The Cat Whisperer: Ursula Murray Husted

The Lions of Valletta

The Lions of Valletta

“Make the art you want to make. Best case scenario: You eventually get paid for it. Worst case scenario: You get to make your own art.”

Ursula Murray Husted lives and breathes comics. Not only does she draw and create her own from her home in Minneapolis, MN, but she also teaches them at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

In 2013, she launched a Kickstarter project for The Lions of Valletta, an all-ages graphic novel about cats, art history, and the meaning of life inspired by a family trip to Malta. “While in [the city of] Valletta I was charmed by the number of stray cats that lounged on the ancient stones like they owned the place,” she says. There were three distinct types, she observed — some who wanted food, some who ignored humans completely, and a third variety that seemed to pause to pass judgement on their human visitors before going on their way. “How did I not measure up? What were they looking for? Trying to answer these questions led to The Lions of Valletta.”

Ursula Murray Husted

Ursula Murray Husted

With the help of 333 backers, she not only printed the book, but was able to add unexpected embellishments like french folds and foil stamping to the cover. The thing that surprised Husted most about the campaign, was the emotional responses she received from backers: “I received many kind emails and letters from backers who loved the book. Making books is a long and fairly solitary process. Hearing from happy backers was the best part of the campaign.” 

For independent creators, especially those struggling with self-doubt, Husted has some advice: “Realize that all creative work is risky and then use the process of work to help get past the fear,” she says. “Finishing work and then exposing it to daylight is the most hazardous part of the creative process, but it is better to take that risk than to build castles in your head. Perfectionism is a visceral form of self-limiting fear that freezes you in a single place. Hold faith that if you work and make new things, you will improve and learn.”

Explore more graphic novel projects on Kickstarter here.