MisFit Month – Roads Of Thought!

By Kevin Scott
July 25, 2005 - 19:34

Easy Cats :)

I hope you’ve been enjoying MisFit Month so far. We’ve looked at Shannon Chenoweth’s The Line. Alysha & Colin Mck’s Full Figure Porn. And now, under the looking glass is The Distance.

Stepping out of the shadows to take control of the streets of Chi, through stories that will grip the imagination are two young ladies, Tessana Nemenski & Kayla Tepps. Two Femmes Fatales who can capture your attention, on every level!

Compass To The Mind!


(1) Koncise : Tessana, so how’s life been treating you?

Tessana Nemenski: Pretty good. I'm writing a comic book what can I say besides that I am quite smitten with that?

(2) K: So what comics do you read?

TN: Oh, simple: Powers, Kabuki, Daredevil, Ultimates, Nightwing, New Avengers....the list could go on and on

(3) K: Are these where you get a lot of your inspiration?

TN: I read comics to read them, write about them or think, but not all of them would come under the 'inspirational' title. A lot of what I write is just my life twisted around and thrown into a blender or a random idea.

(4) K: So you’re the writer of The Distance, right?

TN: I am defiantly the writer. As Kayla can testify- I can't even draw a stick figure right.

Kayla Tepps: No kidding, one failed layout plan showed that.

(5) K: That sounds like footage for the TPB :)

So how do you getting into your writing frame of mind?

TN: It really depends on what kind of mood I am in. I can just sit there and think and think and think, and not get anywhere. Or I could be just taking a walk around my neighbourhood, and then boom idea pops into my head.
Usually, I grab a notebook, go out for some coffee and sit and write everything shorthand, and then tidy it up when I hit the good ol' computer.

(6) K: So life isn’t just an inspiration for you, but also a motivational tool?

TN: Yes and no. There are a few points in the overall story that are transparent veils to my life. The first three pages of issue one for example. But then you take a character like Anothy Callabrino and he is just the model for a bunch of sociological and communication theories.

(7) K: Looks like someone paid attention in class :)

When you were thinking bout the book, did you have an art style and artist in mind?

TN: Not necessarily. In the script I had vague references to what the characters should look like. There were a few notes that the panel should look like X or Y but I wasn't searching for the next big name so and so.

(8) K: So what was your plan for the art. Where you jus going to wait till you had an artist in place, then re-address it?

TN: Pretty much. When I was hunting around, for example, I knew I didn't want the book to have a superhero feel to it, or look like a manga

(9) K: How did Kayla come on board?

TN: I think I should let Kayla answer this one.

Kayla Tepps: I was at this local 24 hour Greek restaurant with a bunch of friends and Tessana happened to be my waitress that night.

TN: Fortunate for me, Unfortunate for them since I was in a terrible mood when they walked in.

KT: I hadn't seen her in awhile, and we started playing catch up. She told me she was in the hunt for an artist for a comic she was writing.

TN: Which happened to be the same one re-hauled two times since she had last seen me.

KT: So I said "ok, I’ll draw it" and she looks at me and goes "oh, shit I've known you for two years and I completely forgot you drew"

TN: Cut to a couple of weeks later, sitting in the same restaurant (and we have our own booth by this point) and we are sitting there for nine (yes NINE) hours straight while Kayla is helping me work out the kinks.

KT: Try like re-hauling the entire timeline.

TN: True. Then she threw this one idea at me for one of the characters- Hans Shiest. I was just completely blown away by it and told her that basically she was my Oeming, hence why she is co-creator.

KT: For that? That’s why you-

TN: Yes for that.

(10) K: Really sounds like you two have some chemistry going on.

Let me holla at Kayla for a second though.

So Kayla, how long have you been drawing for?

KT: Oh god. Since I was in Elementary school. I didn't really get my style to anywhere near viewable till early high school though. As Tessana can attest to, there are a few sketchbooks called the unmentionables. I pretend they don't exist most of the time.

