Anyone who is even casually interested in webcomics will be familiar with our next Stripped! artist: creator of Girls With Slingshot, Danielle Corsetto.
But even long-time (or obsessed, like us) fans of GWS might not know that Danielle is also a champion of sexual education (though it certainly comes through in her strips, which contain plenty of sex ed). We spoke with her about her strip and the influences in her life that led her to approach this topic with so much passion.
WHAT IS IT?
GWS started off as a slice-of-life comedy about BFFs Hazel and Jamie, and evolved into what I call a “dramedy” – a comedy strip with ongoing plots and character development, often dealing with love, sex, drinking, sexual orientation and other sexual preferences that may not be the norm.
The strip, which debuted in 2004, has been completed but is currently being updated as ‘re-runs’ after having the colors updated. Old fans and new alike can start from beautifully updated beginning.
The cast of characters has reached Simpsons levels, but among the main cast are a librarian dominatrix, a LOT of lesbians, a “whateversexual” in a romantic poly relationship with an asexual girl, a deaf girl whose boyfriend is hearing, and a talking cactus who has a fetish for spiderplants. And a lot of cats.
WHO CREATES IT?
I fell in love with making comic strips when I was in third grade, and it’s been my full-time job since I was 23. My webcomic Girls With Slingshots was started in 2004 and just wrapped up this spring at around 2,000 strips.
Danielle has also written 3 Adventure Time graphic novels for BOOM! and wrote and drew The New Adventures of Bat Boy for the Weekly World News. In 2013, Danielle hired colorist Laeluu, who has been coloring the first 1000 strips as they originally appeared in black and white.
GWS certainly has a diverse cast, and one of the things it does so adeptly is show (usually through main character Hazel) that people who are uninformed are not always terrible monsters, yet strips are never preachy and characters can become educated on a topic in a very natural and organic way. Each character has their own voice which is built with depth based on their back stories, and thus has been able to tackle topics such as sexual health & identity as well as relationships(romantic, platonic, and familial) of every model.
Of course, it helps that Danielle is an amazing story teller:
I’ve considered myself sort of an armchair sex educator for years now, but I grew up TERRIFIED of sex. I was an A/B student in all honors classes, but I intentionally failed all of my sex ed tests in health class, because I felt I shouldn’t know the answers. In fact, I DIDN’T know the answers. I would look away when they projected images of genitalia, and stop paying attention while they talked about sex. It didn’t help that I never received a sex talk that went beyond leg shaving tips.
I was equally terrified of driving. I lived out in the country, so I had no choice but to learn how to drive. Eventually, I grew to hate my anxiety and fear so much that I boomeranged full-force in the opposite direction. As soon as I decided to quash my fears, I became a demon on the road… which resulted in a handful of accidents and a LOT of speeding tickets! But at least I stopped fearing the wheel, and now I LOVE to drive. My Scion xD’s name is Josephine and we did a 9,000-mile road trip together last summer… and only got one ticket.
Luckily, I didn’t suffer such consequences as accidents or tickets when I decided to stop fearing sex! But I did approach sex with the same “fuck it!” attitude toward my fears, and (somewhat miraculously) approached my partners’ requests and suggestions with an open mind, while still feeling confident to say “no thank you” to anything I was uncomfortable doing.
Although the word “virginity” doesn’t have one hard-edged definition, I didn’t lose what most people would call my “virginity” (traditional hetero intercourse) until after college, as I didn’t feel ready to do something that could possibly result in pregnancy. I was surprised by all of the amazing, generous men who said “okay, how about this instead?” and didn’t pressure me into having intercourse with them.
I’m an advocate for alternatives to traditional intercourse, and masturbation among women, men, and partners together, as I feel it’s important to know your own body well before you put it in the hands of another individual. Which is, of course, where my love of sex toys comes in handy!
WHERE CAN I READ IT?
If you are too impatient to wait for the all the strips to be re-released, you can binge-read the archives, or read them in hard copy. GWS has been collected into 8 books containing 200 strips each, which are now available through TopatoCo.