February 5, 2014

Project: MiSSiLE

Two girls, an onslaught of rad comics.

I'm not sure how I stumbled across Ashley Loftin's Twitter account, but I'm glad I did. About a month later, she and her best friend and roommate Kelly Thomas posted the first MiSSiLE - the moniker used for the pair's autobiographical, existential comics. The hand-drawn, mostly black and white comics beautifully tell anecdotes and inside jokes, both honest and real, like everything should be. "We have silly inside jokes all the time," Thomas says of her friendship with Loftin. "I guess we just decided to start documenting them because we thought they were interesting and relatable enough that other people would enjoy them too."

Friendship, here, would seem to be an understatement - with MiSSiLE, Loftin and Thomas are in more of a creative partnership, with Loftin writing the comics and Thomas doing much of the illustration. To make this successful, a cocktail of miraculous collaboration must come about, mixed with a lot of perceiving of the other's thoughts and praying like hell their skills match one another to create one coherent piece of work. And so far, so good. The comics' topics have ranged from friendship to dating, awkward social situations to Ramen noodles. To Loftin, it's about connecting. "We try to write about things that are sort of universal to college students or people who are young and struggling," Loftin says. "People who are trying to find their identities, who are frustrated and need to express themselves in ways other don't always understand." Or, as Thomas says, "just humans."

"The idea was to create something purely us; very relatable and something that influenced both of us to be more honest and open about our lives," Loftin says. The pair are Harvey Pekar and Robert Crumb-like, also counting Shannon Wheeler, creator of the personal "Much Too Much Coffee Man" comic as a source of inspiration. And although there are similarities between them, MiSSiLE already has it's own style: sarcasm, jagged-yet-oddly-familiar faces and a wit that has viewers smirking with recognition.

With the quantity and quality of comics posted, it would seem as though it's been longer than three weeks since the pair got going. They already have a following, both in person and online. First printed in their school newspaper in Arkansas a few weeks ago, the blog came shortly thereafter, with the shorter comics, "Mini Missiles" surfacing as well. MiSSiLE could rocket off anywhere from here, though the comic will remain in their school's newspaper until Loftin, who's studying mass media, graduates in May, and moves to Boston. Although this could make continuing MiSSiLE more challenging, the girls sound up for it, with the thoughts of potentially publishing MiSSiLE as a book or collective jetting to mind.

"I never want to stop," Loftin says. "Ever since we started it, I can't stop."

Read more MiSSiLE comics here.

Erin O'Brien is a writer from West Covina, CA, a suburban Los Angeles city that's bigger than any small town. Her hobbies include watching funny television, playing with her dogs and blasting Beyonce when she's home alone. She writes about her average adventures on Twitter and her blog.