(11) K: More TPB bonus material :)

Do you read comics yourself?

KT: Some of my favourites are Ceres, Kabuki, Rayearth, Ultimates, Astonishing X-men and Powers.

(12) K: Are they what inspire you?

KT: I read them to read them, but usually when I get into a funk, they are there to get me motivated to draw

(13) K: Do you have anything else you do for motivation?

KT: Everything! Life is really a motivation but I also call on my favourite movies to pull out my creative side, like The Boondock Saints.

TN: God. Every time we work together that movie is in the background. Why? Frankly it’s because we are both suckers for Irish accents..... I think. :)

(14) K: Top of da morning to ya ladies :)

So how would you describe your style?

KT: Crack happy modern manga with a superhero flair drawing from the realistic....which means style? I have a style?

TN: That's what I like about her work. It is a style...but not. If you look really hard at her layouts and some of her art you can see where her influences are coming from.

(15) K: Do you think this is a factor that sets your work apart from the pack?

KT: The lack of an individual style doesn’t set me apart, what sets me apart is how I use that lack of style. Also, that this proves the fact I have a long way to go before I can even come close to comparing myself to guys like David Mack, Michael Oeming or John Cassaday.

(16) K: One day though kid :)

Are you strictly pencils or do you use other delivery tools?

KT: Mostly pencils. Lately I've been playing with straight pens. Mostly when I'm bored at work. Although I have a great love of gel pens.

(17) K: Sorry bout this, but can you explain the difference between, straight and gel pens?

For the readers of course….not me lol

KT: Straight pens are things like Bic pens- something that you use everyday. They are regular pens. Gel pens have more of a liquid feel to them and they can give you more of a full line than a straight pen. Plus, gel pens got some nifty colors :)

(18) K: Thanks for that :)

Do you use references for people and buildings, etc?

KT: Definitely. For most female characters, especially if I'm really stuck, I’ll bust out a mirror and use myself. It helps when I'm going for a more realistic feel. I also have a folder of my favourite art as more of an inspiration type of reference.

(19) K: A mirror, that sounds nuts. Isn’t it hard to keep a feel for a pose in mind that way?

KT: Surprisingly no. I understand it sounds nuts and sometimes it is very difficult but [BUT. there is a but there is always a but- TN] sometimes if you want a realistic look there is no other choice.

(20) K: You should get Tessana to pose for you :)

So who are some of the artists in your folder?

KT: who isn’t in there? Everybody who I ever consider a good artist is in there. Wait, that’s not necessarily true, Tessana won’t let me cut up her copies of The Gift. [Damn straight! Get your own copies from Raven! – TN]

(21) K: OK, so lets get back to The Distance.

You mentioned that it’s gone through several re-shapes. What was it you didn’t think was working?

TN: Before Kayla came on board the story originally had a plot where Gina and Tommy never knew each other till the book started. Actually the story originally had NOTHING to do with what the book is now. I had the beginning and the end in my head but couldn't work the middle. Finally, in a craze sate for advice, Raven Gregory (the writer of The Gift) told me to scrap everything and start over, no matter how much I already worked on it. Eventually I did. I got issue one finished and had a rough plot line for the rest of the series. Then when Kayla and I had our nine hour pow-wow, I realized by her questions about the characters that we needed to get this plot line extremely detailed and tight.

KT: That's mostly because I'm a detail whore who asks crazy questions- "Is Shiest left handed or right handed?" Needless to say, it kind of made Tessana think about the full run so things I did now wouldn't contradict later. That and it was an easy way to keep Tessana out obnoxiously late.

TN: Actually it was questions like "Why does Thomas have this scar?" and "What if we did this with Gina's eyebrow ring?" The latter question somehow ended up with us discussing Gina's sexuality which created a full sub-plot starting around issue six.

(22) K: Sounds like your story lost its eating disorder.

Did the added depth increase the issue count of the series?

