Recently, I had the chance to interview Hamlet Machine. She’s the creator of Starfighter—a yaoi sci-fi webcomic. The first time we had met was at Katsucon last year and she was so nice to chat with me about publishing and her characters. You can read Starfighter here—as long as you’re of age.
Yaoi—or boy love (BL)—is a Japanese genre of fictional media that centers on the sexual or romantic relationship between the male characters. It’s normally created by female authors and illustrators and marketed towards a female audience.
Hi Hamlet! Can you please introduce yourself and a little about your background?
— Hello! I’m an artist from New York City. I like to work digitally and I enjoy making erotic art. I have a comic online called Starfighter (nsfw), which I started way back in ’08 and it’s currently (maybe?) in it’s last chapter.
What interested you about BL and what inspired you to create Starfighter?
— I started out attracted to the romance in shojo and then how explicit the content in hentai was, but it seemed like neither genre really combined both? Yaoi had emotional focus and sexual pay-off I was looking for, so I was hooked right away. (The homosexual content also appealed to me.) Starfighter was inspired by my interest in yaoi/BL and my love of sci-fi.
How much research did you do for this series?
— Starfighter was a very spontaneous creation- I didn’t do too much research, I just dove in! I don’t have any formal comics training so there was quite a learning curve when I started.
Please give us a little insight into your main characters? What is it about them that is special?
— The main characters are Cain and Abel, a Fighter and Navigator team. I like to think that people attach to characters in own personal way, so I feel a tiny bit sheepish explaining why they’re special, but I can say that I enjoy characters that start off as a certain archetype and have the nuance and depth of their personality revealed as the story progresses. They are special to me because they’re part of my first comic and my first introduction to the online art world.
Do you have a protocol as to how you write and illustrate or do you just write out whatever comes to you?
— It’s a little of both, I try not to get too rigid with my process because, at least to me, it seems like you can’t apply the same equation to every challenge.
Do you experience writer’s block and if so, how do you alleviate it?
— Haha, I usually just try to force myself onward and feel incredibly horrible until I reach a breakthrough– I am terrible at giving advice about writer’s block!
Have your friends and/or family read Starfighter? What do they think?
— Some friends and family have read it. My family is mostly concerned with me being some kind of hippy comic artist?? Where is the job security in that???
What is your most and least favorite thing about being a small business owner?
— I enjoy having control over the printed comic and merch and working for myself… but business and legal details are the worst, I really don’t have the attitude for it.
Have you been recognized by fans outside of a convention? Like at the mall, movies, etc.?
— Haha, no, not yet!
Is there a convention that you look forward to attending every year? Are there any that you want to attend but haven’t yet?
— I enjoy Otakon because I can drive there- flying with merch is kind of awful and expensive! But I would love to attend or visit a Comita in Japan!
What are you ambitions for your career?
— I would like to continue to make comics and illustrations!
Are there any writers/artists that inspire you?
— My friend Onorobo is a tremendous inspiration to me.
Are you a fan of anime and/or manga? Do you have any favorite titles?
— Oh gosh, I have really been into the Erwin/Levi pairing from Shingeki no Kyojin.
When did you decide to become a professional writer and artist?
— I knew I wanted to be a professional artist for a while– I was always drawing since I was a kid!
Do you have a day job, or do you write and draw full-time?
— The latter, although it took a while to get there.
Ok so say you’re taking some time away from working. How do you relax?
— This might sound weird, but I really enjoy listening ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response) videos on YouTube before bed! They’re like, little role-play videos of people brushing your hair or putting make-up on you– it’s meant to trigger little head tingles.
Are you reading anything now for fun?
— I frequent AO3 often for fanfics!
What advice would you give your younger self?
— Oh boy, haha!
What advice would you give to aspiring artists and writers?
— Draw for yourself and what makes you happy!
Are you working on anything now that you can share with me?
— Yes, I’m working on the Starfighter Visual Novel, which had a successful Kickstarter wrap up in April.
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your schedule to allow me to interview you!
— Thank you for the interview!