SBCF 2023 Interview: Cam McCafferty

Throughout the month of October, the Cartoonist Cooperative will be sharing interviews with members of the Co-op who have a new comic available at the ShortBox Comics Fair 2023

NOTE: The Cartoonist Cooperative is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way formally connected with ShortBox.

Cartoonist Cooperative: We’d love it if you could introduce yourself and tell us about your background in comics. 

Cam McCafferty: My name is Cam McCafferty! I am a genderfluid, Asian-American comic artist and zine maker. My work has been described as “sometimes silly, sometimes deeply touching.” I’m the creator of the webcomic Mia the Magic Knight and zines like Prayer Blanket, Very Specific Daydreams and Fantasies, and Business Bear. Baptism in the Mud is my longest finished work yet!

CC: Tell us more about your new comic!

CM: Baptism in the Mud is a 62-page comic about a magical, living doll named Em who falls in love with a human named Truly. Em grapples with a discomfort in their body, as well as a feeling of being at odds with the way in which Truly desires them. I’d describe it as gothic, queer, and cathartic! If the idea of uncomfortable lesbian doll sex interests you at all, you should read it. If you’re a people pleaser, ex-Catholic gay, or have ever been fetishized by a romantic partner, you should read it!

CC: What are some early experiences as a cartoonist that shaped you or your process?

CM: The very first comics I made were Young Justice fan comics that I posted on Tumblr in middle/high school. I loved that fandom so much! I realized I could communicate my humor with comics in a way I couldn’t in “real life.” People online would respond well to the jokes in my comics, while people who knew me in middle/high school might not really think of me as a funny person. That was encouraging for me to keep making comics.

CC: Tell us about your creative process; how did you develop this comic and what are the steps you took to bring it to the final stage?

CM: I woke up at like 3 a.m. to see that I had gotten an invoice for a place in the Comics Fair. At first I thought it was an invoice for a comic that I didn’t remember ordering from ShortBox, but then when I realized what it was, I got really excited, opened up my notes app, and wrote down the bare bones of the story! The title came to mind first, as well as a story that focused on rebirth. Some lines from the main character’s mother figure and love interest (directed at the main character) were on that note too, and I built the story around them. In the early stages of most of my comics, the brainstorming phase is just me going on long walks, thinking of fake conversations, going, “Ooh, that’s good!” and writing them down when they feel like they mean something to me. I wrote the script in a couple of weeks, did concept work, sent all of it to my amazing editor friends, Honor O’Sullivan and Lars Allen, then created a schedule for drawing over the next six months. I love schedules!

CC: What were some challenges you faced with this comic and how did you overcome them?

CM: I have a really big fear of my comics being “cringe” and/or being “too much.” I think in a lot of aspects I’m kind of a tryhard. I’m worried someone will read my work and think, “Whoa, they were really trying to make something impressive, huh?” in a condescending kind of way. To overcome that, there are a number of solutions that work for me. One is to take a break and sleep; usually in the morning I like it again. Another is to reason with that part of my brain, and come to the conclusion that the act of creating and sharing is important to me regardless of what kind of response it gets. The final solution is to watch YouTubers complain about really terrible media and feel comforted in the fact that people make “bad” art all the time… sometimes at the cost of millions of dollars! And they still survive, and sometimes go on to make really good art later.

CC: Talk a little about your creative philosophy. What keeps you making comics?

CM: I just really love comics. I dabble in other mediums, but comics feel the most instinctual and feel most at home for me. I like that it’s a quick way to produce a visual story. I like the amount of control you can have over the information that’s given, and how much control you can give to the reader to fill in the gaps and come to their own interpretations. I like that comics are considered “low-brow” compared to other mediums, because they usually reside in more accessible spaces. I don’t think I could live my life without creating and telling stories, and comics feel like the best way for me to do it!

CC: Can you tell us about your newest projects/projects you have in development? Feel free to plug anything here as well eg. socials, website, etc.
CM: I’m in the very early stages of what I hope to be a more light-hearted graphic novel. Since it’s in the early stages I don’t want to share too much (I won’t count my chickens before they hatch) but the goal is for it to have beautiful butches and a lot of dyke drama! You can find my portfolio at I’m also @camccaff on most social media!