TN: Sort of. We originally had around 12 issues. Then we increased it to 15. Then I called Kayla and said, there is no way that I can get that story done in fifteen. I realized that the ending was getting rushed.

KT: The whole thing is that we didn’t want to rush this. We wanted to cover everything that we wanted to say in the story. As a reader I know what it feels like when a story is rushed-you feel cheated. I don’t ever want to cheat our readers.

TN: See why she is co-creator now?

(23) K: :)

OK, here’s something I’ve been wondering.

In saying that a story is going to be x amount of issues, couldn’t that be a constraint of a writer. Like, you feel you need to reach issue 20 (for example), even though it could have ended with issue 15.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just write until you’re empty of story?

TN: For me- no. I couldn’t do that. I’ve edited magazines, I have written speeches, and I have written stories, plays, and lectures and edited all those too. I couldn’t just write like that. I need to know the whole thing and say-ok this is the part of their lives I want to tell. This is what the readers need to know. They don’t need to know that Thomas had chocolate cake on his 16th birthday.

KT: Although we could tell a story about it. That is what we did in that nine hour session. We sat down and determined what we wanted to tell. To do this story in any less issues is impossible. If we go more, we go more.

TN: I think if we go more than 18 issues, it is because the readers have come back and said, we want to see such and such. Kayla and I got these lives mapped out in our heads. If the readers want to know about the chocolate cake we will tell them. Only if they want though.

(24) K: So do you draw up a timeline, once you’ve had your pow wow, to help keep your focus when you’re writing?

TN: That is exactly what we did. Part of the reason was because part of the story plays heavily into some historical dates. So we sat down and figured out everyone’s birthday, where they were and how old they were when those events happened.

KT: That also gave us an idea of how they would look. Gina and Tommy are going to dress a whole lot differently than Conway is because of their age and experiences. That’s something that we actually wanted to take into account before ever putting anything drawing wise on paper. That and if we hadn’t done the timeline you end up with Gina’s dad being about 14 or so when he enters the academy.

(25) K: So what can you tell us about the actual story itself?

TN: Nothing. No really though, The Distance is about so many things, the relationship between a father and his daughter. Its about cops, it’s about the mafia, it’s about two best friends.

KT: It’s a love story, its a mystery , its a drama. If you look closely you can see references to things already written or produced.

(26) K: So, are you kinda saying that this can be whatever the reader wants it to be?

TN: Definatly. For me, writing it was not only fun, but a release for some things rolling around in my head for years. That, and a great excuse to hang out with Kayla forever.

KT: Gotta agree on that. Yes the story has an overall tone, theme, and plot. If we laid it all out before you and said ‘well this is an action book’ then we need to write about action. Life is so much more than a breakdown of action, drama, and comedy. This book more than anything is about life.

(27) K: Are you trying to put any sort messages across to the reader within your work. Or are you against this type of thing?

TN: Messages! I have taken classes on messages in comic books. I think that is the neatest idea, especially in this day and age where a lot of society is always trying to find the message in something whether they realize it or not (look at the Lord of the Ring fans or Star Wars for example). There are a lot of messages I wrote into the story (there is one panel, for example that is my opinion on the Catholic School system), but what was worse was Kayla took that to the nth degree.

KT: I’m terrible I’d admit it. I have a fascination with symbolism. I love it, I live it. I think its one of the most amusing things in the world and I use it. That and I like to see Tessana’s reaction when I draw things into the corner of a panel hoping someone will catch it besides us. Besides which, what fun would it be if we didn’t put messages in it?

(28) K: So there’s a lot of Easter Eggs throughout the series?

TN: Easter eggs! Kayla and I decided to keep track of how many Swiss Army product references there are. There are some nods to the books we like, or creators, or musicians.

KT: And then there is our favourite saying for every time we realized me messed up or something went wrong.
[and everything that went wrong did. So we have been swearing more than Deena Pilgrim lately.Ha Ha. –TN]
Needless to say we lost track around seven hundred or so. I love hidden features personally. Most of the time I need them pointed out to me so being able to put them out there for others really makes me happy.

