Known for making comics -- and a little trouble -- Chad Sell is a Midwestern artist and "RuPaul's Drag Race" fanatic. After being wooed by drag superstar Raja in her "sleek and absurd cyclops outfit" in season three of the hit reality TV competition, Sell began sketching fan art featuring the queens. This became a weekly hobby, following blog re-caps about the award-winning show. The afternoon before the season five premiere, Huffpost Gay Voices chatted with the "RuPaul's Drag Race" enthusiast about his favorite contestants, the inspiration behind his art, his predictions for the season and more.
The Huffington Post: How long have you been creating comic art?
Chad Sell: Ever since I was a little kid -- I've always been such a comic geek. I took a break during college, pursuing film, photography, and painting, but eventually I got back to my true love of comics.
What's your favorite comic series?
That's a tough question! It's hard to pick just one, but I'd say the most influential one for me has been "Love & Rockets" by the Hernandez brothers.
What inspired you to begin blogging about "RuPaul's Drag Race"?
I had been a huge fan of the "Drag Race" since the first season. But at the beginning of the third season, seeing Raja in her sleek and absurd Cyclops outfit, as well as Delta work in her cartoonish yellow and black dress, I was weirdly driven to try some cartoony fan art of them.
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I posted them online and sent tweets to both queens. When Raja responded and was enthusiastic about the work, I was blown away! So I decided to make it a weekly thing, drawing my favorite queens from each episode.
Do you create the comics while watching the show or afterward?
I like to do a lot of rough sketches during the show and then I spend the next day drawing the final pieces. I try to have my new art up a day or so after each episode airs.
What do you use to design your prints?
I do the initial sketches with just a pencil and paper and then I use a fairly ridiculous digital process to work out all the flat areas of color and detailed work.
You mentioned in a previous blog post about last season that Shannel's costumes are crazy and can be polarizing, but they're really fun to draw. Do the crazier costumes make your creations more exciting?
Absolutely! I like drawing the really outrageous costumes because they really cater to my cartoony imagination. That's why Raja was my first and greatest muse. You never knew what outrageous look she was going to give week to week. Although I admire the queens who go for a more realistic, "fishy" style, they aren't nearly as fun to draw.
If you could create a superhero comic flick starring "RuPaul's Drag Race" contestants, who would you choose?
Since "All Stars" was the most recent season I've watched, all those fabulous queens are still very much on my mind. I'd say Chad Michaels would lead my superhero drag team and it would feature Raven as the dark femme fatale, Raja as the unpredictable powerhouse, Jujubee as the fierce martial artist, and Alaska as the deranged sexpot and
Latrice would be the biggest badass on the block.
Their villains would include: Mimi Imfurst, Sharon Needles, Phi Phi, and Shangela. Yara Sofia could be a twisted sorceress, and for some reason, I see Honey Mahogany as a cyborg.
Who is your favorite cast member?
I seriously adore so many of those queens, but like I said, Raja was my first love among the many contestants, and I've had the most interaction with her outside of the show!
You have this awesome montage GIF of RuPaul that changes outfits. Does Ru Paul know about your creations?
Thanks! I'm pretty sure she's seen some of the work, but I haven't gotten a chance to chat with her or meet her. I'm still holding out hope that someday I'll get to take part in some ridiculous mini-challenge for the show, which would allow me to meet Ru and the Pit Crew!
What's your favorite RuPaul quote?
As much as I love her affirmation sayings, my favorites are her snarky comments as the queens are coming down the runway. That being said, I love calling people (especially my boyfriend) "Squirrel friends!"
Based on what we've seen of the season five cast, who do you predict will win?
I definitely already have my favorites, but I truly think there are a ton of fabulous queens on this season and I fully expect to be surprised by a few, too. Because I have a preference for the zany, funny, self-aware queens, I'm rooting for Jinkx Monsoon, Alaska, Detox, Honey, and Jade Jolie. But it looks like Lineysha Sparx, Roxxxy Andrews, Alyssa Edwards and Ivy Winters could offer some serious competition, too!
Is there a drag queen that isn't or hasn't been on the show that you think should be?
I love the indie film "Girls Will Be Girls," which features a fabulous trio of drag queens, though I doubt any have auditioned for the show. I also love Peaches Christ in San Francisco. She does amazing stage shows and film projects!
My favorite film of all time is "Hedwig and the Angry Inch", but I can't imagine John Cameron Mitchell showing up on the "Drag Race." Maybe as a guest judge though, which would be spectacular. My work on the "Drag Race" has gotten me in touch with a lot of amateur drag queens all over the country and I'm waiting for the day when I get to see some of them make it onto the show!
Where can people view and purchase your prints?
All of my Drag Race work is featured here with links to my online store to buy prints.