Behind the Ink: Paloma Hernando and Sunmi of Dandelion Wine Collective
Shannon Miller: Can you tell us a little bit about Dandelion Wine Collective (DWC)? How did it come together?
Dandelion Wine Collective: Sure! DWC started from the simple desire to recognize and publish the work of our peers at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art). Our collaborations actually started with a twine game, that we created together for a gallery show in the illustration department. From there, we started representing the department through publishing short comics anthologies featuring various student work, along with representing MICA Illustration at events like MoCCA Fest and SPX (Small Press Expo).
SM: What was your first brush with comics, and what made you decide to get into comics creation?
Paloma: Well, my first brush with comics was hate-reading buckets of my neighbor’s Archie comics, but then later I got into manga and eventually graphic novels. When I was a kid I was always really torn between wanting to become a writer or an artist, so I found a cheat code!
Sunmi: Definitely manga at the local library and Borders (in our hearts forever). When I was a kid I drew a comic series called “Adventures in Imaginary World.” It was drawn on sheets of copy paper and were about hanging out with my imaginary friends, fantasy creatures, and characters from my favorite books, tv shows, and animes. I even tried binding some, like zines woah! Now I am doing it… professionally.
SM: We at Nerds of Prey love comfort comics, or comics that we turn to specifically for self care. Is there a particular comic book or story that you default to just to relax?
PH: My Hero Academia, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Fruits Basket. I can just always depend on them to be good. I also turn to short strip comics like Supermutant Magic Academy and Hark! A Vagrant, since they both have really big backlogs and will always make me laugh.
S: Hmm… I guess I don’t really have a particular comic that I turn to for relaxing? I think maybe Azumanga Daioh and Yotsuba! by Kiyohiko Azuma would be good. I have the whole set of Azumanga Daioh, and the humor and character relationships in that series are very endearing and warm.
SM: You have an anthology that you are preparing to crowdfund called The Sun and the Wayward Wind (it looks like a gorgeous concept!). Can you tell us about it?
DWC: The Sun and the Wayward Wind is a visual anthology of new and reimagined legends and lore. It features tall tales and local legends from creators throughout North America, some of which are inspired by history and many of which are personal stories that reflect on each person’s identity and experiences. We’re really proud of this collection of comics and illustrations, and are excited to share it with the world!
SM: What do you hope that readers take away from this anthology the most?
S: For me, it feels like the idea of an “American” identity has always been distant, complicated, and centered on whiteness, while so much of the history on this continent is bound to colonialism and systemic racism. Even as I was born here the child of Korean immigrants, I could never find myself totally belonging to a Korean national identity either. I don’t feel very interested in the history of American folklore, but I do find myself very drawn to how an individual’s unique upbringing and cultural background inform the way they absorb and tell stories. And I’ve always believed in the ability for stories to share different perspectives and create empathy amongst people as a whole. So I hope people will find that in our book.
PH: I really like Sunmi’s answer so I want to echo that. I also feel like oral culture and stories that are told outside of the official narrative can be so infinitely dynamic and interesting. I’ve always been really drawn to that kind of weird, alternative folklore. I hope that when people look at this book, they realize that it could be fifteen volumes longer, that we are just skimming the surface of all the stories that each one of us has to tell.
SM: In building Dandelion Wine Collective, what have you learned about your creative process?
PH: I think DWC has taught us a lot about creative momentum and all the different steps of the creative process outside of the tunnel vision that you tend to get when you’re just in the “inspiration” stage. I think it’s been really valuable in teaching us about the not-as-exciting parts of making a book happen.
S: It doesn’t get easier after school… but I don’t want to go back. I feel very fortunate to be able to create and push forward the kind of work I want to see in the world, even if it’s difficult to manage multiple jobs just to make a living. I hope I never lose the joy I find in creating and consuming comics and art.
SM: Do you have a special snack or beverage that is a must have when you are working?
PH: I really like these crackers that I got from H-mart called “Gosomi” crackers! These crackers with black milk tea are the best.
S: I like yogurt soft drinks and tea. My favorite teas are chrysanthemum and peppermint. I will also inhale all chips, as if I were beloved Nintendo character, Kirby. I had to specify in case someone thought I meant Jack Kirby, since we’re talking about comics.
SM: What do you hope the future holds for DWC?