(29) K: So what are you hoping your voice will bring to comics?

TN: I’m just hoping that I can wake one person up. To borrow from Millar in Ultimates (it’s Thor’s line) :”I’m here to wake you all up again before man kind sleep walks their way into oblivion.” I Know someone is going to think that I’m Thor (or that I think I am) but frankly I am sick of seeing society (Americans in particular) just gulp down what the media feeds them, even wrong information. That and society (more importantly) has this stigma that if a major problem doesn’t affect them, it doesn’t exist.
This idea like- if my dad didn’t beat up my mom then other dad’s don’t beat up their wives. If I can have one person look at the book and go...wait a minute I didn’t realize that, then I will be happy.

KT: There is so much that we want to say but there is a chance that we can never say all of it.
No matter how much we actually say, there are going to be people who disagree, who ignore us, and will get mad at what we have to say. The people who argue with us- good, that shows that they have some interest, or at least we sparked them to think. The people who get mad at us- good, I don’t care if you are mad at me, but then I know that you at least care about something that is in front of your face. For every person that ignores us, well, we can’t help everybody. I can’t expect everybody to listen to what I or Tessana have to say.

(30) K: That’s real, its nice to see such conviction.

One thing I was wondering. How do you both view comics from a female’s prospective?

TN: I don’t even know where to start with that question. Comics are a puzzle to me that I am still trying to figure out. There are some great GREAT female characters in comics (Deena in Powers, Kabuki, Wasp in Ultimates and Wonder Woman for example) that are great role models, yet there is not a huge following behind them. With the exception of Deena and Kabuki they have skimpy clothes and bodies that even Barbie dolls couldn’t adhere too. The chicks are either the damsel in distress or the femme fatale, there is really no in-between. So that turns off a number of female readers. Yet, the big publishers can’t figure out why there are so many male fans. Hmm. I think most of the problem lies with the publishers, but I also blame a lot of retailers who either have stores that look like they sell porn , or go the other extreme in which they mark ‘girl friendly’ titles.

KT Oh god does that …argh. It annoys the living piss out of me.

TN Note: a) I’m a woman, not a girl and b) stop treating me like I am an idiot. What really stinks is that any females that does work in the industry, whether independent or not, are forced to adhere to this unwritten law that we have to make a book where the female (if any) is realistic. We did that with Gina, and god do we put that girl through hell physically, emotionally and mentally before she reacts to the story she is in. Yet, she looks like a chick in your class, or someone you work with.

KT: Tessana covered most of it. I just want to point out that a lot of times, the ‘good role model’ that is portrayed in comic books isn’t that good of a role model for a lot of people. I am not going to be someone’s housewife or cute little girlfriend, but I’m also not some ass kicking samurai- as much as I would like to be. Sometimes you just need to point out and tell a story about regular people and we tried to do that to some degree with Gina. I understand that regular people are not always the most interesting people to tell a story about, but sometimes you just have to listen to the story to find out was is really amazing about a regular person.

(31) K: That’s the one thing I can never understand. Companies are trying to bring the female demographic into comics. So they put things in a Manga style.

KT: Which is really funny if you know anything about Manga. There are just as many if not more Shonen (boy type manga) as there are Shojo (girl type manga) in existence. Manga is just a more flowing style of art to me. So drawing it in a manga style doesn’t make it a more feminine piece. But that’s just my two cents.

TN:: I know this is going upset someone. Kayla for years has had tried to get me officially ‘hooked’ into manga, but I can’t except for a few. Partly because the way that women are drawn- espically when you get to the more adult manga- its worse then American comics, but there is a HUGE HUGE HUGE female following in those books (even here in the states) so I think, at least with American comics it has to do with the marketing and the story lines that are deterring women away from them.

(32) K: Why don’t they start dressing females in proper clothes and depicting them in a decent manner?

