“C” is for Creative, An Interview of Carlo Quispe

Carlo Quispe is a Peruvian-born gay comic book artist, educator, and author. His books and characters include “Uranus Comics,” “Political Will”, and “Carlito,” about a 10-year-old queer boy, “and queer superhero Supermanuel.”

Carlo grew up in Lima and Madrid in the 1980s. His family moved to the US in 1991. He studied Cartooning/Illustration at the School of the Visual Arts in New York. He first discovered comics as a child, where they helped him to learn English.

PrideIndex enjoyed a lively conversation with this equally handsome and talented artist. He shared how comics brought happiness to his family and how his Peruvian culture influenced his artistic style. 

PrideIndex (PI): I am here talking with Carlos Quispe. Introduce yourself.

Carlo Quispe (CQ): Oh, sure. My name is Carlo Quispe. It’s an exotic name here in the US, but it’s like Smith is in America. Everybody’s last name is Quispe in Peru and South America because it’s an Incan name. 

PI: Wow, that’s a great legacy. Tell me about Peruvian comics. 

CQ: Peruvian comics are primarily in the newspaper and magazines. They can be very satirical, mean-spirited, and racist. The political figures are depicted in horrible ways. The comics will make fun of the President of Peru by exaggerating his features. However, everybody’s politically engaged. And even though there’s so much police oppression, protesting still takes place. People make their voices heard. 

PI: Are you married, single, dating, or not dating?

CQ: I’m happily married. I’m someone who has always liked being in a relationship. There was a time when I was intentionally single. In the early 2000s, after someone broke it off with me, I was like, no more commitments. I wanted to be free. I’m lucky; I found someone who wants to be with me and have fun.

PI: When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?

CQ: Well, I always knew that comics brought people happiness. When my dad, a military person in Peru, would come home, he would put his hat and gun down and take a comic book to the bathroom to read. And then would come out and be in a better mood. 

PI: What is the background story on “Carlito?” 

CQ: I got to do a comic for Paper Rocket Minicomics by Robyn Chapman; she’s a great comics editor. She has a book called American Cult, co-published with Silver Sprocket Comics. Robyn published my comic “Carlito,” which my family called me when I was little. “Carlito” deals with bullying. I thought it was normal for immigrant kids to get picked on. I was shorter than the other kids and thought I would get picked on for doing art, reading comics, or liking cartoons. 

PI: As I looked through some of your titles, they’re in your face. There’s one that talks about pissing and other adult-related stuff.

CQ: God. Yeah, you know, there’s a way there is a way to talk about it. I’m glad you bring it up because I do work for adults. But at the same time, I also do work for general audiences. Some of that adult work I never meant to publish. Uranus Comics came out because it’s work that I do with another artist. His name is Mike Diana. Mike’s story is fascinating; he is the only comic artist to be jailed because he made comics in Florida in the early 90s that were too risqué. His case almost went to the Supreme Court. It has been resolved, and they love him in Florida now.

The comic “The Piss Party” is in “Yellow is the Warmest Color” by Trash Panda Fun Zone, a new West Coast publisher. And it’s edited by Sonya Saturday and William O Tyler. It has the world’s best queer cartoonists, some from other countries. There are lesbians, gays, and trans people in the comic, which is also a challenge because these comics are usually very segregated. It’s hard to find a market that includes all of these comics in one place, usually, it’s either all gay or all lesbian or trans, right? Piss comics unite all of these queer artists.

PI: Listening to the background story makes me want to learn more. 

CQ: The Piss Party comic is honoring a long running local underground party that donates to charity and creates community.

PI: Talk about “Chico,” and “World War Three Illustrated and your other work. Where did you find the inspiration for them? 

CQ: I will first talk about the World War Three comic. World War Three Illustrated was founded by the cartoonist Seth Tobocman and Peter Kuper. The collection of comics is excellent; there’s like over 20 artists. And it’s a place for political cartoons. It’s leftist, anarchist, pro-queer, pro-social, feminist, and anti-racist. So, it feels good to be part of this group. My contribution is a response to the last couple of years; my sister is an essential worker. You can preorder it now. It’s called the “Frontlines of Repair Issue.” 

I like to make sci-fi and fantasy comics. I have a parody character, like Superman, called “Super Manuel.” And there’s my other project called “Uranus Attack,” a parody of Mars Attacks. 

“Chico” is an autobiographical and personal comic; it is a collection of intimate gay comics set in NYC. It follows a group of friends who are isolated from each other. And this is not even during the pandemic. 

I wanted to create characters that were people of color, but not necessarily in the same stereotypical way that other comics that I have seen. Even though I love them, I wanted to make something different, with less of a punch line or commercial twist.

PI: Where can we find out more about your art and future projects? 

CQ: On my website carloquispe.com