In what is probably the strangest idea I’ve ever had as a journalist (a result of my understimulated lockdown brain), I recently decided to cold-email a complete stranger with whom I have nothing in common other than the fact we share the exact same name.
After pouring over my carefully worded email, I pressed a panicked send, hoping she’d find my approach charming and sincere, and not completely creepy. It was a risk (I was fully prepared for my email to end up as a screenshot on her Twitter account), but the American Katie Skelly reacted very positively to my odd request for a dual interview. But let’s rewind for a moment.
I’ve known about Katie Skelly for a long time — almost for about as long as I’ve had internet access and my own MySpace account. As teenagers do, I would occasionally Google myself and find Skelly’s comics peppered throughout my own embarrassing blog photos.
She illustrated comics — really good ones, oftentimes of empowered womxn and with themes of horror. Over the years, as my own online presence grew, so did hers. Her early sketches began to take on more colour and advanced designs and I began to see her illustrations as part of group and exhibitions around the world.
Now, Skelly could well be considered famous in her industry. She’s won multiple awards, her illustrations have been published in several books, and she’s even written a few of her own. She delivers lectures on comics at Universities; all of this I found out about on her own dedicated Wikipedia page!
But it wasn’t until recently when a friend sent me a photo of Skelly’s graphic novel My Pretty Vampire sitting in a Newtown bookstore, that I decided to make contact. Hence the creepy email.
Skelly was happy to discuss her comeuppance with me in a candid chat below. In anticipation of how difficult it may be to distinguish our answers, you’ll note that hers are formatted in Italics.
Introduction time! Who are you and what do you do?
Katie Skelly: I’m an editor and content creator from Sydney, Australia. I’m the lifestyle editor of TheLatch— and I write stories and features about travel, interiors, relationships, sustainability, fashion and careers.
Katie Skelly: I’m an artist and writer in Brooklyn, New York. I write and draw comics, mostly horror. I also work for a nonprofit cinema.
When did you first realise that you had a name twin who also had an online presence?
KS: I first discovered your work around the same time MySpace was really kicking off. Like many other teenagers, I would Google myself out of curiosity to see what came up. In among my embarrassing photos, pictures of your early art would filter in.
KS: I set up a Google alert for myself in maybe 2010 or 2011 to see if my first comic was getting press — and the first alerts I got were actually for another Katie Skelly, who’s a bodybuilder!
Have you kept across my progression over the years, whether by accident in Googling yourself?
KS: Yes, of course! And I feel strangely proud of your success. Most recently a friend sent me a photo of your book in a store here in Sydney. She wondered if I had a secret side hustle and if the book was actually mine, but I was so thrilled for you.
KS: I have! And I have to say, seems like you’re doing great. Every now and then I’ll get an alert about an article you’ve written that always sounds very glamorous.
Do you have any funny stories to share?
KS: The bookstore incident has got to be up there. But I’ve also been happy to direct people over to your Twitter or Instagram when they’ve accidentally tagged me instead. I suppose in emailing you, I also discovered that you nabbed the email address I would have wanted for myself.
KS: There’s a really pretty picture of you being carried over a puddle — it comes up if you Google image search our name — and I’ve definitely encouraged people to believe that’s me. So thank you for that!
KS: I know the photo!
— Heraldsunphoto (@heraldsunphoto) May 9, 2016
Have people ever confused you for me online?
KS: A few times, but I’ve always sent them your way.
KS: I think I’ve gotten the odd email or tweet for you but I always try to correct them.
What went through your mind when I first reached out to you?
KS: I thought there was a very strong chance that you would think I was a complete creep. Can you imagine how embarrassing it would have been for me if you had no idea who I was?!
KS: This is Inception 2.
Do you get any nicknames around your name?
KS: I get Skells, Skelly, and the occasional Skelldogs — though I have no idea why!
KS: I get Skells, too! And I get ‘Skatie Kelly’ which is honestly nails on a chalkboard to me. Sometimes people think my name is fake entirely — why would I pick something that could get so easily mixed up for a ‘Kelly’?
KS: Oh my gosh! I used to get Skatie Kelly too and also hated it. Over email, I constantly get called Kelly too. At least three times a week.
Sign off notes. Anything you’d like to say to me?
KS: I would just congratulate you on your successful career and pass on my admiration for your skills. You’re definitely the more talented Katie Skelly.
KS: Thank you! And back at you. Proud to share the name.