You know that cats may label you both as male hating feminists, right.

What do you have to say to anyone with ignorance in their blood?

TN: See, they are not exactly wrong on that. I am a feminist. But I love men :) The thing is, feminist has this horrible stereotype to it. That is why I will not just walk up to some random stranger and go “hey my name is Tessana and I am feminist”. Some of the best feminist I know are actually guys, believe it or not. (I’m thinking about a few of my professors at the moment). I learned a lot from them. I am more of a low key feminist- Everyone no matter what they look like, what they believe in or what they want to sleep with should be treated equal.
Even if they come from Mars and have 3 heads with one eyeball apiece and polka dot skin. Until they upset me in some way- which is more like you would have to kill someone I care about- I will treat you nicely.

KT: That’s one way to put it Tessana. I don’t consider myself a feminist that much. And I definitely don’t hate men. I just have very strong ideas about how I should be treated, how everyone should be treated. Honestly if guys were treated the way I am, I’d be upset too, but they aren’t so we deal.

(33) K: On the flipside though, how do you feel about male characters in comics?

Y’know, all muscled up and chiselled like a Greek god.

TN: The exact same way I feel about the way females are portrayed. A lot of woman I know love Spiderman as oppose to Superman. Why? Probably because Peter looks, well normal.

KT: Peter to me, looks like one of the guys I went to high school with or who lived in my neighbourhood. I feel more comfortable with that image. I grew up watching wrestling as a kid and Superman always reminded me of a wrestler with a really good gimmick and a never ending storyline. Yeah I like a guy to look good but I’ll still pick the slightly wimpy or slightly overweight guy next door as compared to big buff and badass.

TN: That is really funny K. But you are so right. I’ve bought a number of my boyfriends home and nearly given my parents heartattacks. Piercings, tattoos, uber skinny, uber overweight. You name it. But never in my life have I seen a Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark walking down the street :)

(34) K: OK, we’ve covered many bases, but is there anything that you want to touch that we’ve missed?

TN: Pixie Sticks and Pocky are what Kayla needs to live one. I need coffee :) Governments Suck. Uh, Cops are cool. My eyes are brown. Kayla will die in the near future by mine hands :)

KT: Sure. Pink fluffy bunnies, religions that are taboo in society, and how Tessana’s gonna kill me before all this is over with. None of which we really have time for. Also keep your eyes open for other books coming out of the Misfits Studio in the coming months.

(35) K: And just so it’s clear in fans minds.

Where can they find The Distance issue #1 (and then the subsequent following issues)?

TN: You can definatly buy the book come August on the Misfits website ( or visit us at Wizard World Chicago.

KT: On the Misfits site we will also list other conventions we will be at, along on our forum that you can access from the website.

(36) K: And if anyone has a question for either of you, where can they find you?

TN: you can pm me on the Jinxworld Boards (murdock’s girl) on the Misfit Boards or drop me an email at

KT: Go ahead and drop me an email at I don’t guarantee that I’ll be able to respond right away but I’ll try to get to everything in due time. Or you can PM me on the Misfits Message Board.

(36) K: And ladies, would you give me the pleasure of stopping by, maybe halfway through the series and giving us an up-date on your experiences?

TN: Definatly. And you don't even have to wait for the halfway mark.

KT: [Editor’s note: I couldn’t get hold of Ms Tepps for answer hear and assume this is because (a) Ms Nemenski has beaten her to death with a sharpie, or (b) she’s chained to her drawing table. I’m sure though, she’d love to come back for an interview………….if not, I’ll print her diary :) ]

K: Well, is that it I hear you ask!?!

It is the final interview with the creative teams from MisFit Comics, but never fear, as next week MisFit Month will continue :)

So tune in for our final instalment, which will be previews of a couple (at least) of the studio’s books, to wet your appetite for Wizard World Chicago :)

But if you want to talk to the crew before then, you can always stop by the MisFit Comics Message Boards! and pop a question there.


Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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