Artist Profile: Sara Vecchi Wrapping Up Comic Trilogy, Michael & Margo

Sara Vecchi has always been invested in comics. “I was reading Garfield since I could read. Once webcomics became a thing, I read a ton as often as they would update.” Although she found a passion in reading them, creating comics wasn’t something she thought she could get into at first. “There was just like this constant stream of updates. They’re updating daily, or three times a week, and they’ve got all this content,” Vecchi said. “It’s still mind-blowing to me.”

When it comes to creating her own stories, the process of creating a comic is something relatively new. However, she draws from her passion to develop something that can be shared with others and has taken the opportunity to learn a new skill to further her passion. “I’ve always liked drawing and people to look at my stuff and feel something,” Vecchi said. “For me, it feels performative. Taking something out of my own mind and giving it to other people for entertainment, to me, is something that I love.” It’s clear that Vecchi’s drive to create is born out of a desire to connect with people, watch their reactions, and share an experience with those around her.

Michael & Margo comic books, volume 1 and 2.

Michael & Margo comic books by Lancaster artist Sara Vecchi, volume 1 and 2.

The story of Michael & Margo is told through three books, with Book 2 wrapped and printed earlier this year. Michael, a curious boy, takes a shortcut through the woods and falls into the home of a troll, Margo. Although she knows he needs to go back to his home with the humans above ground, she can’t help but bombard him with the questions she has about his world. Her father has taught her that humans are evil creatures that should be avoided at all costs for her safety. But once she gets to know Michael, her own curiosity pushes her past the warnings her father has given.

Vecchi weaves a story that connects familiar tales of friendship and adventure while bringing to life unique personalities and creatures. The story expanded from a brief comic she created for a Twitter anthology about adventure. While the comic wasn’t accepted in the anthology, she hung onto the idea and used it as her start to being a comic storyteller.

The project was kicked off on Kickstarter and funded in under 2 hours. “The key to Kickstarter success is to set your goals low,” Vecchi said. While it didn’t cover the full expenses, she was set to get the books made regardless of how much she raised and had already saved money. The goal was to use the funding platform to reach people outside of her typical circle and spread the word about the story. Helping pay for whatever expenses she had was merely a bonus. Vecchi said what mattered to her was that it was proof that she could do it and other people wanted to see the work.

“It’s not just an idea, it came from nothing. I’m not pulling from some existing story, I’m not pulling from my life, I came up with something,” Vecchi said. “I was able to make it into a physical thing you could hold – which is always really exciting – that other people actually wanted. That to me was just really, really exciting. That people would be willing to pay me money for a thing that I made. It felt really good to be able to do that.” The story itself went from a short, entertaining story, to something longer and more intricate with underlying themes. Michael & Margo encourages you to make your own assessments instead of just going off of what you’re told. While the first book sets up the story, it lays down the groundwork to make readers curious about what Margo will do going forward and how far her curiosity will take her in the second book.

Sara Vecchi's son reads her new comic book, Michael & Margo.

Sara Vecchi’s son reads her new comic book, Michael & Margo.

The Lancaster artist pulled a lot of inspiration and guidance from the podcast Comic Lab and the co-hosts Brad Guigar and Dave Kellett. “There’s so much information there about the basics of comics but also the business side,” Vecchi said. She was able to meet the creators of the podcast when they held a seminar last October at The Charles Schulz Museum in California. “I actually gave them a copy of my comic,” Vecchi said she gave a copy to each creator, telling them the comic wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for their inspiring words and advice.

Because she’s active in their community Discord server, where fans of the podcast and aspiring artists can share their thoughts and creations, one of the hosts recognized her work. “Brad had seen my first page before I had even published it because I had posted there and was like ‘This is my first comic, does this look ok?’,” Vecchi said. “I remember him posting – I screenshot it and sent it to my sister – saying ‘That is an A+ page’. I finished it and when I handed [the comic] to him, he goes ‘I remember that, I meant every word of it’.”

Vecchi has also been adamant about donating her comics to local schools, especially since her kids have enjoyed watching the process. Her eldest was in elementary school when she was putting the finishing touches on the first book in the series. “My whole purpose for writing this one was to have a story that could be for kids and I knew it was like a nice, simple, younger storyline,” Vecchi explained that she wanted it to be in kids’ hands but saw how difficult it was to reach children as an online artist. “You kind of have to get to them through a publisher or through reaching out directly.”

She took the opportunity to connect with local schools with the help of her friend, one of the librarians at Medill Elementary. “I emailed her about what I would need to do and she sent them on to the superintendent.” Once the comic was approved, Vecchi brought the comics in and her friend helped to distribute them to the other libraries in the area. The entire Lancaster school system now has a copy of Michael & Margo in their libraries and Vecchi is planning to go through the same process with each book in the trilogy.

With support from her family and other content creators, Vecchi has worked hard to maintain a steady schedule in order to complete the series. Even with the final book in the trilogy steadily nearing completion, the artist says she has more projects she’s looking to start soon after.

The third book of Michael & Margo is set to release by the end of 2023 and Sara Vecchi is only looking to expand further afterward. For more information on Michael & Margo or Vecchi’s other creations, you can visit her website or connect with her on Instagram.

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By Eleanor Mathers

Eleanor Mathers is a lead contributor to The Lancaster Herald. As a freelance writer with a special interest in the arts, Eleanor contributes stories about the arts and artists. Besides running her blog and services at EleanorTypes.com, they can be found behind bookshelves and at coffee tables around Lancaster.