Webcomics and Whimsy: Kyla Smith Interviews Crystal “Scotty” Jayme

Magic, mischief, and murder abound in Crystal “Scotty” Jayme’s comics. Since entering the comics community in 2008, Scotty has made a name for herself—drawing hundreds of pages of comics, all teeming with her distinctive bold brushwork. With three long-form Hiveworks Originals webcomics—Freakshow, Hazy London, and Nigh Heaven and Hell—as well as shorter projects for Slipshine, Filthy Figments, and Oh Joy Sex Toy under her belt, this Hispanic El Paso-based cartoonist shows no signs of slowing down. 

Kyla Smith (KS): How did you get your start in comics?

Crystal “Scotty” Jayme (S): I first discovered comics when I was around 11, and I picked up Volume 12 of Inuyasha at Barnes & Noble. I was already a huge fan of the show and had no idea it was based on a comic. And I was immediately obsessed and bought as many volumes as I could find. By the time I started middle school, I had made my first ever comic. And it’s been downhill since.

S: I guess I mean that in a joking sense! Like my love (and maybe obsession) with comics started that day.

KS: Going off of that, what inspires you to make the stories you tell?

S: I always struggle to figure out what kind of stories I even make. I enjoy dabbling in a mix of genres. But in the end, character is always the most important aspect to me. I enjoy flawed, complicated characters. And as I get older, the more I can appreciate stories that in spite of being sad or melancholy, have a hint of hope and happiness in the end.

KS: That’s really cool to hear! I love seeing how your characters’ backstories unfold, especially since your comics are long-running. Speaking of that, how do you tackle long term projects—do you have everything outlined, do you write as you go?

S: It’s a mix of both! I’ve got a timeline with key story beats planned out, but a lot of things are left empty so I can fill it in as I go. I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error over the years trying to find the right mix, but this past year was the first time I really started to nail down how I prefer to work.

I think taking the time to also prep the story in batches helps too. So instead of seeing it all as a massive story that needs to be tackled, I break it down into volumes. And it makes it easier to work in chunks and give each volume a smaller goal. Whether it’s a certain theme or arc, it’s easier to handle when I can see the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak.

KS: What drives you to continue making comics? And what inspires you?

S: Seeing readers’ reactions is a huge motivator for sure. Seeing the small discussions and watching folks slowly unravel the cookie crumbs you leave behind in the story is the BEST. Forming a community aspect almost, it’s an aspect to making webcomics I never really thought of, but now that I’m in it, it’s surprisingly a big part of what keeps me motivated! 

And what inspires me is my fellow comics artists work honestly. Seeing what they’re coming up with just lights a fire in me to wanna try harder and do better.

KS: I definitely love the community aspect as well! Seeing encouraging comments and people talking with each other in the comments is really heartwarming to see!

With that, are there any comics, films, television shows, etc that you’ve been enjoying recently?

S: I recently got the Shonen Jump app on my phone and have been binge reading a bunch of series on there! I also wanna take the time to read all of Haikyuu!! now that it’s over. From what I’ve read over the years, it’s just so damn good. It’s hard to balance such a massive cast and to have you care about all of them, but Haikyuu!! does it so masterfully.

I also finally watched Dorohedoro, and I LOVE it. It made me realize I need to have way more fun with my stories. If it seems like a silly or dumb idea, or I start to doubt storytelling skills, I need to remind myself that Dorohedoro exists. If a story like that can be as sincere and out there, then I just need to go for it!

KS: Dorohedoro is SO GOOD! I’ve been trying to pace myself.

S: I need to start the comic cause idk if I can wait for another season! Such a fun series.

KS: Same! Going back to your comics, one of the aspects I really enjoy about them—and a lot of webcomics in general—is how they showcase queer joy and queer worldbuilding. Could you talk a little about queerness in your comics?

S: I always feel the least equipped to talk about something like this because I’m not queer myself. So I’ve always done my best to just listen and never overstep a space that should always prioritize queer storytellers. I started out back when “Yaoi” and “BL” comics were a bigger thing in the webcomics space. So it’s been interesting to see the shift from where it was 10 years ago to now!

My one and only goal is to do right by the characters and story and to do right by the real people my stories can possibly impact. To always try and be aware and willing to work and listen.

KS: Wrapping things up, when you started, did you ever imagine that you’d be working on three concurrent comics with a large webcomic publisher (Hiveworks)?

S: I never in a million years thought I’d be where I am today! It’s been a crazy journey so far, and I hope it never ends!

KS: I’m so happy for you! Last thing, what roles do art and comics play in your life, and has it changed over time?

S: For me, comics have always been a way to communicate. I’ve never been good with trying to compose my thoughts in a coherent way. Let alone, I also have a lisp that makes me self conscious, so overall I don’t enjoy talking much in person. But comics allow me to have a voice that lets me explore my thoughts and ideas without the same pressure if that makes any sense!

For more of Scotty’s work, check out her portfolio, Twitter, and Instagram, and catch up with her comics Freakshow, Hazy London, and Nigh Heaven and Hell on Hiveworks.

SOLRAD is made possible by the generous donations of readers like you. Support our Patreon campaign, or make a tax-deductible donation to our publisher, Fieldmouse Press, today.

Kyla Smith is an Asian American writer, illustrator and comic artist, and her website is aikosmith.com. In her free time, you'll find her learning the bass guitar and perfecting her hand-pulled noodle technique.

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1 Response
  1. Wombatkat

    She’s an amazing storyteller and I love the way that she focuses on the characters. They are relatable and it inspires me to make similar efforts in my work. Thank you for this interview!

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