-up; they’d have to be, really, for me to use a third-party site ever again, after what Kickstarter pulled. (And I assure you, the first thing I asked them was if they ever planned to work with blockchain/NFTs. Fool me once, etc. etc.) The add-on feature, the metrics, the marketing component; it feels like a solidly superior version of what Kickstarter has on offer, now; a service for people who have used Kickstarter enough to see the holes and weaknesses, and want something better.
*C. Spike Trotman was born in DC, raised in MD, and lives in IL. An artist and writer, she founded Iron Circus Comics in 2007, which has since grown to become the region’s largest comics publisher. Her notable work includes the webcomic “Templar, Arizona,” the Smut Peddler series of erotic comic anthologies, and Poorcraft, a graphic novel guide to frugal living. A Kickstarter early adopter, she pioneered the widely-adopted bonus model that’s since completely reshaped the pay system of the small press, jump-starting the current renaissance of alt-comics anthologies. Iron Circus is also the first comics publisher of note to fully incorporate crowdfunding into its business model, inventing one of the single most effective uses of new media in comics publishing today.
From Smut Peddler X